Citraweizen | Riggs Beer Co.
Hefeweizens don’t get the love of some other beer styles. Lagers and pilsners have made a comeback, and IPAs (in various forms) and stouts are possibly over-produced at this point. If a brewery releases a hefeweizen, it usually is a strict traditional one with no variations on the style. No unique hop additions, definitely not barrel aged, and no lactose. So when Riggs Brewing in Urbana, IL releases their Citraweizen as their summer seasonal every year, I grab it on tap if I’m down there.
Riggs Brewing opened in 2016 in the far eastern cornfields of Urbana, far away from the main University of Illinois campus (but right down the street from a mega Wal-Mart). While the taproom serves its function, the real draw lies in the expansive patio area. During the warmer months, Riggs consistently fills that patio (not too sure about those winter ones, though). I don’t have an exact percentage, but most of what they brew the beer with you can see in the fields surrounding the brewery. That’s damn cool.
Riggs has a year-round hefeweizen and, during the really hot summer months, they mix it up a bit by adding (you guessed it) Citra hops to form Citraweizen. The regular hefeweizen uses Riggs grown wheat and the beer has dry-hopped Citra added to it. Full disclosure, the original Riggs Hefeweizen (featured on our Crossfire show in 2017) remains my wife’s favorite beer because it was a banana bomb; the recipe has since changed to soften the banana notes a bit. Also, in a case of impeccable timing on my part, our Local Hefe show will be released next week, so I have definite hefe opinions now. Hoo boy.
Citraweizen pours a pale straw color. Held in the light, it glows gold. Being a hefeweizen, it makes sense that the haze persists. Two fingers of white, pillowy head form and very, very slowly shrink to about half a finger. If the light strikes it just right, it resembles lemonade. Some really dense, lemon-filled lemonade.
My first sniff filled my nose with wheat. Not some process, General Mills-style wheat, but some damn good just harvested wheat. Naturally that leads to a bready note that really shines. Clove comes through more than banana, but some banana nose flavors do peek through. All this combines to give off a fairly substantial banana bread note, but again like a homemade banana bread and not some store bought crap. The Citra hops do show up on the aroma, but only impart some generic citrus notes; nothing definitive at all.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts on the Citraweizen. No banana bomb here, as the banana and clove remain subtle throughout the sip. Subtle remains the word of the beer, as a slight orange citrus note permeates as well. Even a little lemon kick joins in the palate party. All this forms a lovely banana bread note with a nice orange bent to it. An easy drinker, Citraweizen finishes very dry and with a slight bitterness spike in the finish.
Much like most (or maybe all?) of the hefeweizens I had on the show, Citraweizen keeps things medium while maintaining a full mouthfeel. The citrus note and, more importantly, the banana bread note stay around long after the sip ends its journey. That combined with the 5.3% ABV and bitter dry finish means the can won’t be around long at all.
As will be proven on the Local Hefes show (spoiler alert!), I prefer a hefeweizen with a powerful banana kick. Not a bomb, but an overarching prescense. Citraweizen doesn’t feature that, but it does have a lovely banana bread note accentuated by the Citra hops and a dry finish. The addition of the Citra makes it a unique and interesting take on a traditional hefeweizen.
Typically if I’m at Riggs during the summer months, the first pour I get is the Citraweizen. Why? On tap the beer sparkles, with the Citra playing a bigger role. The beer drinks brighter and even more refreshing than the canned version. The Ctiraweizen cans are definitely worth a purchase (wife drank the rest of the 4-pack!) but on draft, looking out over the fields of wheat (if they haven’t been harvested yet) is where you need to be. Add a full point to the rating if you get a draft pour.