I proclaim this the summer of grapefruit IPAs. Is it the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin effect? A few grapefruit IPAs have chilled in our coolers during summers past—Abita Grapefruit Harvest IPA, Stone Brewing Co. Grapefruit Slam IPA (part of that brewery’s Stochasticity Project series)—but it seems like each week this summer, a new one hits shelves or taps.
Certain hop varieties can mimic the flavor and aroma of grapefruit, especially Citra, Cascade, and Comet. Brewers have recently doubled down on American drinkers’ enthusiasm for these citrusy profiles, releasing beers made with grapefruit zest, peel and juice that amplify those hops.
This month alone, we tasted Magic Hat’s new yearround IPA, Electric Peel, as well as Manayunk’s summer-only, session-strength Grapefruit Daydreamin’ IPA and Modern Times new special release Fortunate Islands hoppy wheat with Grapefruit Zest. (That’s not even mentioning IPAs with grapefruit hop flavor like Sun King GFJ.)
Within this specific category, though, variations exist. Electric Peel tastes generally citrusy, with some tangerine and sweet lemon edges to the grapefruit flavor. Manayunk’s Grapefruit Daydreamin’ (the brewery’s fastest selling can ever) offers up more of a refreshing grapefruit flavor that seems juicier than other IPAs, likely because the beer’s session strength thins out the sip a bit. Modern Times spin on its flagship Fortunate Islands (a super hopped, lightly wheaty “IPA”) was released at the tail end of July, and though it contains Amarillo and Citra hops plus the zest and juice of “one zillion grapefruits,” its 60-percent wheat malt base keeps it from veering into overly abrasive or acidic territory. It’s pithy but soft, and at 5 percent ABV, an easy summer afternoon choice.
Grapefruit IPAs likely won’t replace regular IPAs in my fridge, but I’d reach for one when I’m looking for that specifically bright, punchy flavor profile but without the sweetness of a radler. Bonus points for the extra 1 percent vitamin C I just added to my diet, too.