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Citizen Pale Ale: A Full Moon Doppelganger?

A couple weeks ago I picked up a couple packs from a new Calgary brewery, Citizen Brewing.

(Yes, I know I haven’t done a profile on them yet. I apologize. Life is hard. I promise to get to it very soon.)

Anyway, I opened their North West Pale Ale, and immediately recognized it. I knew these flavours. Not in a general way, but in a specific “I know this beer” way. Within milliseconds my brain was saying “this is like Full Moon”. And I had to agree. The beer seemed amazingly like Alley Kat’s longtime mainstay Full Moon Pale Ale.

Full Moon is a beer I have had countless times. Its taste is burned into my body memory. It is my regular go-to/fall back/reliable standby, as I made clear when they tried to change it (read here, but don’t worry they fixed the mistake).

So imagine my surprise to try a new brewery’s pale ale and come up with Full Moon. It was something I had to follow up. I decided to try them side-by-side. To go with my recently purchased Citizen beer I picked up a fresh case of Full Moon.

I decided a blind tasting was pointless since I know Full Moon so well. Instead I just poured them in identical glasses (both with Alley Kat logos but I am sure that doesn’t affect the flavour) and tried them one after the other.

The results were interesting.

The Citizen appeared as a medium orange beer with a slight haze. It forms a dense, fluffy white head with a bit of lacing. The head hangs around. In the aroma I pick up piney hop with a touch of citrus, some toffee and biscuit backing. I also get a bit of woodiness along with some generic fruit.

The flavour gives me toffee, light caramel and a noted fruitiness upfront. The middle brings out a noted C-hop flavour of citrus, pine and wood. I also get a sharpening of the malt, offering a bit of almost rye-like graininess. Finish is bright and floral, moderately dry with a classic pale ale finish and linger.

There is no question in my mind this beer can stand out as a quality pale ale.

But for my brain the real test was how did it compare to Full Moon.

It is slightly darker, offering a bright medium orange verging on copper. It has a bright clarity and a moonscape white head with only a touch of lacing. The aroma is  full pine along with some wood. I also get some clear citrus notes. It has a solid background of toffee, honey and some clover. There is also a touch of fruitiness at the end.

The front taste is well-rounded, presenting toffee, rich biscuit and a noted fruitiness. I also get some clover honey and meadow flower. The middle keeps its smoothness but adds in light dusting of citrus and woody pine. the finish is classic C-hop citrus and pine but balanced with a biscuity malt linger.

Side-by-side I can totally tell they are not the same beer. The Citizen is more hop forward and drier in its overall impression. The Full Moon is more rounded, cleaner and overall more balanced. It keeps its malt character longer to give it a fuller character. The hop flavours are very similar – which may be why I originally conflated the two. Both have  a classic Northwest Pale Ale  (a la Sierra Nevada) hop flavour.

I won’t be so foolhardy as to suggest they use the same varieties, but I will say they have selected hops in the same family of flavours.

They are clearly sister beer. Made with the same vision but with differing approaches. You have to decide for yourself which is better. Regardless which you pick, we should all be happy we  have both on offer.

 

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