Surly Brewing Company

Xtra-Citra Pale Ale

Our Rating


RateBeer Rating
BeerGraph's proprietary measure of a beer's quality, or Beers Above Replacement (BAR), has been converted from a scale of -5-20 to 0-100.


out of 100
Beer stats from RateBeer
Beer stats from RateBeer
category-iconBeer Reviews

Surly’s Xtra-Citra Earns its Name

July 20, 2018

By Tucker Anders, July 20, 2018

Middle-America is brewing some great beer. Three Floyds, Half Acre, Boulevard and Toppling Goliath all pump out consistently solid offerings from no-coast USA. Yet, there’s another fly-over state-based powerhouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota that gets less attention. That player is Surly Brewing Company.

Known best for flagship IPA Todd the Axe Man, Surly also produces a whale of a session pale ale, Xtra-Citra. This citra hop showcase defies the laws of session beers. Despite clocking in at 4.5% ABV, Xtra-Citra boasts the flavor of a much stronger beer.


Xtra-Citra is bright even before you crack the can. Orange rays shoot out from the Surly logo on a yellow background, with bright green hops fit together like a puzzle on the bottom of the can. Once poured, Xtra-Citra is a vibrant straw yellow that is mostly clear and active. A big white head quickly gives way, while still clinging nicely to the glass.

Naming a beer after a hop challenges a brewer to make full use of it, and Surly certainly does that with Xtra-Citra.”


The aroma is—as you would expect—all Citra, with citrus and tropical fruit dominating every whiff. Notes of passion fruit, grapefruit, lime and melon all emanate from the glass. Xtra-Citra boasts a complex and pleasing aroma, but it is isn’t a room-filler, likely due to the session nature of the beer. Even still, it is a smell that pulls the glass to your lips.


The first taste makes it abundantly clear that Xtra-Citra is top of class. Huge waves of citrus are complemented by tropical fruit and dried out by the English-ale yeast Surly uses to ferment Xtra-Citra. It’s a great progression on each taste from fruit--grapefruit, melon, passion fruit, lychee—to a hint of crackery malt and honey and ultimately a super clean dry finish from the yeast. Xtra-Citra is one of the rare session beers to feature a progression of flavor at all, much less one with this level of complexity.


It’s tough to find a session IPA—much less a session pale—that so well features a specific hop. The nuances of the citra hop are coaxed out and left alone to shine over a light feel, low malt profile, easy ABV and neutral drying yeast. Naming a beer after a hop challenges a brewer to make full use of it, and Surly certainly does that with Xtra-Citra.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
Related Articles

Zero Gravity’s Little Wolf Is Small on ABV, Big on Flavor

This Vermont-made beer is well suited for just about any drinker and any occasion.

SweetWater’s Costa Kick Plastic Pilsner Wants to Save the Oceans

SweetWater partnered with sunglasses brand Costa on Kick Plastic Pilsner to raise awareness about plastic waste in oceans and waterways.

Jackie O’s Scrip Is a Shining Example of an Obscure Beer Style

Grisette is a tart, low-alcohol beer historically enjoyed by miners. Jackie O’s take on the style, Scrip, does justice to this overlooked brew.