Blood Orange Citrus Breeze

We talked with Coastal Empire Beer Co. Co-Founder and Brewmaster Kevin Haborak about their latest can release, craft beer in Savannah, and what’s coming up from them later this year.

Can you tell us about the development of Blood Orange Citrus Breeze?

We developed Citrus Breeze last August for our 5 year anniversary celebration.  We wanted to do a citrusy sour pale ale, so we decided to use oranges, Eukanot hops, and a Nordic yeast.  We chose the Eukanot hops because they have a big citrus and tropical fruit profile with just a little pine (Eukanot used to be called Equinox, I’m not sure why they changed the name).  The Nordic yeast provided a lemony fruitiness that we thought would complement the oranges.

There’s also a Grapefruit Citrus Breeze in the works, and you’ve brewed a version with regular oranges.  Will we see a series of Citrus Breeze variants?

We will also have a grapefruit Citrus Breeze that we’ll put out in late spring/early summer.  We are developing some sour pale variants for our tap room with passionfruit, guava, and other fruits; but they won’t be under the Citrus Breeze label since they aren’t citrus fruits and we may also change the hops and yeast for those beers.

Someone mentioned recently that Georgia has a large availability of affordable sour ales compared to some other areas.  I’d never thought about it, but we do have a good variety of kettle sours here.  Why do you think they’re so popular in Georgia?

I think they are popular because the approachable light fruit sours can be really refreshing in the Georgia heat.  Also the practice of kettle souring has gotten breweries that really had no interest in bringing bacteria into the production facility to be less worried about it since the bacteria is contained and then killed prior to transfer to the fermenter.

Blood Orange Citrus Breeze
Coastal Empire’s Blood Orange Citrus Breeze is a lightly tart pale ale with nice citrus sourness and a gently bitter backbone. 

Coastal Empire opened in 2011 as Savannah’s 2nd brewery.  How has the craft beer scene there grown in the last few years?

Since we opened in 2011, I think the biggest change that we’ve seen in Savannah is the number of retail places that have gone to carrying 8+ beers on tap.  Establishments that used to only have 2 or 3 macros on tap will now carry 8 or more beers.

What else is in the works for Coastal Empire that we should look out for?

In the immediate future we will be releasing a small batch of a 100% Brett fermented blackberry imperial wheat, we will follow-up with a peach version in the summer or late fall.  Last fall we changed to wrapping our cans which has allowed us to produce and can some one offs that would have been kegs only in the previous years, so be on the lookout for more seasonals and one offs from us in the future.

Tim’s Tasting Notes

We tried this one in the studio and I didn’t get much of the tart character.  I’ll chalk that up to palate fatigue as my second can gave a very nice and light tartness coupled with tart sour citrus.  This one nails that juicy buzzword that’s sooo cool these days, lots of juicy blood orange in Citrus Breeze.  The finish is dry and pleasant.  Overall this is a great beer and one of my favorites from Coastal Empire.  This would be a great beer to enjoy with a meal.  The citrus notes are pleasant and the dry, tart finish leaves your palate squeaky clean after each sip.


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