Cigar City Brewing, one of my perennial favorites from Tampa, took to the internet September 28th to reveal that they would be doing a few things differently with Tocobaga Red Ale in the future. For one, they would be reducing the per-pack number of cans from 6 to 4 and keeping the same price. Secondly, they would be brewing more of it.
“The problem, as many of you have let us know over the years, is that we don’t brew it often enough and when we do we don’t brew enough of it,” the brewery stated on a blog post update. “One of those is that acquiring enough Citra hops to brew it consistently has at times been a challenge. The huge hop nose and flavor that melds so well with the rich malt is almost completely from the liberal application of Citra hops.”
If you follow the trends of IPAs in the past few years, you’ll have noticed that Citra has become the hop-du-jour of many in their quest to make big tropical beers. This has led to a strain on the production of the hop varietal, and as Adam Smith’s invisible hand dictates, as supply goes down costs go up. Homebrewers will find their price per ounce of Citra all the way up to $4 an ounce. Varieties like Calypso can be found for half that price.
“But, the primary reason for its scarcity,” the brewery continues, “is that it’s just not a cheap beer to make. Tocobaga costs considerably more to brew than our flagship beer, Jai Alai IPA”
That’s an incredible statement. That must mean some sort of wicked hop and malt bill was formulated to make Tocobaga almost cost prohibitive.
Because Tocobaga is so popular, I wanted to see if someone had cracked the code to Tocobaga and perhaps shed some light as to exactly why it would be so expensive, beyond simply ‘it contains a lot of Citra’. So I delved into HomeBrewTalk.com’s forums and found this post where user BlakeL emailed head brewer Wayne Wambles back in 2012 and received this in reply:
“We use 2-row, C60L, Dark Chocolate, Vienna and Munich.
We hop it with Vanguard, Amarillo, Centennial, Willamette, Pacifica, Cascade and Citra.
OG is 18 plato. About 65 IBUs.”
Yeah. Seven different hops and four different specialty grains.
Update: I found a well researched clone of Tocobaga that has input from Wayne and Tim Ogden, the original creator of the beer. It’s incredibly dry hopped with Citra, which would definitely increase the costs.
Though Cigar City will be increasing the cost per can of this beer, it’s still a worthwhile red ale to seek out. But if it’s too much to put down for a four pack, just come up with a clone recipe and brew up five gallon yourself.