Saturday, March 21, 2015

Upstate Brewing X.P.A. (Extra Pale Ale)

3.9
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1309) - Albany, New York, USA - MAR 21, 2015
Session IPAs are all the rage these days, but some breweries are showing that they haven’t abandoned the American Pale Ale style (re-inventing and re-imaging it yes, but not ignoring it completely). Case in point: Upstate Brewing’s X.P.A. – an “extra” pale ale. It has more body than a session IPA and opts for hop flavor instead of raw bitterness. It’s also highly drinkable, which is the icing on the cake.

I poured a 16oz can into a nonic pint glass. It was canned on 3/16/15 and a 4-pack cost $9.99 ($2.50 per can or $0.16 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark copper hue; very cloudy. Pours to an average size, white, frothy head which retains and laces quite well.

Smell: Light tropical and stone fruit. Minor notes of grassy hops, too.

Taste: Clearly the hops are the star of the show here, and there’s quite a lot of them according to the can: Apollo, Bravo, Columbus and Comet. These are under-appreciated varietals and they can do the same job the more popular hops are known for. Up front there’s a light fruity flavor – apricot and peach especially. Through the middle I get a mild grassy/herbal character, which is a nice transition from beginning to end. Consistently bitter throughout with a drying sensation right as it finishes. The malt base is there, but doesn’t add a lot as far as distinct taste. However, the beer doesn’t come across as unbalanced; just the opposite, actually. Those tired of the Session IPA trend would do well to give this one a try.

Drinkability: At only 4.6% ABV, Upstate Brewing X.P.A. is in no way thin or lightweight. The mouthfeel is a solid medium body with perfect carbonation. It’s a little refreshing while in the mouth and goes down smooth. There’s a faint dryness in the aftertaste, but it’s easily tolerable. I’d think this would be a versatile brew: great for tailgating, sessioning, or pairing with traditional American food. I also appreciate that it comes in a can since this palette lends itself to portability (Saratoga Race Track in August, for example). 
Grade: 8/10