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).