Nick Carr on August 1, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Deschutes Brewery Location Bend, OR Style American Pale Ale (Experimental) ABV 5.9% IBU 55 Hops Nugget, Northern Brewer, Citra, Cascade, Centennial Malts Crystal, Pale Shelf Life 3-6 months Suggested Glass IPA glass, Tulip or Shaker Pint Serving Temp 45-48°F Availability Year-Round Food Pairings Grilled Cuban Sandwich, Veggie Pizza w/ spice tomato sauce, Medium Cheddar, Bananas Foster Everybody loves an experiment. Put experiment and hops in the same phrase, tie it to a well-known brewery, and you suddenly have the attention of any American craft beer enthusiast within earshot. Oh, but we do love our hops! Armory was first beer brewed in Deschutes Portland Pub when it opened in 2008. Like most new beers, this one started as draft only. With a little popularity it started to move up the line through the production and packaging structure; 22oz. bomber bottles to a place in 12 oz. variety packs, and finally made the final ascent to year-round 6 packs. Like many experiments this one is ongoing. For the moment, Armory is brewed with a mix of well-known hops — Nugget, Northern Brewer, Cascade, and Centennial — along with their experimental, which really isn’t an experimental any longer. It was first known only as HBC-394 or YBC-394, but is much better known as Citra these days. Shop Deschutes Brewery on Amazon This isn’t surprising considering it was Deschutes, along with Widmer Brothers and Sierra Nevada, who co-funded acreage for the new hop variety back in 2007. But starting this September, it seems they plan to switch the experimental hop every few months. The September change will feature hop 07270, which should make for an interesting shift in this beer. Hop 07270 is a cross between Apollo and Wye Target. From all I can gather online it has much more of a dank and resiny character than Citra with its cocktail of fruit-forward characteristics. On their sales sheet — which includes a spider or radar graph of the aroma profile, something I wish all hop sellers would do — Hopsteiner uses aroma descriptors like onion, garlic and black pepper… so probably more earthy and dank. If you happen to find yourself drinking this beer, Deschutes Brewery has a quick survey that allows you to become a voice in their experiment. The idea is to gather feedback about the different experimental hops they use in the brew which will then help both Deschutes and the hop farmers decide if pursuing a given variety — both on the farm and in more beer — is worthwhile. Also, if you happen to want to try your hand at brewing this exact beer, Deschutes Brewery is nice enough to offer a simple clone recipe, though they leave you to work out the details. (Perhaps, these pale ale recipes can help guide you through the process.) THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Armory XPA. If you tasted this beer before, please share your thoughts and opinions with everyone in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Armory XPA pours a light amber with an orange heart. Strong carbonation rises in a continuous stream off the bottom ensuring the head stays aloft. Head is a creamy off-white, compact, and cream-like, rising to about a finger’s height. Shows good retention for the style, with some degree of head holding throughout. Clarity is good. Floral and sweetly strong citrus greets the nose. Pine, apricot, light orange blossom, an edge of intense citrus, light grassiness, grapefruit. Underneath, especially as the beer warms a bit, is a pale, somewhat honeyed malt aroma. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is mid-weight and mouthfeel is smooth with medium carbonation pulling it along. Bittering toward the back with a finish slightly crisp, but still tinged with fruity sweetness. Taste is a canvas of hop color stretched across a malty under-coating of light toast and almost imperceptible caramel. Sweet and floral at the front before become more citrus-like, drifting into the pine-like bittering mid-palate. Ends in clean resinous bitterness, with just a trace of sweet staying on. Slight background after the swallow of earth or light mushrooms. FINISHING THOUGHTS It would be fun to review this beer again in the year or so, when the new version is released with the new hop variety, just to see how it’s changed. I’ll put it on my list of things to do. I haven’t had a pale ale in sometime, so this one was a real pleasure. Armory XPA makes all the right moves for a pale ale with the added humph of a nicely complex hop profile. It doesn’t try to play itself off as an IPA at any point. The bittering just slightly overbalances the malt without getting anywhere close to overplaying its hand. The aftertaste is worth noting with that earthy slightly mushroom-like thing going on. It may sound off-putting to some, but really it’s pretty low key. I liked it… different from the strong bitterness or fruitiness at the end of many IPAs. Armory XPA is a very drinkable beer, perfect fuel for manning the grill on a hot summer day or a sit down lunch at your favorite cafe. Give it a try, before the experiment evolves. Cheers!