Total Score: 7.15/10
I’m on a Balter high after reviewing their new Pilsner and I figured I should give their XPA a look in (even though I first tried it at a bar on Eagle pier Brisbane ages ago when it was first released and I thought the bar staff had incorrectly poured me a schooner of S&W Pacific Ale). Obviously the fact that Scott “I dun work for S&W annimore!” Hargrave is now the head brewer for Stone &… err, Balter, means we can’t cast aspersions all day because: Duh; Balter XPA is basically the same recipe as Pacific Ale. It doesn’t change the fact that a great many people who don’t know why they love S&W Pacific Ale so much will also feel a strange affinity to XPA… but perhaps that was Balter’s plan all along [insert evil laugh here].
Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.
A: Presents a cloudy Gamboge (just another fancy word for orange because I wear some fancy pants) body with a wispy white sea foam head that begins boisterous but ends half-hearted… Balter’s not great with head retention, poor fellas. 6/10.
S: Stone & Fruit… or stone fruit prominent hops, like S&W PA, in fact I can safely copy/paste my comments from my review of Pacific Ale without feeling like I’m cheating: “There’s a really strong peach and nectarine aroma wafting from this brew that says “sit down, take a load off, enjoy!”.” Yep, like that one, only S&W got there first on the peach/nectarine aroma train, so boo Balter. 8/10.
T: The flavour is pretty much EXACTLY as I remember S&W Pacific Ale to be, to the point that in a blind taste test I would be hard pressed to tell them apart. A light peach/nectarine hop note, sweet malt to balance out the hops with precision, and a finish that hints at tart apple but ultimately finishes dry with a light floral bitterness. Yep, it’s the same f__ken beer Balter, cheeky sods! 7/10.
M: Mid to light, more viscous than PA, but with a similar lively carbonation. 7/10.
D: The only major difference between Balter XPA and S&W PA is vessel size and ABV: 5% vs 4.4%. So the only questions you need to ask yourself is: 375ml can or 330ml bottle? And: Do I need to drive anywhere afterwards? To me this is a wasted opportunity of a beer. Yes I get that S&W is the most popular craft beer and when I worked in the bottle-o it outsold the shit out of every other craft beer – what craft brewer wouldn’t want a slice of that sweet sweet money pie? However Hargrave could have used this opportunity not to rest on his laurels but create an even better Pale Ale… instead now his laurels are crushed underbody. 7/10.
Food match: Tapas or Greek cuisine as I said in my S&W PA review.