4 Pines Keller Door Hop Hash XPA

Total Score: 5.75/10 HopFlower1Barley1Coriander1Nonicpint1

I’m pretty sure I swore that I wouldn’t review another 4 Pines beer (I was pretty disappointed with their Keller Door Cherry Coconut Brown Ale which tasted nothing like a Cherry Ripe™… an understandable expectation – I’m not crazy). Then they got me again with cool label artwork and the label description “As dangerously aromatic as it is addictive, you’d sell the house with nan in it just to get your hands on a beer with hash in it”. FYI: My nan is dead. Sniff. Maybe this beer will bring back good memories of nan? It is implied after all. Just don’t f**k this one up 4 Pines, this is your last chance to win back my favour and if this beer isn’t glorious with hop goodness I’m afraid our relationship is over (unless you send me free beer).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Clear golden body… wait, is this a Lager?! Nope, says XPA (which isn’t really a style anyway, but… shut up). 1 centimetre white cappuccino foam head that leaves some funky lace scrawl on the side of the glass. Apart from style confusion this looks average. 6/10.

S: Aroma reminds me of Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA, it has that dirty/earthy/resinous hop character to it. Let me get this clear though: it’s quite a bit more muted than Hop Hunter. Don’t want this to be unfairly compared to the excellent Hop Hunter. Not getting any stone fruit as the label describes, this is more on the piney side of the hop spectrum. Also not picking up any malt aroma… hopefully this isn’t as thin as 4 Pines In Season IPA in the flavour. 7/10.

T: Rubbery/earthy hop resin character upfront, a slight “green” hop character in the centre, following this is a dreaded grainy character. Finish is a medium herbal bitterness. Damn that grainy note – I just ranted about it in my last review – it has no place in any Pale Ale. Other than that though it’s really quite mundane, bit like the In Season IPA was. 4 Pines have lost their touch, especially with the Keller Door brews… that said I have never been hugely impressed by them as a brewer. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, some hop oil slickness, and a carbonation that is a tad aggressive – this accentuates sharpness in the bitter finish. 6/10.

D: Not nearly as interesting as the label would suggest, again I’m slightly disappointed by 4 Pines… Hop Hash XPA isn’t terrible, but it’s no competition to several great Aussie Pale Ale brewers: Pirate Life, Green Beacon, Blackmans, Bacchus to name a few. Try their brews before this one. 6/10.

Food match: BBQ ribs n’ shit.


Mismatch Extra Pale Ale

Total Score: 7.15/10 Lemon1Peach1PapayaMango1Nonicpint1

Last Mismatch to try in my Mismatch swag bag is the Extra Pale Ale, which is being abbreviated to XPA much to my dismay [damn beer style trends taking over this craft world of mine dammit!]. Although Mismatch, wisely, haven’t fancied it up with an XPA acronym – they’ve chosen to take the high road IMO and gone with Extra Pale Ale, though the term itself is still neither here nor there (nor anywhere) I do applaud them for not jumping on that XPA bandwagon *cough*Balter*cough*… apologies, bit of a tickle in my throat there. Apparently this [insert non-existent beer terminology here] is a Pale Ale that is strong for a Pale in ABV but not enough to be an IPA… make up your minds people.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy light yellow tinged amber body with a white 1.5 cm cappuccino foam head on top. Looks respectable this: extra pale is this ale. At least Mismatch are clearly exponents of bottle conditioning – I prefer bottle conditioned beers personally. 8/10.

S: Light tropical papaya notes upfront, hints of kiwi fruit as well (ahhh, NZ hops!)… peachy note as well – this Extra Pale Ale has a top-notch hop combo working for it. Although it needs bigger hop aromas IMO. Malt base isn’t really detectable (a total reverse on Archie’s Red Ale) so I’m imagining something crisp and hoppy. 7/10.

T: Interestingly hits straight off with a real lemon/peachy twang, mid palate sweetness from papaya which follows through and finishes slightly succulent with a tropical hop character but not overly bitter. Good flavours at play, however this is in the flavour-realm of a light APA rather than an IPA. Malt backbone is lacking a little, but it doesn’t really suffer from that. Easily the best of the 3 Mismatches. 7/10.

M: Almost medium bodied with a thin but dense carbonation – pretty slick mouthfeel as well. 8/10.

D: Although this isn’t as lacking in the flavour department as the last 2, Extra Pale Ale paints a picture of a brewer (who mind you is from the same city as those overall risk-takers and all-round scurvy-ridden raiders Pirate Life) who doesn’t take enough risks. Whoever the head brewer from Mismatch is they can take the advice of this beer reviewer who has now reviewed 747 different beers (and drunk more than twice as many): Brew BIGGER beers – don’t be afraid of losing consumers – take risks – that is the path to Pirate Life greatness. Anyway my 2 cents. 7/10.

Food match: Asian salads – stuff like a green papaya salad, not too spicy, fresh flavours would work well with this.