XPA Extra Pale Ale
Panhead Quickchange – a glorious hit of Mosaic , Galaxy and Citra Alphas.
XPA. It’s here to stay.
Extra Pale Ale, or XPA, is a nebulous beer style that divides both amateur and professional brewers, with its lack of easy definition & very different commercially available interpretations.
It’s a style that sits somewhere between American Pale Ale – standard strength, hop forward but sufficiently malty to remain balanced and easy to drink – & US West Coast IPA – boldly bitter, aggressively hoppy & higher in alcohol. But with Strong Pale Ales and Session IPAs on the market, the lines have blurred, with a significant overlap and confusion that even seasoned beer judges – and drinkers - grapple to resolve.
So, what’s Extra?
What’s “Extra” in an XPA is open to the brewer – whether it’s just extra pale in colour, extra light in body, or packs something else extra to a regular pale ale, like higher strength or more hop aroma & flavour. There are even suggestions the name pays homage to the “X” that was traditionally marked on British ale barrels to indicate the strength of the contents. The real origins are lost to the sands of time.
There are no guidelines from the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP) or the US Brewers Association, the Australian Amateur Brewing Championships or the Independent Brewers Association. It’s an evolving style brewers can play with. The common theme seems to be– easy drinking, perfect as a lawnmower beer or a Summer BBQ session, & well-suited to Australian climates & tastes.
It’s here to stay
It seems XPA is here to stay. Balter XPA, their first release, put the style on the map in the Australian craft beer scene in 2016. Little Creatures brought their XPA online at the end of 2018. Panhead Custom Ale’s Quickchange was an instant classic that helped launch this New Zealand brewer onto the global stage where it contends with American versions like Bear Republic’s XP Pale Ale & Three Floyds X-tra Pale Ale. Other iterations include local boys Old Wives Ales Hair of the Dog, NSW’s Philter XPA & Woolshed Brewing’s Amazon X.
Kick off your XPA Brewing
In many ways the XPA is a brewer’s equivalent to a blank canvas. Get creative, the rest of the brew is up to you.
To Share the XPA brewing experience, AHB offer a couple of creative and very punchy XPA recipe kits. Both our NZXPA & Tropical XPA – offer pale malts & lighter body while pushing the envelope of hop aroma & flavour.
(https://www.australianhomebrewing.com.au/recipe-kit-nzxpa-extra-pale-ale) NZXPA pays homage to the well-known New Zealand classic using all Kiwi malts & Nelson-grown Wakatu hops (& a cheeky dose of US Mosaic) for bold citrus aromatics, with a restrained bitterness for easy drinking.
(https://www.australianhomebrewing.com.au/recipe-kit-tropical-xpa) Tropical XPA does what it says on the tin – big tropical fruit salad notes come from judicious amounts of Azacca & Ekuanot hops, still relatively unknown varieties that deserve wider acclaim.