Deschutes Armory XPA
I’m not going to lie: in a world brimming with IPAs and big experimental brews, sometimes I just want a beer. Yes, IPAs and experiments are still beer, but I think you know what I mean – sometimes I don’t need to sit around sniffing at the rim of my glass to figure out if that’s grapefruit or melon my olfactory is detecting through the earthy malts. Or if that is actual vanilla bean or just an extract. Sometimes I just want to drink something that tastes like, well, beer. Like I said.
I was at JB’s Pub, a new place near Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and Churchill Downs, recently. Tons of TVs, big open space that will be perfect for pre-game socializing – classic sports bar, right? Well, I start looking at the fairly large draft list, and I see Deschutes Armory XPA. This is one I’d not had, but I figured it for an “extra pale ale,” which told me probably a standard pale ale with a bit of extra hop kick. I later found out that it stands for “experimental pale ale,” but I was happy to learn that I was still right on in terms of what I was expecting.
My expectation? Beer that just tastes like beer, or at least what I deem beer to taste like. For my palate, an American pale ale is perfect, because you get some hop boldness without overpowering your mouth, along with drinkability that won’t put you under the table. This stuff does have a nice citrus note to it, but the hop essence is turned up only to medium strength – it kind of reminded me of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s just drinkable, while letting you know it’s there. And, heck, this beer only has scant more alcohol than a Miller Lite. You know, like beer, and not like watered-down wheat cereal.
But perhaps the coolest thing about this is that the brewers at Deschutes are going to tweak the beer based on your feedback. As in, you can help make this beer what it should be. You can take an online survey to request more floral notes or less, more citrus, bitterness, whatever.