4 Pines had previously released Hop Hash XPA as a draft only Keller Door release. As of June 2017, it’s back but this time it’s in bottles.
As with many 4 Pines beers this pours with a beautiful clarity, showcasing a sparkling, transparent gold that twinkles in the light.
It’s effervescent in the glass, with bubbles streaming through the liquid, culminating in a frothy snow-white head.
Through the foam, you’re smacked in the face by aromas of apricot, honeydew melon, grapefruit and lime. These carry through on the first sips, with apricot sweetness and a lingering grapefruit bite providing the essential and long lasting experience of this beer.
Overall, the bitterness is moderate, weighing in at 50 IBUs for the number geeks. What this means in reality is that this beer sits delightfully at the crossroads between pale ale and IPA.
It does what this recently invented style, the XPA, should do.
Flavourful But Restrained
It’s a crisp and definite bitterness but not at all aggressive. It’s restrained enough so that, with the fresh and fruity flavours, it would be perfectly reasonable to pair this beer with a snack of salty edamame or a bright and lightly spicy Asian salad.
Alternatively, bruschetta is going to provide an excellent array of flavours and textures to contrast the beer. The carbonation will lift flavours and cut through oils, the bitterness will challenge tart tomatoes and the stonefruit and citrus will play excitedly across toasted bread.
Hop hash goes by another name, lupulin powder. It’s yet another tool at the brewers disposal and one that’s becoming increasingly popular. We’ve recently seen the likes of Feral Brewing and Ekim experiment with it.
One balancing act in the release of new beers is the setting of expectations among consumers.
Already some of the feedback around Hop Hash XPA has involved people questioning what the lupulin powder actually does, claiming there’s no notable difference.
When a brewery brands a beer with a certain label, it sets an expectation among customers. However, in this case I think the focus should be on greater education of consumers, rather than the brewery changing their approach.
There might not be a noticeable difference in particular aromas or flavours when lupulin powder is used but surely that’s the point. It provides concentrated hop oil content, intense aroma and flavour in a small packet.
The benefits are on the brewer’s side from a cost and efficiency perspective, while reducing the potential for vegetal flavours.
Brewers require far less weight of lupulin powder compared to hop pellets meaning there are logistical and environmental benefits too.
Lupulin powder provides another tool for brewers to play with. Early signs show that it’s a promising tool that has a good future.
From: Manly / Brookvale, NSW
Beer style: XPA
Pair with: Bruschetta
Have you tried 4 Pines Hop Hash XPA? Leave a comment below and share your experience.