Sankt Gallen XPA

Sankt Gallen: Yokohama XPA (Japan: IPA: 6% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Moderate carbonation. Very large creamy white bubbled head that leaves thick sud trails.

Nose: Aubergine. Cream. Bitter hops. Dry digestive biscuits. Dried spices. Turmeric and flour. Slightly musty.

Body: Bitter. Very bitter. Flour. Dried apricot. Passion fruit. Kiwi. Sweet apricot later on. Dried banana.

Finish: Flour. Bitter hops. Aubergine. Very dry. Astringent in its bitterness. Tannins.

Conclusion: Only 48 IBU the bottle says? Are the joking? It may be the hops used, it may be the recipe used, it could be many things, but this beer came through bitter as bloody hell! Dry, almost flour touched and yes, bitter.

I was going to write it off early on. Dismissing it as a one note beer, but then I started to acclimatise. Dry fruit came out and then more of a range of flavours. It was still slightly musty and closed in the flavour, but now could be appreciated. As long as you accepted it is an assault IPA of hops. There’s the dry apricot sweetness, and the bigger the mouthful you take, the more sweetness you get. Also more hops, but by this point that’s like pissing in the ocean. It’s not going to make much more difference so the extra sweetness is very useful.

The beer is weak early on, and when cool, but it does warm up quite nicely. The bitterness never ratchets down, but the flavour does ratchet way up. A fine combination by me.

When the juices get going it brings full on apricot sweetness, with aubergine notes riding out the finish. It is always a beer with a dry clinging feel to the hops, which isn’t a favourite feel for me, but I will admit for sheer kick and flavour it is impressive.

It takes its time to get going, and has the weak points of clinging hops, and sometimes excessive dryness, but it earns a degree of respect for sheer bitterness.

Flawed, but fun, if you are up for it.

Background: Ok, lets check, I made all the Extra Pale jokes last time I did an XPA? Right? Ok, just checking. Picked this up from Yamaoka Sake Shop, a little shop tucked away in Kyoto which has quite the nice set of local Japanese craft beers. It had such a selection that I had to think long and hard before picking up the few I knew I could drink before leaving, or safely get back to England. Oddly, it turns out this is one of the 1001 beers to try before you die. I didn’t know that at the time, so that wasn’t the reason I got the beer. It is worth noting I hadn’t had a very hoppy beer for about two week before I drank this, but I don’t think my taste buds would have become that sensitive in the time.