The new kid on the beer block is XPA, an easy-drinking 4.8% golden, hoppy beer that uses two American hops (Willamette and Cascade), alongside the more traditional English varieties Fuggles and Goldings, all of which marry together to deliver refreshing citrusy and orange-jelly notes on the nose, while the palate is a bittersweet bonding of more juicy citrus and hints of berry before a dry, grainy, bitter finish.
‘For our new beer XPA,’ explains Exmoor Ales’ Managing Director and owner Jonathan Price, ‘head brewer Adrian Newman has produced a slightly more modern IPA style incorporating some American hops for bitterness, but tempered with a sweetness in the mash to produce another classic easily drinkable Exmoor beer.
‘We brewed it because we wanted to celebrate 35 years of brewing, and also to celebrate the commissioning of the new brewery, which we have invested £1.5 million in. There’s plenty of room for expansion and we’ve gone up in size, from 20 barrels to 50, some more drinkers out there will be able to enjoy our beers. The icing on the cake is that we haven’t had to move that far, as it is a stone’s throw from the old one, where we’d been since the brewery’s formation.
The beer is being launched at the Great British Beer Festival in Olympia, London, which runs from August 11-15 and it will be also be available in southwest pubs and further afield.
Exmoor-based journalist Adrian Tierney-Jones is the editor of 1001 Beers You Should Try Before You Die, amongst other books, with both Exmoor Beast and Gold featuring in it, and he gave his verdict on the beer: ‘bruised gold in colour, there’s a waft of citrus fruit and orange jelly on the nose, with a hint of berries in the background. On first sip, it’s immediately refreshing, bittersweet and citrusy, easy to drink, while the finish is notably bitter and grainy in its dryness. The whole effect is of a sessionable and social IPA — one pint is not enough so if you excuse me I’m off back to the bar!’
EXMOOR ALES started in 1980, during the first wave of small independent breweries. It was originally called Golden Hill, after its hill-top location in Wiveliscombe, and its creation brought brewing back to the town for the first time since the closure of Arnold & Hancock’s in the late 1950s. Almost immediately, Golden Hill made its mark on the beer world when its 13th brew of Exmoor Ale was voted Best Bitter at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival in 1980. Since then countless other brewing awards have come their way. Exmoor Ales are also noted for being the originators of the ‘Golden Ale’ style, with the ever-popular Exmoor Gold, available in cask and in bottle. Other beers produced include the bestseller Ale, the wily easy drinking Fox and the cult strong porter Beast, as well as a variety of seasonal specials.
A selection of Exmoor Ales
ALE (3.8%): Classic bitter the colour of maple syrup. On the nose malt comes to the fore with a hint of citrusy hop in the background; a full, dry palate and a finish which offers more malt and a long lasting bitterness. Excellent on its own or with light meals such as salads, chicken and fish.
ANTLER (4%): A smooth and warming dark amber beer. Nose of popcorn and soft toffee. Nuts and toffee on the palate spiked by light tropical fruit. Dry grainy/malty finish, typical of Exmoor beers, leaving the taste buds calling out for more.
FOX (4.2%): Cunningly crafted from a blend of several malts and hops to produce a brunette beer of unusual subtlety and taste. The slight maltiness on the tongue is followed by a burst of hops with a lingering bitter-sweet aftertaste. Just right with fragrant Thai and Chinese dishes.
GOLD (4.5%): Soft malty nose with a hint of citrus hop in the background. Well-rounded and refreshing on the palate with a slight sweetness leading to a malty finish accompanied by a touch of toffee and vanilla plus a long aftertaste. Versatile golden ale to accompany any meal!
STAG (5.2%): Strong, copper-coloured premium bitter with resiny hop mingling with grainy, maltiness on the nose. A voluminous malty character stakes its claim on the palate though a well-fined rich fruitiness also comes along for the ride, before a thrilling descent into a long dry finish where a hint of sweetness keeps matters well-mannered. Especially good with roast beef and game.
BEAST (6.6%): Complex strong porter making liberal use of chocolate and crystal malts. On the nose espresso, currants and raisins, cocoa and a fiery hint of brandy or rum. More fruit cake, alcohol, coffee beans, chocolate on the palate, all kept in line with a spicy hoppiness, before the complex long aftertaste. Surprisingly thirst quenching with a spicy curry or a traditional steak and also add to rich fruit cake.
HOUND DOG (4%): Light and refreshing dark-gold spring beer with a surge of lemon and lime on the nose, a touch of toffee and vanilla on the palate with an exquisite balance of fruity hoppiness and malt on the long finish. Delicious with fish and chips and other traditional bar meals.
DARK (4.2%): Dark amber in colour with crimson tints; crisp chocolate-like character in the mouthfeel, moderated by a blackcurrant smooth fruitiness — think a whisper of blackcurrant jam sweetness and a hint of chocolate spread, all kept from an overarching sweetness with dry toast-like and roasty notes. Crisp and dry finish. Roast duck, especially if the skin has been crisped, goes down a treat with a glass of Dark.
SILVER STALLION (4.3%): Chestnut-coloured best bitter with a full-bodied palate boasting a hint of blackcurrant; the initial grainy malty finish is followed by a growing bitter finish. Serve with Sunday lunch.
WILD CAT (4.4%): Warming amber coloured ale produced for the autumn. The nose has plenty of deep booming earthy hop notes on the nose, while the palate is malty with a touch of autumn berries and a dry finish with more muscular hop thrusting its way. Ideal with pasta and other Italian favourites.
HART (4.8%): Well balanced and full-flavoured mahogany bitter with a grainy maltiness and a hint of citrus leading the way before the delicious spicy, citrus aftertaste weaves its succulent magic. Perfect with pies, casseroles and roast dinners.
EXMAS (5%): Ruby-coloured Christmas beer with a citrus and rich malty nose. The palate is smooth and fruity leading to a smooth finish with spicy and fruit hop notes lingering. A tasty toast to go with the turkey and trimmings.