The first beer from Deschutes’ Portland brewing system (a fancy way of saying their new brewpub in Portland) is an IPA that I am pleased to try, Armory XPA. The nose has a citrus quality to it, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by that, which was good. It should be noted that my nose isn’t the most astute one, so someone else might pick up on the scent more, but I found it muted, like orange blossoms, instead of oranges. However I thought that was perfect for complimenting the finish of this beer.
The hop bitterness starts right up, not overwhelming but still a constant that rides the tongue front to back. The lingering scent helps play off this citrus bitterness, and just like when it clears your nose, the hops clear the palate rather quickly, leaving a slight dryness. The clean finish makes this more ideal, I think, for a late spring beer, when the air is mostly warm, the flowers are confidently out, and skirts are starting to show up.
Unfortunately Portlandia has other ideas about the weather, and it’s been friggin’ cold and windy, even into May. The fact that the pub (and this is truly a wonderful place) is playing Led Zeppelin’s Fool in the Rain is not persuading the climate to shift warmer, sadly. This doesn’t detract from the beer, but I’ll admit that sometimes where and when you have a drink sometimes matters almost as much as what the drink is.
Still, the citrus notes hold up throughout the beer, and I didn’t start noticing a shift toward a more bitter aftertaste until I was 2/3rds through–but this is a hoppy effect; the bitterness can intensify as one drinks, and the beer warms up. It doesn’t detract from the beer; most beers shift as you drink them, but this one follows it’s path of floral citrus hop bitterness, and I’m just going to be led until it’s gone.
The XPA looks a little less amberish than I would’ve expected. It’s not golden by any means, and is has a slight haze that I associate more with hefes than pale ales (I don’t believe it’s out of style though), but given what I’d seen from the Cascade Pale Ale, I had this idea in my head this beer would be clearer. Trust me, I got over it.