XT 13 Pacific Red Ale (500ml, 4.5% ABV)

Sounding more like a 1920s numberplate than a beer, it’s another bottle from the enigmatic XT brewery, this time from their ‘special’ (rather than ‘core’) range.

One thing I didn’t realise about their labels: the background is colour-coded, so you can tell what the beer will look like from the bottle. Having said that, a few of the beers in their special range seem to break with this system – either that or they really are brewing green beer

The hops in XT 13 are a thoroughly international affair: Columbus from the US, Galaxy from Australia and Wakatau from New Zealand, hence the ‘Pacific’ of the title. The list of malted barleys (or ‘grain bill’ as a brewer would have it) is also thorough, with pale, red, caramalt and crystal malts, plus some wheat.

XT 13Once poured, it’s an orangey red with a little foam on the top. Is that zingy raspberry aroma a figment of my imagination, knowing that it’s described as a ‘red’ ale? There’s definitely something lively and sherbety about it, and the nutty malt reminds me of my favourite brown ale – Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown.

There’s fruit in the taste, peaches and limes, but unlike your typical New World IPA they’re not at the forefront. Instead, they hide behind a mask of lip-smacking black pepper. A juicy aftertaste rounds out an unusual but thoroughly satisfying beer.

Written by Richard Salsbury

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