San Diego has become known, in a sense, for extreme beers—beers that veer wildly from the traditional style guidelines or go overboard in terms of hops or adjuncts. When it comes time to judge a brewery, though, it’s best to look to the classics and see how they stand up against the common styles that everyone produces. X Extra Pale Ale is a good place to start with AleSmith, as pale ales are familiar and generally easily palatable, yet offer a range broad enough for experimentation.
X is a light, golden beer with a foamy head—the classically photogenic beer with a deep hue. Aromatically, it’s seriously citrus with lemon and orange peel leading the first impression, but also with a hint of pine and biscuit. That bouquet is a solid introduction for the beer to come.
X is light, balanced, and easy to pour back quickly with a great follow-through from start to finish. It carries a depth of flavors through the tasting process, but it blends smoothly, everything fitting together with no abrupt change of direction. Notably, the hops carry this beer and they could have dubbed it with a trendy “session IPA” label as easily as extra pale ale.
It begins with a light floral flavor and a big citrus tone, then ultimately finishes with a resinous, floral reprise and just a hint of sweet malt to whisk it away. X is what a pale ale should be. It’s a light and easy drinking beer that pairs well with lunch and any number of dishes from curry to pizza to a BLT. It’s versatile and sounds simple all the way from its style name to its “X’ brand, but it’s got a depth of character that keeps it from just being “an easy drinking session beer.”
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
City: San Diego, CA
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.25% ABV
Availability: 22 oz., draft