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My hope is that you’ve seen the movie Airborne, otherwise my impending analogy is about to fall extremely short. Airborne is a 90s movie about a cool, Californian surfer school kid called Mitchell Goosen. Mitchell moves to freezing cold Cincinnati to live with his Aunty, Uncle and quirky cousin. Long story short, he defeats the school bullies, helps his cousin discover his mojo and gets the girl – all while mastering rollerblading (the only movie ever to achieve such a feat).

Balter Brewing Company is the Mitchell Goosen of the Australian beer scene. They are as cool as it comes, and it’s no wonder, as Balter is owned by surf legends Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr, and Bede Durbidge.  Google will tell you everything you need to know about these guy’s achievements but if laziness prevails you can take my word for it – they are the crème de la crème.

The Monthly Beer Digest: Balter Brewing Company XPA Review

Although self-admittedly new to the beer scene, the Balter boys launched their business mid-last-year in stellar fashion. They leveraged their own star power to create a stir in the media, brought brewing god Scotty Hargrave on board, and engaged locals through weekend sessions in their schmick warehouse style brew house. The net result was that their first release of packaged beer, the flagship XPA (and the hero of our story today) sold out in 24 hours.

However, to me, the real stand-out feature of Balter is its branding. Balter represents a massive departure from your standard beer branding.  Their image is one of modern minimalism combined with a playful two-tone colourway. This palette is obviously reflective of their surfing roots but also of the brewery’s name, which means “to dance artlessly without particular skill or grace, but usually with enjoyment”

The Monthly Beer Digest: Balter Brewing Company XPA Review

The Taste

The XPA lives up to it’s abbreviated namesake (Extra Pale Ale) – it literally is a pale ale with that little bit extra. It has a broad tropical fruity body with a blend of American hops that give it a louder flavour than your standard pale. Others have described it with a floral taste and I guess it is a bit flowery but to keep it simple let’s just say that it’s sweet.

However, somehow Scotty has achieved this without the full on bitterness that usually complements such a hoppy taste. The way to think about this is through IBUs (International Bitterness Units). The XPA has 30 IBUs whereas an IPA will have around 70 IBUs. Guzzle away bitterness haters.

The Monthly Beer Digest: Balter Brewing Company XPA Review

The Verdict

I’ve been hooked on the XPA since I first sampled it. It’s a delight. The perfect balance of heavy and light. If you’re finding yourself keen to spice things up but not quite ready to take the plunge into an IPA, then the XPA offers you that happy medium. In the words of Stirling Howland (Balter’s Brand Director) “It’s for people who enjoy a hop forward beer that’s still smooth and easy to drink”.

Oh yeah, and did I mention the branding is first class?

The XPA is available both on tap and within the fabled tinny. Please buy it so other venues get the picture and start stocking it.

Eating: Fish Tacos

Listening: Floating Vibes – Surfer Blood

Vibing: Do yourself a massive favour and watch the surf film ‘View From a Blue Moon’. This movie captures the XPA’s vibe better than any of my words ever could

Check out more from the Monthly Beer Digest series here.


Images taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.