XHOPS Pale Ale (Red Label) | Toppling Goliath Brewing Company

20 Reviews
no score
Send samples
XHOPS Pale Ale (Red Label)XHOPS Pale Ale (Red Label)

Brewed by:
Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
Iowa, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Deep in the labs at Toppling Goliath, through the vaulted door, down the steps, and past the room labeled “Beware the Leopard” lies a series of experiments long forgotten. The Xhops series - a biological hybrid of many experimental hops. Each color a unique flavor of pale ale. Released throughout 2013 and 2014, this beer begs to make a return, but can you handle it?

Added by BottleCaps80 on 12-15-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 155
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

phenomenal pale ale, maybe my favorite thus far, although they have all been good in this series, and i love the project. they have all been real different not only from each other, but from other pales on the market. this one has a real east coast vibe, delicate and expressive hop character, might as well have been brewed in vermont! some yeast chunks in the orangey brew, rather clear compared to the others, save the sediment. frothing white head is several inches tall with a relaxed pour, and lots of lacing. the nose is the best feature of this one, so much citrus, candied orange, dried meyer lemon, and then a slight like creamsicle sweetness and richness. malt is golden promise type, honey malt, and its just big enough for the hops without weighing down the beer, it stays super light, only partially due to its amazing carbonation. the hops carry almost no bitterness, but the orange rind character never really relaxes, and that sort of ends up being the dominant flavor of the beer, although one could easily detect traces of other fruits, even apples or pears in this, its not sweet though, which is what makes it for me. one of the better american pales I've encountered in some time, and one i would like to see commercially available before long. it would be a staple in my fridge.

 1,301 characters

Photo of mendvicdog
3.87/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

We did the blue, red, green, and yellow xhops side by side last Wednesday.

All these xhops have a similar light straw golden color.

Predominantly pepper hops smell. Really unique. Not sure how I feel about it. Kept me interested.

Smooth creamy mouthfeel.

Pepper is somewhat stronger in the taste. Not offputting just unexpected. Aftertaste smoother than others ending with a citra type flavor.

I did a little blending and really like this blended with the blue.

 467 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.77/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Pours with a small white head. Chunky collar. A bit of lacing.

Smell - Kinda dank. Citrusy. Some pepper. Really interesting.

Taste - Grapefruit. That same pungent and kinda peppery herbal flavor. Cracker malt and some spicy bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. More bitter than others.

Overall - Odd hop flavor, but fascinating. Keeps me interested more than the others.

 439 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.03/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle of the second batch recently delivered last week; poured into a TG chalice today, 2/8/2014.

App- Clear medium copper body. 1 finger white head, good retention, bits of lacing but not a ton.

Smell- Passion fruits, orange, bready sweet malts, bitter resinous pine

Flavour- Passion fruits, pine resin, a bit of orange and tangerine, a nice biscuit presence balances out the hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied, good carbonation, not particularly dry but very drinkable as it is not terribly bitter. Aftertaste is of pine and orange and doesn't stick around too long.

Overall- Very tasty and easily the best of the Xhops bunch (except for Green which I have not had). I like the passion fruit presence with some pine that doesn't bring a ton of bitterness, which makes for a nice drinkable IPA. I'd definitely suggest using this as a secondary aromatic hop- behind something like Citra or Mosaic would be a good place as it'll add more hop flavours and aromas without contributing more bitterness.

 1,017 characters

Photo of ZAP
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Orange/oak colored...minimal head...nice lacing..

S-Softer aroma....a bit catty with some garlic/onion...also overripe citrus fruits (oranges/tangerines).

T-Nice flavor to this but not as assertive with the hops as some of the other TG pale ale offerings. Reminds me of a Psuedo sue light...a bit dank...catty...citrusy....malt meshes perfectly as it seems to in all these TG beers (an underrated aspect)...malt is clean, and malty in a crackery way....

M-Feels like a pale ale and definitely not an IPA

O-Reminds me of a lighter, less assertive pseudo sue....good beer...better than a lot of pale ales but not as good as a lot of the others TG produces...

 662 characters

Photo of Ri0
4.39/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

poured 22oz bottle into snifter. This was bottled about 4 days ago.

A - Hazy dark apricot in color with a 2 finger white head. Fades into a thick collar around the glass and leaves large rings of lacing.

S - Big aromas of citrus, tropical, and some dank hops hit the nostrils. There is a sweet ripe tangerine and honey component, along with a bit of spruce.

T - There is a unique flavor with this hop profile. It has the tropical, citrus notes, but brings in something a bit different. Has a pleasant sweetness of tangerine and honey, with plenty of bitter grapefruit and spruce at the end.

M - Well carbonated with a medium body and slick oily feel.

O - On par with the other TG brews I have had. Very full tropical flavor with the bitterness to quench thirst. IPA's are certainly their signature beers. Always worth hunting these down when they appear in Madison.

 875 characters

Photo of lunarbrew
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours hazy light orange, reminiscent of Pseudo and Sosus, with a fluffy white head. It sticks around for about a minute. Smell is rich and tropical at first. Unfortunately, the nose weakens considerably within 3 minutes or so. I'm getting a lot of the grapefruit accents followed by juicy mango. Something akin to Centennial pops in my head here. There is a little bit of orange scent and also a faint soapiness. Most of the nose here is supported by a strong malt backbone. The beer is relatively sweet smelling (and tasting) because of this. The flavor is similar to the nose. There is grapefruit up front, followed by a softer and sweeter fruit (mango). Bitterness is pretty mild at first, although a slight resin hits the mid-palate and lingers. Definitely more bitter than Pseudo. Mouthfeel is very full and creamy for an apa. I love this approach and think it fits the beer perfectly. Overall, I really enjoy the beer and the hop variety. I don't know if it's my first choice for an all-around single hop beer, but that's not the point. It would be well suited as the primary variety for a complex ipa or iipa. It could use some support, however, in regards to bittering attack, flavor complexity, and a lasting aroma. Thanks TG for the interesting brew! I'm looking forward to cracking my xhop-green soon!

 1,312 characters

Photo of brother_kenneth
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks again, OnIowa! This brewery is pushing out some of the best APAs in existence. This one is no exception! The beer pours a nice light orange color and has some good foam and lacing. Nose is crazy, almost New Zealand kind of hoppy. Very much tropical fruit and pepper in the nose. Taste is hoppy as hell and delicious. Whatever hops they're using here, they need to continue using them. The beer has loads of tropical fruit, pine, onion, and pepper in the flavor. Might sound odd, but it tastes phenomenal. Great soft mouth feel, which is something I really look for in the style. Hands down, I am falling in love with this brewery. Can't wait to try an IPA from them sometime, now that I've had a few of their APAs. Cheers!

 729 characters

Photo of kevanb
3.79/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

650ml bottle poured into a Toppling Goliath Teku. Enjoyed on 4/1/14, reviewed from tasting journal.

The beer pours a very clear copper color, hues of light amber and orange, slight chill haze with some noticeable bubbles rising to the top of the glass. A thick, white head, soapy in texture, about 2 fingers high rises from the glass with nice retention that leaves a big wall of lace behind. The aroma is sticky, sappy, very earthy, lots of resinous pine, crisp and bitter hop spice with some tangy citrus peel as well as some high profile malts, sweet and rich, almost sugary at times. The flavors mirror well, plenty of earthiness, pine, hop spice, perhaps some grassiness, almost a hint of black pepper or something vegetal, with a fair amount of tangy grapefruit peel that amps up the bitterness before a potent counterbalance of malt sweeps over the tongue, rich, thick and sweet. The mouthfeel is nice, juicy texture but a bit slick and almost oily at times, nice amount of lively carbonation that coats the mouth well before finishing strong with a lightly dry kick.

Verdict: A nice pale ale from Toppling Goliath, perhaps a bit earthy and malty for my liking, but it's very well constructed and balanced. The hops show off a variety of earthy flavors, one of the more unique experiences I've had with the vegetal and peppery influences to sit alongside the fruit flavors.

 1,382 characters

Photo of d5001986
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bomber poured into tulip. (2nd release)

A: Clear golden color with large off-white head.

S: Citrus dominates, accompanied by honey and slightly of grass.

T: Orange, lemon, a little pine and finishes with some light malt.

M: Smooth medium body with moderate carbonation.

O: TG never fails to deliver a great brew. While I don't think it quite measures up to PseudoSue, it's still a very well done APA.

 410 characters

Photo of mjpolzin
3.84/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Without doing a side by side, I can't completely decide if I like Red or Blue best of the ones I have been fortunate enough to try. Based on my ratings though, I think I am giving Red the nod.

This beer looks like just about every other Toppling Goliath Pale Ale I have had; a pale, cloudy golden color. The smell was better than the taste. The smell was a pretty straight forward hoppy, bitter, citrusy scent. The taste though was a little overly aggressive and bitter...which seems to be the consensus of many reviews on this website. After awhile though, my palate adjusted to the taste and I eventually really enjoyed this beer. I put it above the Blue because it didn't have a watery aftertaste like Xhops Blue did.

As much fun as the Xhops experiment has been (and probably hard on people's wallets as we all run out to buy the latest color), I had a PseudoSue right after I finished the Red and realized that these experimental hops do not hold a candle to a world class brew like Sue!

 995 characters

Photo of Pintofbrown
3.98/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Into a snifter it goes.

Red label is a hazy gold with amber highlights. The foam builds to about a finger's width before devolving into a white ring around the glass, very nice sheet lacing.

The aromas are aggressive and citrusy. The edge to the bouquet comes from a green onion dankness and menthol, peppery quality. The citrus is more sour, grapefruits, some lemon.

The palate focuses on the dank green onion quality with a tinge of earthiness. The citrus that does appear is heavy on grapefruit juice on the back side of the throat and in the swallow. Very subtle peppery quality throughout the drink. The bitterness in the swallow and on the cheeks feels like pine or menthol, also mixed with some orange.

More watery over the tongue, with decent creaminess. The light-medium body is wholly appropriate.

Overall, the Red label of XHOPS is slightly more aggressive than Green label. The hop qualities come across more dank (green onion / garlic), with the impression of sour citrus and almost no malt detectable on the palate. A very nice pale ale from TG, once again.

 1,078 characters

Photo of mlhyatt
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass

Don't see a bottle date but it still tastes very fresh.

A - looks like any other IPA. golden amber with a decent size head that doesn't really ever go away. Looks fine but they all look the same really.

S - a lot of pine on the nose with citrusy notes hidden in there. Really getting a lot of orange zest with hints of pineapple. The smell really delivers. The malt is really sweet.

T- much like the nose with a fairly good bitter bite to it. The pine is strong throughout the journey through your mouth. the fruit notes are there but are pretty subtle. The biggest fruit that comes through is pineapple. The malt comes through and really smooths out the hop character.

M- carbonation it pretty heavy. The hop bite lasts throughout but it is somehow kind of pleasant. The malt really smooths out the beer. Keeps the beer tamed from getting carried away with the hop character.

O- This is a great pale ale but it has the hop presence of an IPA. However, the taste really brings out the balance between the malt and hops. Overall, an excellent pale ale. Wish I had the rest of them to try.

 1,136 characters

Photo of alaimoa
4.81/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Overall amazing on par with Sue and other top APAs. Sweet, not too bitter, perfect feel with a smooth finish. Very balanced with plenty of depth and highly drinkable. Surprised by the critical reviews.
Pours nice amber with a bit of off white head. Smell heavy on citrus orange and lemon. Taste right on par with nose and a nectar like feel in a medium body.

 358 characters

Photo of nickapalooza86
4.74/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a hazy orange color, half finger of head, nice lacing

Smells like the green label, just with more pungent citrus, grapefruit, still some tropical, pine, very close to Sue

Taste is pine, tropical fruit, grapefruit, cantaloupe, orange peel, earthy hop flavor, sweet underlying malt, HUGE and I mean IPA or bigger huge Grapefruit bitterness on the back end, and it sticks around!

Mouthfeel is medium, average carbonation, finishes rather wet, not drying at all.

Great APA, I feel both of the XHOPS are very similar to SUE the Red more then the Green but both have that familiar flavor, Yeast?, Water?, Hopping schedule? Whatever it is I am not complaining, they are all great and have there differences.

 710 characters

Photo of cpolking
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a cloudy apricot in color. There is about an inch of thick off-white head, with a bit of creaminess to it.

The aroma is pungent and aromatic, full and round, tropical fruits, overripe melons, with some of that hop note that is, I guess, best described as musky.

The taste follows the aromas, throwing in citrus, apricot/peach, some passion fruit, with a tingling, bitter, puckering finish like biting a grapefruit rind. Up until that biting finish however, it is full, round, smooth, a beer with an ample bosom shall we say. Like the green, it has varied and intense flavors, but in the end, they do meld together in a very harmonious (and delicious) whole.

 676 characters

Photo of darthvohn
3.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Glass Used: Nonic tumblr

Appearance: A crystal clear copper body with a fluffy cream white head. As the foam melts, an even lacing is left behind. Pretty ale.

Smell: Dank hops and green onion vapors, a bit of citrus ,a bit of resin and malty sweetness fills the nose.I get some peppery notes as well.

Taste: Dank and oniony qualities, indeterminate citrus, and spicy malt on the back end with a short bitter after taste that vanishes quickly.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation. Stickiness coats the lips and cheeks.

Overall: A very enjoyable and easy drinking APA. The Yellow label is still my favorite. I plan to try the Orange label next.

 642 characters

Photo of NeedBeerHere
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was bottled only a few days ago so it is REALLY fresh.

Pours out a really nice apricot in color that looks to be unfiltered. A nice white one finger head with decent retention. The head seems to hang onto the glass as it dissipates in the center. Smell is really nice and tropical. Definitely some orange, pineapple in the nose. Pretty hard to get any malt in the nose but there seems to be a tiny bit of caramal but REALLY in the background. Taste is tropical as in the nose with quite a bit of bitterness that really hangs in the throat -- longer than almost any beer I've taste. Mouthfeel is fairly decent for the style. Definitely not real thick but the carbonation does make it more thick than your typical IPA. Overall, a pretty good beer to say the least. It's not mind-blowing but I would buy it again.

Edit: I'm sure this hop would be great with other hops. I'm just not a huge single hop brew lover as they sometimes seem too one-dimentional.

 959 characters

Photo of BottleCaps80
4.39/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

XHops from Toppling Goliath, is a new series of 5 experimental pale ales. Each beer in the series is single hopped with a brand new variety of hop that, up until this time, has never been used in a production brewed beer, hence why these are experimental beers. Each beer in the series is differentiated by the color of the label: red, green, yellow, orange and blue.

This review is for the red label. Bottled on 12/13/13. Consumed on 12/15/13, so this beer is 2 days old and as fresh as it gets. Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head IPA glass.

A: A large, fluffy off-white head billows to the top of the glass with tight, compact bubbles. The beers pours a very hazy orange to Amber color that almost glows. As consumed, the beers leaves lacy white streaks that cling to the glass from the top to bottom.

S: As with all of TGs beers, the aroma explodes from the glass. WOW...lots of citrus and candied orange peel jump into your nostrils. Some slight piney notes as well. This smells amazing!

T: immediately hits you with tropical fruits like guava and papaya up front, which quickly turns to bitter grapefruit pith mid palate. As it finishes, the beer becomes very earthy and dank with a long lingering bitterness. Slightly boozy on the exhale, but not hot at all. The bitterness in this beer lingers forever. 5 minutes after finishing this beer, I could still taste the bitterness in the back of my throat, but it isn't overpowering.

M: This beer is excellently carbonated and has a nice citrus oil feel to it that coats your mouth. Very, very drinkable.

O: This is another home run from TG. The label calls this a pale ale, but I would definitely consider it an IPA, simply from a bitterness factor alone. Tropical fruits and citrus dominate this beer. I hope this hop variety goes from experimental to full commercial use, as it is a great use of the hop here. Huge bitterness with a very earthy dankness. Well done TG!

 1,954 characters

Photo of classytom
4.21/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bomber poured into pint glass. 2nd running of the XHOPS Red Label.

A - Light golden/amber with a slight haze. Minimal head but good, sticky retention

S - Grapefruit and pine. More earth and spice than citrus.

T - More hop forward and not quite as citrusy as the PseudoSue. More pine & pepper in the swallow, but again very well balanced with the malts.

M - Medium with a sticky aftertaste

O - Very tasty and keeps me drinking. Smooth as all TG pales and IPA tend to be. More bitter on the finish, but overall very very good APA.

 539 characters

XHOPS Pale Ale (Red Label) from Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
4.2 out of 5 based on 155 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.