Almanac Beer – Review: Coopers XPA



An iconic Australian brewer, Coopers have launched a new beer. This is of considerable excitement to me, and here’s a quick list of launches that are far, far worse.



The launch of a P!nk album
The launch of the Costa Concordia
The launch of Paris Hilton’s eponymous perfume
The launch of an Exocet missile
The launch of AFLX
The launch of Shane Warne’s new wig
The launch of an all you can eat tofu diner.


That’ll do for now.




I’m in a suburban Adelaide pub. It’s called the Highway, and is stylised as HWY. Some would argue that for the HWY, this is where style ends. It’s actually pronounced “Hur- wah- yee” and emits exactly the sound you’ll make when paying for a drink here.


It’s one of those maddening pubs that insists on using those ridiculous glasses that are well short of being pints, yet they charge you as if they’re Jeroboams of lager.


Maybe it’s called the Highway because in the Lounge Bar and accompanying deck, highway robbery is the business plan. I often feel in there as if I’ve been personally served by Ned Kelly masquerading as a twenty-something arts/law drop out called Charlotte whose boyfriend plays footy for an Old Collegians club.


You know the one.


With all these crimes temporarily excused I’m in the Sports Bar seeking a Coopers XPA, largely as there’s nowhere closer to home with this on tap. As sports bars go this one is fine with screens showing golf, cricket replays and the thoroughbreds from Hawkesbury and Quirindi. On the other side there’s a mega-wall of betting screens and some burly high-vis blokes.


As is law in this country there’s that one cove in the bar, sans hygiene and base-level socialisation who, despite the early hour, has already been here too long. Wandering about aimlessly he invariably glances and blinks at me, and wobbles over as in his fuddled head it’s time for a chat. Oh, here he comes.


No use putting my head down and avoiding eye-contact. It must be my deodorant. Well, at least his fly is up and on his upper thigh he’s not sporting a dinner-plate sized pee mark.


He belongs to another era, particularly the one before the Highway was renovated when, even around 5 bells on a Friday, the front bar was as dark as a Thai cave and a grizzled and aproned butcher squatted at a table, sold cubes of cheese and slices of mettwurst and handed over your happy hour tucker on actual butchers’ paper. This was before butchers’ paper was hijacked by every clueless conference convenor and it became a toxic weed along with housekeeping, plenaries and parking lots.


The Coopers XPA?


Colossally disappointing. Taking a spot adjacent to the bar with my undersized, overpriced glass, I took a sip. Nothing on the front palate. Pause. Nothing on the middle palate. Another awkward pause. Expecting a late rush of taste and flavour and Coopers yum from the back palate I still found nothing.


I acknowledge that at 5.2% it is more Ali than featherweight, but the XPA seems to have pipe-cleaners for arms, and not guns.


Old mate Puggy then joined me, and instantly confirmed my dismal analysis. We had been promised a lumpy V8, like a Brock Commodore, all throaty and snarling up a country straight, but instead were piloting an insipid sedan. With bald tyres.


The previous Coopers release was Session Ale, and it was sun and joy and tropics. A golden splash of fun, and reggae straight in ya gob. It has proved to be a hit, like a Beatles’ tune from their Rubber Soul era.


Coopers XPA is the song that came 17th in Eurovision 1987, but without the charm and longevity, and ridiculous applause from the irradiated Ukrainians.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. Mickey – your association with Huawei has not gone unnoticed. They have stolen the XPA formula and replaced it with the palate of Southwark 1974 kegs found in the back of the cellar. Treason. Sabotage!
    The AFP will be around to search your home Mickey and “interrogate” the boys about your secret habits. (Burn the Karen Pini stash under the spare bed right now). Just after they close down Malarkey Publications – that well known den of communist fellow travellers. “Allo also, what sort of malarkey do we ‘ave ‘ere then?”

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    Loved your comment PB, must be time for a post from you!

  3. PB- I think we’ll end up in the same institution as the 8,500 missing from last Sunday’s Port and Saints game (official sell-out crowd of 9,500). They were all either assisting authorities with their inquiries, or behind the stadium in the world’s largest marque enjoying the AFL’s largesse.

    Colin – agreed!

  4. An absorbing thesis, Mickey.
    But I must say that I am most disappointed with your findings.
    And as with all deniers I will continue to appoint more experts to conduct further research,
    until I get results that will align with my pre-conceived philosophies.

    This is a canary in the coalmine moment. For if Coopers are producing ordinary beers,
    maybe the end of the world is nigh.

  5. I reckon when Coopers gets it right (Sparkling Ale, Pale Ale, Session Ale, Stout) they’re peerless, but when they don’t (Black Crow, XPA, Clear Ale) it’s duck behind the couch and shut your eyes.

    We also questioned the timing. Session Ale was released in spring and I wonder why a beer would be launched on winter’s eve?

    I will revisit it, just not yet. Thanks Smokie.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Mickey, disappointed to read of your review. They got it so right with their Session Ale.
    An XPA very much lends itself to a spring launch, not a winter’s eve launch.
    I will probably still give it a crack when I come across one though.

  7. Thanks Luke. Like all major brewers in this country Coopers is (finally) feeling pressure from the exponentially growing army of craft beer makers (like your good self) and I reckon they’re panicking. Even their local market share has dropped slightly, but I don’t think XPA will improve their sales (all that will happen is this will cannabalise Session or Pale Ale sales) or forge them a legitimate place in the craft brews conversation.

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