Posts Tagged ballast point
As the Christmas holiday draws near, I think about what will warm my belly in the most seasonal way possible, while still providing some taste exploration. Ballast Point isn’t afraid to experiment with their beers, which is good for us consumers. Case in point: the Copper ESB on nitro (5.5% abv): It poured a rich copper color (duh) with a creamy cap of off white head. So thick was the head that not much made it through the foam in the way of aromas. The taste started off very mild, with a little caramelly sweetness. There was just a touch of bitterness into the middle. Almost no carbonation and a surprisingly light body did nothing to change the mildness. Not much else to distinguish it. A seriously benign drink.
To wake up my taste buds from such a sleepy start, I next tried the Schooner Wet Hop (5.5% abv): This one poured a deep golden color, with thin white head. It smelled grassy, floral and pretty refreshing. The taste was mild, with a moderate hoppiness and some of the flowers and grass I got from the smell. Mild through the middle, with medium carbonation and light body, it finished hoppy and somewhat sour, with flowers and grass lingering. I appreciated the change from hoppy to sour back to hoppy, but overall another mild one.
I recently found occasion to go back to Ballast Point to sample more of their ever-expanding list of experimental beers. As usual, they did not disappoint. Starting with the always good Sculpin on nitro (7% abv), this beer poured golden in color, with thick creamy white head. I detected sour and mild malty aromas with only some hoppiness. The taste was mild and light. Hoppy and creamy up front, it was light in body and carbonation, mostly due to the nitro. It finished smooth with some sourness and hoppiness. Not a lot going on with this beer, but a good everyday drinker.
A little out of order, next up was Homework #5 Hoppy Belgian Ale (5.2% abv). This one poured rich golden-yellow as well, but with only a thin layer of white head. Sour smell at the front and somewhat sweet aromas at the back. It tasted malty sweet at first, then smooth into the middle. With light-medium body, it finished hoppy and mild. An adequate beer, but nothing really to hold my interest for very long.
Then I tried the Sea Turtle Saison (abv not available, as they were too quick with the eraser after they ran out) made with green tea and mint: It poured a pale opaque golden color, with loose white head that did not stick around long. It smelled sour and tart, with some fruit aromas coming around the end. It tasted sour and effervescent up front, with a touch of hoppiness. The middle was light and smooth, finishing equally as light and smooth. There was not nearly the amount of dynamic, if delicate, flavor profile I expected from this one. Sure, I could blame it on the two prior tasters, but I thought this one was a little lacking. Points for effort, however.
Lastly, I tried the one I was most afraid would taste like fruit juice, but had to try because it was from a cask: Tart Wahoo with hibiscus and lime (7% abv): It poured the color of cranberry juice, with lots of fizzy bright white head. Tart berry aromas dominated the smell, as expected. It tasted super tart from the start. With virtually no carbonation, despite the copious fizz on the pour, it was light. There was no real discernible taste through the middle of the drink, but finished a little sweet and tart. This was probably not one I would get again and, from the full glasses of folks around me who had already been there a while, I was not alone in this assessment.
Ok, straight off the top, I have to make a correction: I jumped the gun and posted some of the pictures under Day 1 that were actually part of the Day 2 festivities. So, here we go…
Day 2 started normally enough. I went for my morning run, came home and read the news with breakfast. Then, after some other mundane stuff, I headed over to good ol’ KnB to see what they were up to for the occasion. They were celebrating by featuring brews from Green Flash Brewing. I hadn’t had anything from Green Flash in a while, so I was excited to see what was on tap.
There was certainly no shortage of choices. I decided on the Hop Head Red. This double red IPA brings the hops, certainly, but didn’t take my head off with the bitter burn that normally comes with such a big beer. It poured a deep orange-red color, with creamy white head that really stuck to the glass. There were lots of hops on the smell with a little fruit, though mostly floral aromas came through. At first, it tasted like I was drinking liquified hops, as the bitterness about knocked my palate clean out of my head. In fact, it reminded me a little of Ballast Point’s Tongue Buckler. There was little in the taste of the floweriness that came through on the aroma. It was bitter straight through to the finish. Not a terrible beer, if only for the creaminess of the head, but definitely one I would drink only sparingly.
The second one I tried while at KnB was pretty much the Pièce de résistance of big (huge, really) bourbon barrel aged beers, as far as I am concerned. If you like bourbon, which I do, you will like this beer. At 16.5%, I opted to split this one with a friend and it still left me wanting nothing. Well, maybe a little more, but you know what they say about discretion being the better part of valor and all.
This poured black with dark brown head that dissipated quickly and left the glass clean. The aroma was all bourbon off the top, with some spice notes toward the end. I also got some rich chocolatiness, as well. Moving on to the taste, I knew what to expect: bourbon was all up front, before moving to the chocolate flavors and a little spice on the finish . This was likely from the bourbon, not that I minded.
Good and done with our libations at KnB, we headed inside to see what they had in their fridges. It took me all of a minute to spot the two (yes, I only got two) I wanted: Ninkasi Believer and Ballast Point Homework Series Batch No. 4 Pumpkin Ale. These are easily my two most favorite beers I have ever had (and I am making a note here) EVER!
The red comes from my favorite brewery, so you know it is good. It poured a dark red, with foamy head that sticks around a little while, though not on the sides of the glass. The smell is of roasted malts, with just a touch of hoppy bittersweet aromas. The taste is much the same, with a nice refreshing quality that may have been helped by the slight hoppiness to lighten things up a bit. All in all, a really good beer.
Then– oh then– I came to the Ballast Point Pumpkin Ale. This is far and away the best pumpkin ale I have had to date. None of my expectations came close before trying this one. It poured dark red-brown with lots of carbonation and quickly dissipating white head. It did not smell too sweet and had a little spice and some bitterness that gave me hope beyond hope that this pumpkin ale was not like any other. The taste confirmed that it was not. The first thing I tasted was a slightly sweet spiciness with some vegetable-like bitterness to follow and heavy carbonation to break it up. The carbonation dissipates quickly to allow the light sweetness to come back through on the finish with a hint of warm malts and some lingering bitterness. In case it was not obvious, I really enjoyed this beer. So much so, I am bringing the very two bottles you see together above to Thanksgiving Day dinner in a couple of weeks. A perfect compliment to a turkey dinner, methinks.
That wraps up SDBW2014 Day 2. Check back tomorrow for Day 3 goings on!
No, you are not seeing double. Ballast Point Brewing Company has opened a third brewery in San Diego! This is great news for me, as I work just up the road a piece from this particular location. It is in the middle of an expansive and otherwise unremarkable industrial office complex. At least it is labeled well (and huge!).
Walking in, I immediately noticed the fondness for wood, rope and glass. It invokes, as I suspect was intended, the feeling of being on a sailing ship.
The lines of sight allow a wide open view of the entire tasting room and (future) restaurant. The bar takes up a considerable amount of the room, which is good, as they have a number of great beers on tap to try.
Of course, this is just part of the beer list they have, but it gives you an idea of what is on offer (as well as the beers I sampled while there…but more on that later.) They also have tours of their brewing facilities available every 15 minutes or so. This was exciting for me, as I am kind of a nerd for that kind of stuff. On the tour, we learned that they can make 150 barrels of beer per brewing run. In addition, they also have capacity for 300 bottles and 300 cans. That’s a ton of beer! This is great news, as they have some great stuff.
Now, for the beer sampling! I couldn’t decide on any beer(s) I wanted a full 16 ounces of, so I got a flight of three different ones. First was the Three Sheets Barley Wine, Bourbon & Rum Barrel Aged. At 10% abv, I knew it was going to be a big one. It poured dark and cloudy (stormy, even?). It was a slightly reddish color with persistent brown head. It smelled slightly sour, very malty and thick (if a texture can be a smell.) For a 10% beer, it did not taste very boozy. Instead, I tasted sweetness up front, with a stickiness that would not go away. That sugary profile was dominant and carried right on through the finish. Next, I tried two variations of their flagship stout, Victory at Sea. The first was one with Mole. It poured very dark with the consistency of motor oil and dark, quickly dissipating head on top. I was actually surprised at how quickly the head went away, as stouts tend to pride themselves on their staying power. The very first aroma coming from the glass was very prominent chocolate flavors that were slightly bitter and very rich in coffee and vanilla. Though I didn’t get any spice on the smell, it was definitely apparent on the taste. It hit right up front and persisted throughout. I was surprised again by the small amount of mole/chocolate flavor that only came through in the middle and quickly faded to the same spiciness that started it all. Despite the lack of a very dynamic profile, I enjoyed this one for its uniqueness.
I finished up with Victory at Sea, Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged, another big stout. This one also poured black with quick brown head. It smelled very boozy, despite having the same alcohol content as the previous two I had tried. After the strong alcohol aroma, I got some rich chocolatiness. The taste was very rich, mild and boozy. Heavy whiskey flavors dominated up front, with some chocolatey bitterness to follow, followed by some spice from the rye. Not too much sweetness, despite the rich taste, but it finished a little sticky and still very boozy. I like whiskey and I think they went a little heavy on the whiskey flavors in this one.
Overall a very nice brewery from a brewer of some of the best beers in San Diego.
My personal celebration of Oktoberfest 2014 continues, this time with a beauty from Ballast Point.
Dead Ringer is their Oktoberfest offering (duh) and it’s a good one. It poured a dark red-brown, which surprised me a bit, as I usually think of these beers as a bit lighter. It had light fizzy head that dissipated quickly. It smelled very caramelly, with a light fruity sweetness and a little spicy undertone. I don’t mean that it smelled spicy, as if it were made with chili peppers, but more in the way a cider might be described as “spiced.”
The taste was heavy on the caramel up front and mild, with lots of malty flavor that didn’t overpower the other tastes that followed. The carbonation was enough to break that up a bit, even though the maltiness came back right after the tingle of the bubbles left my tongue. Then came the spice notes with a nice fizzy finish in the back of my throat.
I enjoyed this beer, as it was a great example of the many different takes on a beer style I thought I knew so well. While I expected the maltiness, the light-to-medium sweetness and carbonation were a bit of a surprise, but did not take away from the experience of this beer.
Overall, I would rate this beer:
In my quest to visit every brewery in the San Diego county area (not really, but I do enjoy it), I had the opportunity to go to Ballast Point Brewing Company in Little Italy. This is a very nice section of town where I perpetually feel underdressed, but never outclassed. There are some good eateries and, in this case, a brewery. It’s kind of tucked away at the end of the main drag down there, but definitely worth the “search.” Walking in, I was immediately carded by a tall tatted hipster with dreadlocks, which I chalked up to their having to watch for under aged youths trying to sneak in there after a night downtown. Inside, I was met by basically a warehouse with a bar at the front and tons of tables.
As you can see from the pictures above, there is quite a bit of space in there and more than enough people to fill it. Having the bar right in front of the door is not the best layout in the world, as the backup at the bar tends to block the entrance to the place a bit. I get it from a marketing perspective, though: people see a crowd at the bar, line out the door, they think, “This is a happenin’ place.” Now, I don’t know who says “happenin'”, but you get the idea.
The bar wraps around to the right, where they have a small-ish food counter, offering up choices of bar food like chicken strips, wings, chips & salsa, and the like. Around the bend to the left and behind the bar by the bathrooms are their display cases, in which they have for sale things like t-shirts and glasses. Not über convenient, or good for sales (I would think), but still nice to have a piece of the brewery to take home, if you should so choose.
Now, onto the beer! I ordered 3 tasters: the Sea Monster Imperial Stout, Piper Down Scottish Ale, and the Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale. The imperial stout was as you would expect. It poured a dark brown, with limited off white head. It was only limited because it was just a taster and didn’t have the depth in the glass to develop more. I caught noticeable coffee notes coming from the glass, with some heavy malty tones. The taste was much the same. I tasted bitter chocolate, coffee, and malt with a hefty alcohol kick at 10% abv. I then moved to the Scottish ale. This one poured a very bright red-orange color, with bright white head that was almost completely dissipated. I expected a sour smell, similar to a Belgian ale, but what I got was more on the sweet and malty side. The taste was heavy on the malts and the carbonation was fairly light. The aftertaste was one of bitter hoppiness. Overall, a very mild choice. Third on the list was the red ale. This one poured similar to the Scottish ale, but a little darker with a more quickly-dissipating head. The minute I put my nose over the rim of the glass, I was almost knocked back by the hops shooting out of the glass. This gave me pause before tasting it. When I did, I was immediately hit by the huge floral hop flavor. This didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would and I was rewarded for going back for more after the maltiness aftertaste settled on my tongue and throat to cool the hoppy bite.
I was going to stop there, but then I saw what turned out to be the crown jewel of my visit to Ballast Point; one for which I waited over 10 minutes back in line at the bar. The Sextant Oatmeal Stout is hands down the best stout I have ever had. Naturally, they serve this from a nitro tap, which according to their website, causes carbonation with tiny bubbles and a richness unlike any other. This makes for a velvety smooth and surprisingly light drink. It is a super dark beer, with just a hint of red tint when held up to the light. The head is like that of a root beer float. What fragrance was able to make its way to my nose was full of mild chocolatey flavors. The taste– oh, the taste. It was like straight cream at first, with a cool milky sensation on my tongue. Rich chocolate followed this, with coffee and just the slightest bit of hoppy bitterness. A very light beer, I would gladly enjoy this beer anytime.