Ballast Point: Calico Amber Ale (USA: Amber Ale: 5% ABV)
Visual: Bronzed amber, clear and with light carbonation. Large thick sud caramel touched head.
Nose: Pine cones. Toffee. Light wheat flakes. Light bitterness and hops. Custard. Pineapple. Dry fudge. Popcorn.
Body: Good bitterness. Tart pineapple. Pink grapefruit. Vanilla toffee. Resin. Solid malt backbone.
Finish: Bitter hops that grows and grows. Malt loaf. Light cherries. Popcorn feel. Granite like when very bitter.
Conclusion: Quite the solid little contender here. The aroma promised something easy going, fruity and with light bitterness. The liar.
Good solid bitter kick in the body, toffee and malt backbone and a bit of citrus hops with freshness to them. For an American amber ale none of these are too surprising but the bitter force in the finish is much more than the nose promises. The juicy malt to hop bitter kick is, generally balanced well and when it’s on the two works well against each other.
Now you were promised something subtle by the nose, and subtle doesn’t really play here. Also occasionally the malt of the body seems to thin out, and doesn’t bring the weight you need against the hops. When this happens it loses that balance and you don’t really get the flavour to go with the bitterness. However, for the most part it does the job well.
The juicy malt brings a nice cherry flavour, and by the end the bitterness lays down a granite like roughness that pushes past the popcorn like dryness that expresses the bitterness early on. Everything really is tied up in that hop to malt play. Rising waves of toffee and cherry crashing down into citrus and hop debris. When it works it is like surfing the waves of flavour. When it doesn’t it rides out rough and yet thin.
A beer that hits more than it misses. Too unreliable to be great but a rough yet enjoyable package.
Background: Drunk while listening to a best of The UFO album. Never heard them before and since I’m seeing them live shortly with a few mates I thought I’d best give them a listen. Decided that a nice amber ale would go well with some tuneage and Ballast Point tend to play nice with hops so broke this open.