Tag Archive: Ballast Point


Brewdog Vs Ballast Point Ship Wreck

Brewdog Vs Ballast Point: Ship Wreck (Scotland: American Strong Ale: 13.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark gold with a moderate off white head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Brie. Smoke and stewed beef. Massive. Blue cheese. Thick. Peat. Lightly bready.

Body: Sweet. Red and white grapes. Thick. Light medicinal note – drying iodine. Apricot. Smoke. Fruit syrup. Seaweed wraps. Slight soft cheese. Mead. Custard. Gingerbread. Light strawberry.

Finish: Dried apricot. Fruit syrup. Dried beef slices. Light salt. Seaweed wraps. Pear drops. Medicinal. Dried fruit sugars. Light charred oak.

Conclusion: This definitely feels like it is calling to the older, early, beer recipes – I have no idea if that is the intent or not, but it is definitely called to mind on drinking. It is very big and sweet and with the Islay influence it ends up tasting like smoked mead. If there is such a thing. Smoked honey? Sounds possible. May exist for all I know.

Anyway, let’s back up a bit – there is a huge aroma on this thing. I could appreciate it even as I struggled to turn the fizzing fountain bottle into a glass to catch it’s cascading contents. When I could take a moment, after cleaning up, to appreciate it I found it evident at great distance from the glass and full bodied. It brings a mass of soft and blue cheese notes mixed with peat and smoke. This is both 1) awesome and 2) Slightly disappointing when you find that the blue cheese notes are mostly absent from the body.

The body instead mixed new wave and traditional styles with ease. There is mead stylings and tons of grapes for a fruity sweet as hell mix of traditional alcohol styles that meet the drying, medicinal, smoke and seaweed character from the Islay barrel ageing of the new wave style. It turns the nigh sickly sweet body into a surprisingly drying overall beer. As time goes on more and more comes out – strawberry, hints of the cheese, gingerbread. I am not sure if they are so much there, as it is my body trying to deal with the already existing alcohol and mix of big sugary flavours. Any which way it hits big with a complex and very enjoyable range.

Overall, a very big beer, very Islay dry and medicinal, yet very sweet and fruit filled, syrupy set of notes. It is extremely good. Every moment something new comes out to be experienced. Basically, this is a smoke, Islay aged, mead beer with grape influence. There is little else like this and it is very worth grabbing.

Background: Or, Brewdog Vs Blank as the label puts it. Since doing this collaboration Ballast Point was bought up by a macro brewer so Brewdog blanked their name out. A tad petty, but oh well. Anyway this ale is made with *deep breath* Sal De Gusano, Smoked agave syrup and smoked malts, and aged it a mix of Islay and Speyside whisky barrels. I may have had to google a few of those words to find out what they were. Normally Brewdog beers are not volatile on open so this caught me out as it frothed up rapidly, causing me to lose a small amount of the bottle as I tried to get it into the glass. Be warned. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was bought direct from the Brewdog shop and drunk chilled on a very warm night.

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Ballast Point: Yellowtail Pale Ale (USA: Kolsch: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain golden, a slight haze at the base of the beer. Lots of small bubbles for carbonation. Moderate off white bubbled head.

Nose: Apricot. Sour Dough. Slightly cloying. Biter and grit.  Lemon sherbet. Floral.

Body: Lemon sherbet. Bitter hops. Light lime. Dried fruit. Sultanas. Dried apricot and cream. Slight fizzy feel. Pineapple.

Finish: Apricot. Solid bitterness. Light liquorice. Dry. Sultanas. Sour dough. Eccles cakes. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: A quick look up online indicates that this is, despite its name, a Kolsch.  Which explains a lot. Now just give me a minute to recheck my expectations and return to the beer.

It does explain the lager like colour and the fact that there is the sour dough elements coming in with the clinging bitterness. Refreshing yet almost cloying with the contrasting elements.

Initially the flavour keeps to dried apricot and hops, with a very light hint of sultana dark fruit underneath.  Sweet, but with gritty elements from aroma throughout.  Almost like fruit plants bursting up through concrete. While initially simple as time goes on you realise there is a good bit of play there, solid flavour and bracing bitterness. Mostly light fruit including a nice pineapple chunk coming out after the half way point, but with some darker fruits hiding in the depths. I’m not a big fan of the dry liquorice in the finish but apart from that it does decent with a growing juiciness that really helps it out on the refreshing stakes.

It is in fact surprisingly juicy for a Kolsch, which manages to not compromise the bitterness despite creditable amount of fruit flavours. It isn’t exceptional, but solid and drinkable.  Very much a warm day wake up call. Liquid refreshment for the tongue and hop hit to keep the brain going.

Not a must drink beer, but it brings a lot to the style with a good amount of flavour behind the bitterness.

Background: Well I presume this is the Yellowtail pale Ale. The bottle image is the same but just says “Pale Ale”. I’ve done a bit of googling and I’m fairly confident it is the same beer. If anyone knows otherwise please give me a heads up. Kolsch is an odd style, top fermented like and ale, then lagered.   The last of the Ballast Point beers I have in the cupboard for the moment. Drunk while listening to “The Offspring”- Smash album in a bit of a retro moment.  While they are pretty pop punk they were the band that got me into the punk scene so I’ve still got a bit of a soft spot for them.

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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.

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Ballast Point: Wahoo Wheat (USA: Belgium Style Witbier: 4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Large white head.

Nose: Slightly musty. Dried fruit mixture. Orange peel. Light lemon curd. Coriander.

Body: Lemon. Wheat. Vanilla back. Slightly fizzy. Toffee. Carrot and coriander. Light banana. Nice bitterness. Peach.

Finish: Wheat. Lemon meringue. Raw carrot. Coriander.

Conclusion: America has a wealth of good Belgium style beers, from Lost Abbey to Ommegang. Alas it seems to struggle making good wit beers. This could just be my experiences but during the “Road Trip Of Awesome” I had several Belgium wit beers and they ranged from ok to pretty damn terrible. I have had the occasional good Wit from the USA, but not many. Maybe I need recommendations.

Of course this isn’t a slight on USA, the style is hard to do well and even Belgium sods it up sometimes, heck the best take on the style recently I had was from Denmark.

This take is competent but not much beyond. There is a bit too much fizz and not enough grip for the flavours. A pity as if you let the beer roam in your mouth it seems to have the right elements, from light coriander, spice, lemon curd through to vanilla sweetness backing it up.  What it lacks is the capability to bring those flavours to the forefront to be enjoyed.

It does manage to keep quiet traditional in its interpretation, slightly dry and tart over the wheat styled base. It therefore avoids the over sweet interpretation that can be a bane to the style.  There is sweetness but used as background noise and lingering finish. if the other elements were bigger it would provide an appropriate backdrop. As is the wheat dominates the flavour too much and it relies on the slightly heavier than normal bitterness as a crutch.

It is a far better beer than some of the watery atrocities or over sweet version I had encountered (but not reviewed0 during the road trip, and uses good calls to the Belgium interpretations, unfortunately for all its attempts at matching their style it doesn’t pull it off.
A nice try but lackluster beer.

Background: So far my experiences with Ballast Point have been pretty spot on so I grabbed a few more of their beers to try recently. It had nothing to do with my urge to rub it in that these are easier to find in the UK than in some states of America. Honest.  I’ve been on quite a stout run recently so have been deliberately grabbing some lighter coloured beers to give me a bit of a break. Drunk while listening to Radiohead: Ok Computer because it’s been bloody ages since I last listened to it.

Brewdog: Ballast Point: San Diego Scotch Ale (Scotland: Scotch Ale:11.9% ABV)

Visual: Dark red block with a decent sized but thin textured brown head.

Nose: Milky chocolate gateaux and raisins. Sort of dusty chocolate. Thick red wine. Dry oak. Passion fruit. Brandy.

Body: Smooth. Biscuits and treacle. Fruitcake Madeira. Vanilla fudge. Passion fruit and custard float over the other elements. Apricot. Sweet strawberry and a slight nuttiness.

Finish: Biscuit. Raisins and figs. Bitter chocolate. Madeira again. Dried apricot. Heather.

Conclusion:  This is a scotch ale? Huh, I keep getting surprised these days by a style I used to consider boring. There is a whole wealth of fruitiness to this, a lot of which are fruit that I wouldn’t tend to connect with the style. The raisins and dark fruit are, of course, no brainers, but the heavy apricot mid body? The strawberry sweetness early on in a sip? Passion fruit? These things are not what I would expect, and I would guess is a sign of some heavy duty and cleverly done hop action which really works well over the sweet thick base.

That aforementioned body is treacle thick and sweet, with the whisky ageing present but not showing heavily, more an environment that the beer works in.  There is some fudge sweetness which seems to be from the time in the cask, and there are many spirit like elements, but as a whole the beer seems strong enough to actually keep the whisky in the background for the most part.  Let’s face it, with over 10% abv, even without whisky cask ageing, you would be surprised if there weren’t some spirit like elements in this thing.  The whisky does get stronger over time, building up very slowly throughout the beer.

A very rich, fruity, wine influenced beer, with plenty of extra flavours from the fruity hops. Silken in texture, while heavy in flavour and with that tingling feel of potency that never gets burning but always keeps you aware of what you are drinking.

Frankly a very good beer, and one that feels refined as you swirl it around the glass like an oversized dark brandy. A strange balance between spirit feeling mixed with a huge chunk of fruit to create a delicious alchemy.

If I had to bring flaws, it would be that even at 330 ml it feels like a sharing beer, taken alone it can become slightly overly spirity by the end, losing some of its beer character.  However it is a beer that is much more than the sum of its parts, the elements mix together to create shimmering illusions of so many more spirit influences than are actually within. Very powerfully, but very nice.

Background: A collaboration beer from Brewdog and Ballast point. This one has been made with Ballast Point rum soaked raisins and then aged in a whisky casks.  Brewdog seem to seriously love their whisky cask ageing.  As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.  I’m not entirely sold on the packaging for the bottle, while they add a bit of pizzazz to the event of drinking the beer I tend to feel they are a bit wasteful, which should be avoided.  I broke this beer out to celebrate the fact I’d just completed Dust Force, a brutally hard platform game (and for those wondering by completing I mean a S/S run of Giga Difficult, I don’t count the free DLC extra levels they have released since as I like to keep my sanity at least slightly intact).

Ballast Point: Sculpin IPA (USA: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Massive head on a hazy light apricot flesh body. Very lightly carbonated.  The head is solid for an exceptionally long time, and for a while it seems it will never die. When it finally does it leaves many lace traces around the glass in an off lemon and egg white colour.

Nose:  Light lemon sherbet, bitter hops and some dry wheat. Light apricot. Slight bread crusts. Peach skins.

Body:  Huge bitter front. Peach melba. The body seems very crisp initially.  Light plain yogurt. Nettles. Hop oils and lemon juice. The head has a great silk like texture as it touches the lips.

Finish: Dry bitter hoppiness. Light lemon curd and whipped cream. Dry bread. Peach. The bitterness grows slowly.

Conclusion: The very first thought that came to mind for the is write up occurred nearly immediately after pouring “Damn, that head looks so smooth you could think it was one of those evil smooth/cream flow beers. Thankfully, unlike said cream flow beers this is not utter shit.

The head sticks around, and before I move on to the rest of the beer I would like one final comment on it. Specifically its texture.  Since the head is so long lasting you sip roughly half the beer through it and it results in a sensation not quite unlike what I would imagine sipping hops through silk would be like. A very unique and expressive sensation.

Anyway enough talking about the head, if only to stop the nigh inevitable innuendo that will end up in the comments section. The beer itself is the thing!

Well like a lot of the USA IPAs it comes in heavy on the bitterness over a quite dry and crisp body. Subtle peach and lemon flavours bubble up, though without the force to completely contrast.  The lighter peach and lemon flavours feel like it would need a more IIPA weighting to them to properly fight the hops.  Oddly a lot less sweet that I would expect.

It does work though, and the crisp body gets creamier over time, again in a flavoursome way not a cloying cream flow way.  Despite the build up though the back never does properly scrap with the hops.  It does very well for, if somewhat more subtle than expected.

A very crisp creamy and just slightly sweet IPA. Near the end the crispness is hurt slightly by the growing creaminess. It adds to the roundness of the beer but at the cost of the drinkability it has been working on.

Overall a very full force IPA with well made flavour to it despite my criticisms, not a favourite but enjoyable.

Background: Drunk to celebrate finally 100% completing the computer game “Super Meat Boy” a game of quite evil difficulty and fun.  IPA falls pretty heavily into my favourite beer style, though I seem to tend more towards the NZ interpretation of the style currently.  This beer was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section of their store.  I’ve been hearing rumblings about Ballast Point for a while but never tried them before. On investigating this is currently rate beers third highest rated IPA.

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