Ballast Point Visit in San Diego

I recently visited the beer Mecca of San Diego for a legal conference. That is sort of like…hmmm…going someplace where there is a lot of really good beer and wasting key beer tasting time by talking about something that’s not beer. Anyway, since time was limited, I wanted to hit a few spots I’d been wanting to get to, but so far had not made it to on a prior visit. Ballast Point was one. It had not been high on my radar I was in town because while the Sculpin was no doubt very good, I felt I had tried one or two others and not been impressed. However, I was wrong. Ballast Point has multiple locations these days. The original is in the Home Brew Mart, near the campus of the University of San Diego. Another one well worth a visit is in Little Italy. However, I digress. For my first round of three samplers, I had the Black Marlin Porter with Coffee from the cask, the Reef Rye Brown, and the Three Sheets Barley Wine. The Black Marlin Porter is already very good, but with coffee from the cask, it was awesome. It pours a dark, dark brown, almost black. It had roast, nutty flavor to it with very distinct coffee notes. I would give this one five out of five proper pints. However, I think it was only available at the brewery. Unfortunately, the Reef Rye Brown was a little non-distinct. It could be that it just couldn’t follow the Black Marlin, but it was a bit bland. It was malty, with a bready note to it. I couldn’t really distinguish the rye. I give it two out of five proper pints. The Three Sheets Barley Wine, however, finished the trio nicely. It was a tad sweet without being syrupy. There were definite notes of molasses, raisins, and caramel with a hint of bourbon and a slight boozy taste. However, it was very smooth drinking and you could easily have one too many of those. I give that one four out of five proper pints. I decided at that point I didn’t want to leave just yet, so I had another round of three tasters. I clearly should have saved the Barley Wine for last, but hadn’t really planned ahead. Anyway, for the second round of three tasters, I went for the Calico Amber, The Big Eye IPA and the Fathom IPL. The Calico was my least favorite of the three. It poured a nice amber hue, and head a malty aroma to it. It tasted of malt, a little caramel and biscuit with just a slight bit of hop bitterness. It was balanced, but a little unremarkable to me. I give it three out of a five proper pints. The Big Eye IPA is a hoppy IPA. It is a little different from the Sculpin. I would say the Sculpin is a little more balanced, but this one has more of the hop bite to it. It is still very good. It brings flavors of pineapple, mango and some earthy hops. It was very refreshing, I would say. I give it four out of five proper pints. Last, but not least, I had the Fathom IPL. This was a clean and refreshing lager with a hint of alcohol to it. It had the light, bready flavor characteristic of lagers with a little bit of sweetness. There was a maybe hint of mango as well. At 6.8%, this one could sneak up on you. It drinks quickly like lemonade on a summer day. You would not know it was a little high in the ABV department. Overall, a nice beer, though I’m not a big lager guy. I might consider having this one while grilling in the backyard though. I give it three out of five proper pints.

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