The Ballast Point Tap Handle Takeover on Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, at RIBCO was one of my personal favorites. It wasn’t just the atmosphere of a good craft beer bar nor the delectable, rare brews served; it was because of the community of friends and beer lovers of the Quad Cities that came together to rejoice in the evening. Thankfully there were so many familiar faces there; it made it much easier for me to steal sips from peoples’ glasses!
Ballast Point Brewing Company is located in San Diego, California, opened in 1996. It started in the back of Home Brew Mart, a home brewing supply store that is still open today. Ballast Point is also the one and only mictrodistillery in San Diego; they produce their own gin, rum and vodka with a whiskey on the way. Of the many beers I’ve had by this brewery in the past, I have enjoyed them all, their Sculpin IPA is easily one of my favorites of the style.
I also enjoy the seafaring theme of their products; the names of all their beers are after fish. Even the name itself – Ballast Point – comes from a peninsula extending out from Point Loma into the harbor of San Diego. On their website they state its stemmed from two regular guys doing the things they love: fishing and brewing beer.
Their products are available around town on both sides of the river. Keep an eye out though, as they are in the process of updating their packaging to a more simple, clean look which I personally enjoy. They also now offer beers in cans.
That fine Wednesday evening RIBCO had an impressive selection of Ballast Point brews available at the tap handle takeover. Because they were all so big and many different groups seemed interested in trying different things, I did some table hoppin’ and sip stealin’…
At the Big Table the buzz of the evening were the pepper beers – the Sculpin IPA with Habanero Peppers (7%) and the Chipotle Cocoa Black Marlin Porter (6%). I tasted both, side-by-side, and it was interesting to compare how the two different styles of beers manifested themselves alongside two different pepper experiences. The Habenaro Sculpin – on first sip – was dragon-breathing hot! Up in my nose, down my throat, crazy in a way I had never experienced with a beverage. But as the pint went down (so I’m told – I couldn’t do it) it got easier, the hops caught up with the heat and was a well-balanced brew. The Chipotle Porter was a nicer, more tingling heat that spread out over your tongue and was highlighted by the sweeter, cocoa and roasted malty goodness. A beer I would love to have on a full belly before bed.
My first pint was the Black Eye Blended Ale – a Black IPA of sorts with 33.3% of the Black Marlin Porter and 66.6% the Big Eye IPA. I wanted to try this because on the side of a Black Marlin Porter Bomber bottle, the brewery tells you to do this. So one night, some friends of mine and I did. It was better this time – the rich, fullness of their porter at that ratio paired nicely with the hoppy goodness of that IPA.
After some time tasting inside, I headed out to the patio where I stole a little bit of the Old Barmy Ale (10.7%). Every thing I’ve read about this beer two things seem to always be mentioned to I’m sharing them too:
- “Brewed with 2-row malt, galena hops, house yeast, apricots, and caramelized honey”.
- “on old sailing ships barmy was foam on top of fermenting fruit”.
Again, how great is the seafaring theme? An interesting brew for sure, the initial tastes of apricot and hops were refreshing followed by a nice, sweet honey end. Soothing.
It was also outside that I enjoyed a Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter (10%). This was by far my favorite beer of the night. The right kinds of roastiness in all the right ratios, perfect for a summer evening that’s leaning towards the cool side. After getting toasty with that glass, I headed over to the bar.
It’s typically the bar where I plant myself at the RIBCO tastings. I can easily stare at the bottle case for hours, reading, doing research…for the first beer. Then people start to show up and it tends to get more social, more rowdy, it’s a progression you see. I walked into the rowdiness and was it enjoyable.
One of my friends was raving about the Brother Levonian Saison and I immediately stole a sip. Yum. A lovely farmhouse ale at 5.5 % with a sparkling, clean taste, one could easily session this beer. It’s named after Dave Levonian, a home brewer, and friends of the owners and all proceeds from the beer go to Dave’s daughter’s college fund. My friend followed it up with the Dorado Double IPA (9.6%) and I stole a sip of that too. A sweet smelling brew with lovely bitter and pine resin tastes. The brewery adds hops to it 5 different times during the brew process and you can taste and smell it while enjoying.
My final choice of the evening was the Fathom India Pale Lager. A 6.8% – American Double Lager. I’m developing a fondness for these American Lagers and Pilsners that are getting hopped the heck out; the styles really allow a hop presence to dominate in an enjoyable way. As I was loving that, my friend ordered the Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale sitting at a hefty 10%. I had been recommended this beer before, however, because there were so many big beers in tow that evening, I didn’t have a full glass. I regret that now. At 107 IBU’s that bitter blast is amazing because the sickly-sweetness of the malt makes it work oh so well. Though I was guilty of a little beer-jealousy, I was still happy with my lager.
The two mini sad stories of the night are that I didn’t get to try the Reef Rye American Brown Ale. And the Sextant Coffee Oatmeal Stout was not enjoyable unfortunately. As one attendee claimed, “That’s as flat as Jamie Lee Curtis!” Well…he was right.
But the night wasn’t! I deem it a success. I look forward to the next event at RIBCO, where I plan on spending many upcoming Wednesday evenings as its Craft Beer Night there! Half price off that gorgeous case. See you there.