Tuesday, July 7, 2015

This is what a tasting room should be like. Ballast Point

Heading down to San Diego many people asked if I was going to visit Stone. While that is on my list it was not destined for this trip. My brother in-law wanted to take me over to Ballast Point and I certainly wasn't going to say no to that. There isn't a huge variety of Ballast Point beers available in Portland so I wasn't sure what to expect. It didn't take long before I was sold on the BP tasting room. This is what tasting rooms should be like.

I like these 4 oz pours
It was open and airy inside, plenty of outdoor seating and good views to the brewing area. The beer menu was extensive with beers grouped in rough styles and labeled as Main, Specialty and R&D beers. The pricing was good with $2 4 oz tasters or 3 tasters for $5. I picked out a group of six beers spanning the styles and leaning more on the specialty and R&D. Did I mention the generous "4 oz" pours?

Tasters in back going from right to left

  • Baja Blonde - 4.5%: Aroma of citrus and pine. Light malty-body and dry finish
  • Tongue Buckler Imperial Red - 10%: For the true hop-lover; IBUs top 100
  • El Dorado Double IPA - 10%: A huge hoppy brew that's amazingly drinkable and balanced
  • Ve-Lure - Golden oatmeal Stout-NITRO - 9.4%: An oatmeal stout w/ notes of chocolate and earthy notes of beets. And coco.
  • The Commodore American Stout - 6.5%: Black in color with roasted flavor and notable hop bitterness.
  • Indra Kunindra Export Stout - 7%: A burst of curry, cumin, cayenne, coconut and Kaffir lime leaf.
  • Brother Levonian - 5.5%: Belgian Style Saison with hints of orange and honey.

Our server lined up my samples in drinking order. I hadn't thought of putting the two hoppy 10% beers near the beginning, but he had a point about getting them before the darker beers. Baja was a perfect summer BBQ beer and opener. Neither the Tongue Buckler nor the El Dorado was overpoweringly hoppy. In fact, the El Dorado went down way to easy for a 10% DIPA and could get a person in trouble if they weren't paying attention. Drinking the Ve-Lure was like drinking chocolate milk, really dark rich chocolate milk. Putting this on nitro was the right choice. The Commodore was a good, but not spectacular stout, though I may have had a bit of taste fatigue at this point. That didn't stop me from fully tasting the Indra Kunindra. It was like eating from a food cart. It was the Chaat House in a glass. This was liquid curry. Glad I tried it, but very glad it was only a taster. I asked the server for a recommendation on how to end on a better note. The Brother Levonian was his current beer of choice. Belgian saisons aren't something I drink very often, but this did end the day well.

The staff was amazing. Our waiter took time to answer questions, make recommendations and talk about the beer. There seemed to be quite a number of staff on hand and they could definitely handle the crowd. More than once a few of them would start singing along with the music and get many others, staff and customers, on board. A bit of Bon Jovi with lots of backup makes any tasting session better.

This was the big and newer tasting room, with the smaller one not too far away. I hear there are tours at the smaller one, hopefully I can go there next time.

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