On Thursday, 5/31/12 I headed over to Rattle n Hum, a craft beer in New York City that I go to on a regular basis. On Tuesdays the bar hosts brewery feature events and on this particular week, Ballast Point Brewing Company’s beers were being featured on tap (the bar has 40 taps, about 14 were Ballast Point beers). In order to try a bunch that I hadn’t tried I started the night with a flight of four beers….
The first beer was Brother Levonian Saison. While this belgian style beer was brewed in the USA, it definitely smelled and tasted like an authentic Belgian saison. Its aroma consisted of a melange of lemon, sweet bready malts, and earthy notes. On the palate this beer first opened up as similar to the aroma and was joined by hints of banana, grassyness, and spicy belgian yeast. At 5.4% ABV this Saison was quite refreshing, balanced, and drinkable. I hope this beer will be bottled and distributed to New York City at some point in the future. Rating: 8/10
Next up was Piper Down scottish ale, which clocks in at 5.2% ABV. Before digging in I took a minute to analyze the beer’s aroma. I was met with notes of milk chocolate, caramel, roasted malts, and graham cracker. All of which are common smells present in scottish ales. However, the enticing aroma did not follow through into the taste. Dominated by sweet graham cracker, brown sugar, and light caramel notes, the taste was not as complex or attractive as a hoped it would be. Rating: 6/10
Beer number 3 was Sextant Coffee Oatmeal Stout (6.8% ABV). As expected the nose consisted of coffee, hazelnuts, roasted malts, and oatmeal. Categorized as a dry stout on RateBeer, the overall taste was mildly sweet and a bit try. Though as I sipped the beer a bit more the flavors of coffee, hazelnuts, and roasted malts were joined by a creamy mouthfeel and moderate roasted malt astringency. In turn the flavors grew on me and I would order a pint when in the mood for a creamy stout. Rating: 7/10
The order that I drank this flight of Ballast Point beers was influenced primarily by its fourth beer, Abandon Ship, a 6.6% ABV smoked beer. Being that some smoked beers can overwhelm the palate, just as many hoppy beers tend to do, I wanted to make sure that I’d be able to clearly taste the three preceding beers. The aroma and taste consisted of sweet smokiness that at times reminded me of actual smoked meat, caramel sweetness, and perfumey woodiness (almost like sandalwood). In the end the smokiness was not overwhelming and the sweetness of the malts made for an enjoyable example of a beer style that for many, takes time to get used to. Rating: 8/10
As I finished my flight I saw that two other bar patrons were enjoying beer flights as well and I contemplated getting another one. Before making my final decision I asked for a taste of Ballast Point’s Even Keel pale ale, a “San Diego session pale ale” clocking in at 3.8% ABV. As a hophead, I immediately knew I needed to experience a full pint of this juicy / citrusy pale ale after tasting the small sample I was given (a couple of ounces). So instead of ordering another flight of beers I ordered a pint of Even Keel and man was it worth it. The juicy / citrusy west coast hop profile was met by moderate bitterness, hints of pine, and balanced by a semi-sweet bready maltiness. I really hope I can try this beer again in the near future. I should note that Even Keel’s flavor profile reminded me of another San Diego pale ale, Green Flash Brewing Co.’s 30th Street Pale Ale. So if you’re a hop head and get to try either beers, you will not be disappointed. Rating: 9/10