I’m still running through beers that have been sent to me for my comment. Let’s forge ahead.
Ballast Point Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 in San Diego. They built up a national distribution footprint with their flagship Sculpin IPA. I encountered it in the Chicago market in 2013. It was a kind of California IPA that explored hop loads beyond the usual West Coast hops, adding fruity impressions.
Ballast Point was swept up in the wave of craft brewer buyouts in the mid-teens, going to Constellation Brands for an eye-popping one billion dollars. The purchase at first brought expansion, with a branch brewery on the East Coast and a brewpub in Chicago’s West Loop. The brewery failed to find the needed “synergy,” though. In December of 2019, it was sold to new investors, who had also backed Kings and Convicts Brewing in north suburban Highwood. This led to a reconsideration of their business, focusing on the Southern California market and closing the Chicago site (of course the pandemic had something to do with it). Earlier this year, they started to expand again, now packaged in cans.
The Sculpin kicks up a big head when poured from the can into a tulip. A slightly tan head sits on a golden beer body with a bit of haze. Smell is light tropical fruits from hops. But in the taste, the tropical fruit is more prominent, followed right behind by the usual pine and resin of a West Coast IPA. As I recall, this was one of my first IPAs to bring in “tropical fruit” hops.
Ballast Point Longfin Lager
Now’s the time to pop the other can that ballast Point has forwarded to me. It’s listed as a Helles lager, with Pilsener style malts. A beach beer at 4.5% abv.
It pours a bright gold color, slight haze at the center, with a fizzy, rapidly dwindling head. Since, in my mind, most American lagers are based on the Helles/Dortmunder style, this one kind of confirms it by having the familiar “beer smell” I grew up with.
Tastewise, I’m getting a little more malt sweetness, while German versions of the style are a bit drier and hoppier. A bit of hop pepper is felt towards the back of the palate. The extra malt gives it a bit more of a soda character, and it’s easy to drink quickly if I’m not careful. Yes, goes down in a hurry, with no regrets.