Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Craft Beer Review: Ballast Point’s Watermelon Dorado Double IPA

Yes folks, you read the title correctly. A Watermelon Dorado Double IPA!!!

I’m in America at the moment and it seems only fitting to review an American offering. When I was here last year I had a couple of different craft beers, and they were all pretty good. The one that stood out though was Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. Truly delicious. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Ballast Point for sale in New Zealand not long after coming home. It’s pretty expensive in New Zealand due to shipping and so forth, but they’ve some really interesting beers. Their Sculpin IPA is fantastic, as is their Habanero Sculpin which adds spicy habanero peppers to the mix. One of the more crazy, but superbly done, beers I’ve ever had is their Indra Kunindra Stout. Get this, a madras curry stout with cumin, cayenne, coconut and kaffir lime leaf. Probably something you’d only ever need to have once in your life, but you need to have one. Just add white bread or white rice for a delicious dinner. And they have plenty of beers that I haven’t tried yet, Pineapple Sculpin, Mango Sculpin, Grapefruit Sculpin, an Imperial Stout with Coffee and Peppermint. It’s all happening.

You should check out their website for a couple of reasons. Firstly to see the incredible range of beers they have, but also to see the branding. I’m a sucker for good branding and love the nautical themes they’ve branded all of their beers around.  

Ballast Point Brewing started as a home brew store in 1992. Originally a couple of college kids, Jack White and Peter A’Hearn, tried their hand at home brewing. They struggled to get their hands on the variety of malts and hops and gear they needed to really experiment as brewers though. So, in light of this they opened a home brew store and kind of set themselves up as the home brewers hangout of San Diego. San Diego’s craft brew scene is apparently pretty impressive now and it seems in large part because of this store set up by these college kids. A’Hearn studied for a Master Brewers Certificate at the University of CA and then they started brewing as Ballast Point Brewery in 1996 from the back of the home brew store. Long story short, it went from strength to strength. Ballast Point went from being the first micro-distillery in San Diego this side of the prohibition to being America’s 17th largest brewery. In 2015 they sold Ballast Point to Constellation Brands for $1 billion USD.

Enough of that though. I’ve a Watermelon Dorado Double IPA to open. Being a double IPA or an imperial IPA (same thing) this beer should be loaded with hoppy bitterness. It’s rated as 90 IBUs. That’s International Bittering Units if you can remember back to my first review. Tuatara’s Double Trouble, a double IPA, is 167. Totally of the charts bitter. Tuatara’s Indian Pale Ale is a 40. So this will obviously be a pretty hoppy beer. In theory there should be some malty sweetness coming through as well but we’ll have to wait and see. I’ve no idea what the watermelon effect will be.

Price: $7.99 355mls (NZD)

Alcohol content: 10%

Colour: Lovely golden colour. Slightly pale and slightly pinky. Not much head. Plenty of bubbles.
Aroma: Floral notes from the hops and slightly sweet. I’m trying to smell watermelon but more getting grass clippings. It is 90 IBUs after all!

Palate: Yum. Yum. Yum. It is very bitter and this hits you straight away. There is a sweetness to it as well though. Brown sugar rather than tropical fruit, but very subtle.

Finish: The finish is where the watermelon comes through. And it’s done really well. The bitterness sticks to the roof of your mouth while the watermelon flavours swirl around your tongue and bubble up your nose. The watermelon complements the bitterness so well. It’s a big beer. 10%. Loaded with hops. Plenty of bite. But at the same time, it’s like it is also loaded with summer memories when with beautiful watermelon notes.  

On the Chart: On the chart this is way down the hoppy side of things. Not quite as hoppy as Tuatara’s Double Trouble but they’re neighbours. There is more complexity with this beer though. The Dorado has hints of malt tucked into it, but also the watermelon is a really cool addition. Way to the left then and up a few notches in complexity.

Conclusion: Over all this is delightful. You should try one. Very hoppy, but there is more going on than just bitterness in this beer. In Tasting Beer, Randy Mosher points out the reality is that anything with taste ends up fatiguing the palate, and I think he’s bang on the money. This is one of the things I love about craft beer. It’s complex, there are all sorts of flavours heading in all sorts of directions all at once. Delightful, but it also means that one or two beers is perfect. The taste helps with moderation. Less is more. I think this is one of those beers. It’s a double IPA. One is enough. I look forward to having another one day, but not today. 

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