Fruit IPA – American: Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

This week’s beer is the legendary Grapefruit Sculpin, and although you can’t buy it in the UK it’s something I had to include on this blog. I’ve always wanted to try this beer and luckily got my fair share in California. Ballast Point is located in San Diego, they brew the legendary Sculpin IPA and decided one day they’d add Grapefruit to it to complement the already Citrusy flavours of the brew.

Let’s start with Ballast Point‘s description:

Our award-winning IPA, with a citrus twist.
Our Grapefruit Sculpin is the latest take on our signature IPA. Some may say there are few ways to improve Sculpin’s unique flavor, but the tart freshness of grapefruit perfectly complements our IPA’s citrusy hop character. Grapefruit’s a winter fruit, but this easy-drinking ale tastes like summer.

A brief description, but I guess if you’ve heard of Sculpin IPA it needs no introduction and Ballast Point have confidently capitalised on that fact. However, I didn’t know that Grapefruit was a Winter fruit. I guess you learn something new every day! No indication on flavour, which is nice but “Grapefruit” is a big hint anyway!

It was hard to determine and research the recipe for this one, but eventually I managed it. The hops in this brew are Amarillo, Warrior, Magnum, US Hallertau, Columbus, Crystal, Centennial and Simcoe. Quite an impressive Hop bill! It’s Dry-Hopped with Amarillo. The malts are 2-Row, Caramel, Carapils, Cara and Acidulated Malt. The Grapefruit Zest is added during the boil and then during Secondary fermentation to really get those Grapefruit flavours in there!

When you pour this beer, it’s Golden with a Medium White head, it eventually dissipates leaving very sticky dotty lacing and a thin White Head that lasts throughout. On the nose, there’s tonnes of Grapefruit, Orange Rind, Citrus and a little bit of Pine in the background. The Grapefruit really has taken hold of the Aroma on this one! When you taste this one, you’re immediately hit again by lots of Grapefruit notes, Citrus, Blood Orange and a touch of Pine. However, at the back of your Palate that impressive Malt Bill provides a nice Sweet, Caramel like backbone which is very welcoming. This is quite a complex IPA, but also so brash with the Hops and Grapefruit at the same time. It’s like an onslaught on your Palate. For an IPA the body is quite light with medium Carbonation. It finishes Medium-Dry. I can see why Ballast Point brew this one – it’s absolutely perfect for San Diego weather and Summer!

Unfortunately, this is another one you can’t get in the UK but if you can get your hands on it I really recommend. I’ll be back next Friday with something a little more available in the UK!

UPDATE: Bier Deluxe sells Grapefruit Sculpin and ships to the UK! Although I’m not sure of the freshness, click here for the page.

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Southern California Pt. 2

After trying more than my fair share of Beers at Stone the night before, it was time to go to Ballast Point Taproom and Kitchen at India Street, San Diego. Everyone told me that this is the best of the Ballast Point Taprooms, so I chose this to sample some of their beers and get some grub to line the stomach from the day before! The Taproom and Kitchen do fantastic food, we shared some Crispy Duck Nachos (Blue Cheese Sauce, Duck Confit, Pickled Onion, Arugula (Rocket) and Port Reduction) and as I was in San Diego, I went for the Fish Tacos. Both dishes were absolutely delicious, and very reasonable. As we had to drive back to LA (luckily I wasn’t doing the driving) later on in the day, I decided to try as many beers as possible before we had to go.

I started with a Sculpin IPA, the classic Ballast Point brew, which in my opinion is the IPA it’s hyped up to be and then moved on to a flight of Grapefruit Sculpin, Habanero Sculpin and the Black Marlin Porter. The Grapefruit Sculpin is coming up in my reviews next month but is a truly a World Class beer. The Habanero Sculpin was interesting, as I’m a self confessed Chilli Head I had to try it and I absolutely loved it. The nose is full of Citrus Fruit, Orange Peel and some resinous Pine in the background. On the Palate, there’s a nice initial Citrus and Pine from the hops with the Habanero building in the background. The Chilli isn’t for the weak hearted, but is a nice burn that builds as you drink. The Black Marlin was an equally good Porter, with Big Roasty notes on the nose with Raisins, Stone Fruits and a touch of Citrus on the finish. On the palate, a big Roasty Chocolatey note, with Caramel and Brown Sugar. Fantastic Mouthfeel on this one. Next up, I had a Ginger Big Eye IPA and the Sour Wench Berliner Weiss with Apricot and Peach. On the Nose the Sour Wench has a huge Apricot and Peach Aroma, with a little bit of woodiness from the stones of the Fruit and that familiar funky wheat and Lactobacillus Sour odor. This one is very tart to start off with, followed by the Sour Peach. Apricot lingers on the finish. As for the Ginger Big Eye – where do I start? Big Eye IPA is just as legendary as Sculpin. On the nose there was a big Ginger hit, with Grapefruit, Citrus and a little Soapiness. Although this has a huge hit from the Citrus, Grapefruit and Pine from the Hops, the Ginger is very prominent and compliments the Fruitiness from the Hops.

After this, we headed down to Pacific Beach to visit a smaller Brewerys Taproom – Twisted Manzanita. I got a flight here as time was running by and tried the Gillespie Brown (Brown Ale), Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Stout with Ancho and Habanaro Chillis), Rustic Horizon (Red Ale), Prospect Pale (Pale Ale) Iron Mountain (IPA), Enlightenmint (Milk Stout with Peppermint). I started with the Brown Ale, it pours with a Small Head but with great lacing. On the nose some Pine Nuts and Roasted Malts, when you taste it, it’s warm and boozy with Rasins, Piney Hops and a touch of Chocolate. Apart from the Enlightenmint, which I’ll be posting about on Friday, the Hot Chocolate was my favourite. It’s black as night with a tan coloured ring around the glass. On the nose you get big Chocolate and Coffee aromas and the Chilli is hidden very well, very sweet. On the Palate is where the Chilli comes into play, first a nice smooth Chocolate note that carries all the way through, then the Chilli kick, lots of Citrusy and Hot Spicy notes. Finishes smooth and spicy. The Rustic Horizon was a standard, well balanced Red Ale with Big Pine Notes and a nice Caramel Malt Backbone, The Prospect Pale was very well balanced also, with big Citrus aromas and a bready Malt Backbone. I’ll be Posting about the Enlightenmint on Friday, as it was probably my favourite of the entire San Diego trip!

I really liked Twisted Manzanita Taproom’s vibe, the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable and the decor was quite industrial and basic. The music in this place, and Ballast Point were the best of the entire trip. Although it was a short visit, it was time to leave San Diego.

The next day we made the long drive up to the Central Coast to Visit Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks in Buellton. Unfortunately due to the famous California Traffic, we missed our tour which was a shame. Luckily, Firestone Walker have a Taproom and Restaurant attached and we thought we’d take full advantage. By this time we were really hungry, and there was a table free for us straight away. I dived straight in with the Spicy Chicken Drumettes as an appertizer and a small measure of Velvet Merkin – a barrel aged version of their Velvet Merlin stout. Though I’d had it before when they came to visit in London, it really is a great beer and I wanted to try it fresh.  It’s Jet Black, and the Aroma was a little different. Lots of chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted bread. The Palate had big brown Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Cocoa, Coffee, and Fig notes. There’s a distinct woody finish on this one. 

It was time to order the main course, and I went for the Sirloin Coulotte Steak with Shallot Butter, Fried Fingerling Potatoes and Chili-Lemon Broccolini and an Union Jack IPA. I must say again, that the food is truely delicious in this place and I really recommend having some if you visit. As for the Union Jack IPA, it was just as good as I remember. On the nose there was lots of Earthy Pine, Grapefruit, Citrus and a touch of sweet malt. The taste really is what makes this beer, some Pine Sap, Citrus, Grapefruit, Tropical Fruits with a great Malt Backbone riding throughout. What an IPA. I decided to skip dessert and go for an Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale and a Velvet Merlin on Nitro next.

The Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale was interesting, the fact it’s unfiltered really changes the aroma of this. Loads of Oak on the nose with Nutty Malt and a little bit of Vanilla Spice coming through. It tastes a little different too with big hits of Vanilla and Oak as well as the lovely Pale Malt backbone and fresh Bread Dough notes. What a great, simple beer! Next up was the Velvet Merlin on Nitro, I’ll start unusually by commenting on the Mouthfeel. The Nitro really improves this beer! The mouthfeel was like a Guiness, but this has way more flavour and aroma. On the nose there’s Roasty Coffee, Chocolate and a Milky Sweetness. The Palate is a tiny bit tart and dry, but with big hits of Milk Sweetness, Coffee and Chocolate. What a great way to end. After this I popped into the Barrelworks shop and picked up a bottle of the well known Parabola, which I’ll be reviewing in the future after it ages a little while!

Last, but definitely not least, we visited the Libertine Brewpub in Morro Bay which was Excellent. Unfortunately I was driving, but still managed to taste one of their Sours along with two other very good beers. I started with the Libertine Framboise, a beer I’d wanted to try for a long time. The Sours Libertine make are famous, if not notorious with people that have tried them! On the Nose a lot of Belgian funk and Sour Strawberry, the taste was great. If you haven’t tried a Sour, I wouldn’t recommend this as the first one, but it is delicious. Lots of Sour Strawberry and Funky Lacto notes with a great Wheaty backbone throughout. A great beer, I witnessed someone else try it and pucker. The Barman pointed at the sign above the Bar – “Ya, We Know It’s Sour.”

Next up, we decided to share a small measure of the Lost Abbey 10 Commandments – As you can see above, it’s got Honey, Raisins and Rosemary. Lost Abbey make Belgian inspired beers, and this one is a 12% Dark Strong Ale. It pours Jet Black, on the nose Chocolate, Molasses, Ginger, Honey, Coriander, Light Coffee and Nutmeg. The Flavour on this one is so complex, Raisin, Caramel, Gingerbread, Thyme, Molasses, Pink Peppercorn, some toasted Rosemary notes and a touch of Anise.

Finally, we shared a Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, a Black IPA I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Partly because of the name, and partly because Firestone’s IPA’s and Maltier offerings are great and I was interested on how they’d do a Black IPA. It pours Jet Black with a Tan Head, on the Nose plenty of Roasty Notes with Pine and Citrus coming from the Hops. They must’ve put a lot of Hops in this one, because they really cut through! There’s also some traces of dark fruits. The Palate on this one is lovely, it starts with a big Roasted Malt kick and as it fades into the background the Clean Citrus tones from the Hops come through, building up to a Roasty, Bitter finish. What a great beer!

That’s it for California. I had a great time. The vibe in all the beer-centric places I went were amazing, the food’s great even if you’re trying to eat healthily and great Beer is everywhere. Join me next week for my adventures in Arizona. Sorry this post was late, we had some Computer trouble!

Rye IPA – American: Green Flash Road Warrior

Green Flash Road Warrior

There hasn’t been an extra Wednesday post for a few weeks, so I thought I’d start it right with this Imperial Rye IPA from Green Flash in San Diego. Green Flash’s Imperial IPA’s are some of my favourites, and Rye Beers are one of my favourite styles so I was looking forward to trying this one for quite some time.

Let’s start with Green Flash‘s description of the beer:

HOP ON AND ENJOY THE RYE OF YOUR LIFE

Our Imperial Rye IPA is brewed in the name of our Road Warriors—the sales team who tirelessly hit the streets, traveling from town to town and pub to pub sharing the Green Flash experience. Road Warrior™ charges full flavor forward. Columbus and Mosaic hops, rich crystal and spicy rye malts pave the way for Mosaic and Amarillo dry-hopping to boldly shine through in the finish. Raise a glass to those who never settle!

A catchy motto, one of the quirky things I’ve grown to love when it comes to Green Flash. Also a little story – nice they dedicate it to their hardworking sales people. I also like how Green Flash are always so open about their recipe (it makes my job a little easier too) and always seem to have a positive take on everything they make. Some brewers are doom and gloom and focus on taking down that big brewer, but Green Flash always focus on what they do best – making good beers.

The recipe for this one speaks for itself after looking at the description, so I’m going to be quick! On the Malt bill, we’ve got some Crystal, Rye, 2-Row Barley and a little bit of Pale Malt. On the Hop side, during the boil there’s Columbus and Mosaic. After this, during Fermentation it is dry-hopped with Mosaic and Amarillo. The yeast is most probably the Standard American Ale yeast.
When you pour this beer it’s a Ruby/Brown colour with a thick White head. The head retention is great for this style and leaves some great rings of sticky lacing around the glass. This really is an inviting looking brew! On the nose there’s a lot of Rye and Toffee with hints of Pine. I found myself drinking this one as soon as I smelt it and was met with a wave of Pine and Spicy Rye, followed by some Citrus, a lot of Bubblegum from the abundance of Mosaic hops with a nice complex Caramel finish. I’d say the carbonation on this one is Medium for the style, as some IPAs tend to be quite fizzy at the moment. It finishes Dry and Bitter. For fans of Big IPA’s, I really do recommend this one!
You can buy Green Flash Road Warrior in the UK at:
Beer Gonzo (In Stock at time of Writing)
Chester Beer and Wine (In Stock at time of Writing)
Beers of Europe (In Stock at time of Writing)
EST. CALORIES: 270   ABV: 9%

Double IPA – American: Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

This week I’m writing about a beer I had a little while ago, and may be a little hard to come by now. It definitely deserves a mention though. This Friday’s beer is Stone 18th Anniversary IPA. A beer brewed for the 18th Anniversary of the company. And, of course it’s an IPA! It’s what Stone has become known for over the years.

Let’s start with Stone‘s description of the beer.

As we compose the text for this celebratory beer‐a golden‐brown India pale ale dry-hopped exclusively and abundantly with El Dorado hops‐we stand ready to leap from the precipice of all we know into a new era for our company, our beers and, most importantly, our fans. It’s one that will see us exploring new territory, both geographically and creatively, as we evolve from pacesetters for the American craft brewing movement to cross‐planetary champions of the worldwide cause of craft, hoisting our banner to proclaim artisanal beers’ vast superiority over stripped‐down, business-driven, industrialized, fizzy, yellow mediocrity. We thank you for shadowing us for the first 18 years of our journey, and welcome you to join us for next leg and all that follows.

I won’t spoil what’s on the back of the bottle, as these are still around. Just make sure if you get one now, drink it asap! Stone’s IPA’s are never meant to last long. Quite a modest description for Stone, which I like. However, there’s still the comment about the larger brewers. It’s a good description, it celebrates their journey so far and gives you a tiny insight into the beer with the fact they use El Dorado Hops.

Let’s start with the malts in this one, 2-Row Pale, Crystal with a small amount of English Brown Malt and Briess Dark Roasted Malt. This is how it gets it’s colour and also some of the complex flavours that I will talk about a little later. As for the Hops, as it says in the description:- El Dorado Hops are used in both the boil and Dry Hop during Fermentation. El Dorado Hops are relatively new to the table, and I think it was quite brave of Stone to only use them in such a high profile offering.

When you pour this beer, it pours a Ruby colour with Golden sides and a medium white head. It really does look nice in the glass. It leaves dotty lacing on the glass as the head dissipates to a Thin Foam on the top of the beer. On the nose there’s loads of Lemon, a little Liquorice, Pine and some slight Cocoa. The way this beer looks and smells makes you want to drink it straight away, I haven’t written about a beer that looks this good in the glass for a little while! On the palate, the first thing you get is Toffee and Liquorice, followed by a big Lemony Citrus kick, ending with some bitter Orange peel and Pine. The Lemon flavour carries through the entire time, tied in with some complex coffee and toffee undertone. This beer feels quite light in the mouth, is medium carbonated and ends quite dry. What a fantastic beer, one that I wish Stone would brew again! I’d recommend it if you can get hold of one now, but in a few months it may be worth passing up.

I purchased Stone’s 18th Anniversary beer at Bottledog in Kings Cross, unfortunately I can’t find anywhere online in the UK to grab one of these. Even if you can’t this time, I’d recommend looking around August time for their 19th Anniversary beer, they’re always good!

EST. CALORIES: 255   ABV: 8.5%

Double/Imperial IPA – American: Stone RuinTen

To expand the content of this blog, I’ve decided to write about some of the harder to get (in the UK) beers I’ve had the pleasure of getting my hands on separate from the Friday posts.

Today’s beer is the great RuinTen IPA from one of my favorite West Coast Breweries – Stone. This beer is released once a year in June to commemorate the creation Stone’s awesome Ruination IPA. Originally released in 2012, there was such a huge demand for this beer that Stone decided to make it a Seasonal offering. It was too good to just be one of those “one off” brews.

Let’s start with Stone Brewing Co‘s online description of the beer:

We first released this decidedly indelicate beer in 2012, as Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our belovedly bitter Stone Ruination IPA. Stone RuinTen IPA uses the same recklessly hoppy recipe as the 2012 release; only the name has changed, since we’re now unleashing this belligerently delicious hop monster upon the public on an annual basis. We packed a whopping five pounds of hops into each barrel, and cranked up the ABV to stand up to the hop onslaught. The results are glorious, and we know you’ll rejoice in tasting this audacious gem of hoppy splendor once again. You’re welcome.

The description of the beer on the bottle is a little different, although has less sarcasm than some of Stone‘s other offerings. However, it definitely tells us what to expect – a hell of a lot of Hoppy flavour and a little bit of alcohol warmth.

After a little bit of research and having a look at the website, this beer uses a malt backbone of 2-Row and C15. Now for Stone’s specialty – the Hops! Stone have used a Hop blend called CTZ which stands for Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus, Centennial and Citra. The beer is also dry hopped with Citra for that extra Hoppiness. As soon as I found that out I really wanted to try this brew, as Citra is one of my favourite hops.

This beer pours Golden with a white creamy head. It dissipates quickly, which is expected for a beer that’s over 10%. It leaves a dotty lacing on the glass which is inviting and a thinner head that seems to stay throughout drinking. On the nose you’ve got some Pineapple and Tropical notes from the Citra and some Citrus and Nectarine. This beer really smells inviting, and so deceiving with an IPA over 10%! When you taste this beer, you get a wave of Pineapple, Tropical fruits, a hint of Bubblegum ending in a massive Grapefruit crescendo. The beer is medium to high carbonated and ends with a nice long, clean bitterness. On the finish I would say it’s medium sweet. I really like this beer, and honestly think it’s a contender for the much sought out Pliny the Elder I tried earlier this year.

Although I said this one is pretty hard to find, you can buy Stone RuinTen IPA at:

Brewdog Online Store

It’s currently in stock over there, so grab it whilst you can! Hopefully it’ll be back next year.

As always, a google search is good too!

For any bars, shops etc that are interested, unfortunately Stone beer is flown in by shops that stock it currently but Stone plan to open a brewery in Berlin next year which means wide distribution of Stone Beer soon!

EST. CALORIES: 324   ABV: 10.8%