Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm blogging, so it must be test season!

And it is! I will not have a midterm get in the way of my insatiable desire to procrastinate. For the time being, this means another beer post (or two) since that's kind of what my extra-curriculars have involved lately (who says college ever has to end?)

So you may remember Verdugo Bar from my last post. Much like the Russian River night they hosted in February, last week they hosted a Ballast Point night.

Ballast Point, a brewery in the San Diego area, is particularly well known for their medal-winning IPA, Sculpin. I personally had been blinded by my devotion to Sculpin and was really not familiar with any of their other brews, so this was a nice opportunity to try some of their other beers and even talk to one of the head brewers (a bunch of the BP guys were actually all chilling at the bar that night, so it was nice to see some representation and talk to them about the beer.) First up I tried the HabaƱero Sculpin.


It tasted quite like how you'd expect! Which is to say, like Sculpin, but spicy. Original Sculpin has a fantastic blend of tropical and citrus fruit taste with very palatable hops on the finish. The spice in this version came in after the initial hit of fruit and stayed on through the finish. I wouldn't say it wiped out the hops (such things are difficult to do in IPAs) but it definitely provided a strong counterpoint to what is traditionally a dominant taste in this style of beer. I don't know how often they brew this, but I'd recommend trying it if you see it. It's not going on a favorites list, but it's definitely worth the novelty of trying.

Next up was the 2011 Sea Monster, an Imperial Stout.

They also offered a barrel-aged version of this on tap that night, which Casper opted to try. I'm still developing a taste for barrel-aged beers since the scotch and bourbon notes that are often present in these are overpowering for me, at the moment. So I went with the regular 2011 Sea Monster, which I found light in flavor for a stout. It's possible that my taste buds were a little warped by the punch of the HabaƱero Sculpin, so I'm giving this the benefit of the doubt, but that night I found it unremarkable.

Finally, after gulping down a burger from the Grill 'Em All truck (seriously, try this one if you get a chance) I finally went for the Abandon Ship Smoked Lager.

The picture is a little wonky - apologies. It was a full pint. Anyway, I don't usually go for lager styles. They're a little light for me, generally, and I am not sure if my palate is really refined enough to pick up on the subtleties of the style. I mean, generally I tend to go for really brash, overconfident beers, so particularly lagers/pilsners tend to get lost in the fold if they're not packing some kind of punch. Enter the smoked lager, which I thought would be an interesting adaptation. Suffice it to say I did like the smoke element, though as I am sitting here recapping I'm having a hard time putting my finger on some of the other flavor essences in the beer. I definitely remember liking it, but obviously as I suspected the subtleties were lost on me besides the smokiness.

Here is a picture of the full list of beers and burgers that were offered that night. I was in heaven, guys.

Anyway, I'm really growing to love this bar and Eagle Rock Brewery, which I am going to post on next time I feel like hammering out a post.
Also, as an aside - right at the end I got to try Nitro-Sculpin, which was awesome. I love beers on nitro - it gives them an interesting creaminess in the texture that can be a quite appealing addendum to the taste of the beer. Generally I've had darker beers on nitro, but I found it also added a worthwhile element to the Sculpin that puts it in the "definitely get this" realm if you ever see it available on tap.

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