Beer Review #33 — Ballast Point Mango Even Keel & Pineapple Sculpin

By |2018-10-18T13:23:04+00:00January 26th, 2016|

Welcome back all, I thought today would be an excellent opportunity to showcase two new beers from Ballast Point. Recently acquired by Constellation Brands for $1B Ballast Point becomes their sole craft beer brand. Since that acquisition, Ballast Point has been on a bit of a war path with fruited beer releases, taking their core beers and boosting them with fruit. Everything from Watermelon Double IPA, Thai Chili Wit Bier, Orange Vanilla Imperial Lager, just take a gander here at what’s coming down the line —

Now with all those offerings promised, what we’ve gotten so far is Mango Even Keel cans, and Pineapple Sculpin. Rather than review each separately over a few weeks, I figured let’s do both at once.

These have been a bit of a hot button issue with a lot of beer folks, at what point does this go from a beer into a flavored malt beverage, the fact is that these are brewed with flavorings derived from ingredients not typically used in beers. All that said, their Grapefruit Sculpin and Habanero Sculpin released this time last year were fanatical successes, people still line up for the stuff and consistently pay a premium for Ballast Point beers.

Beer #1

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Beer — Mango Even Keel

Brewery — Ballast Point / San Diego, CA

ABV / IBU — 3.8% / 40

Price / Availability — $1.79 / Year-Round

12 oz can poured into 13 oz tulip

Appearance (3/3) — Pours a clear and clean light yellowy orange hue into the glass, there is an off white colored head that forms and leaves behind some wisps of foamy lacing behind it. More lacing and foam than expected from a low ABV session beer.

Aroma (8/12) — Smell is nice and pungent initially, though not overdone, there are notes of stonefruit and tropical overtones, fairly light and not overly mango focused though. There is a grainy and light sweetness here, some cereal graininess and a overly sweet fruit component, a bit unnatural. Smells oddly similar to the Fruity Pebble cereal crack left at the bottom of the bag, you know, that fruity, grainy, sugary sweetness.

Flavor (8/20) — Taste is crisp and straightforward initially with grainy notes of cereal and sweet malts. A real resounding fruity pebble note is present and somewhat overpowers whatever else was going on. A very grainy and artificially sweet fruity pebble note dominates the palate. Little to no mango presence, just an aggressive bitterness and graininess defeats any other nuances.

Mouthfeel (2/5) — Absurdly bitter and astringent, a huge drying finish, acrid, bitter, borderline unpleasant. If you have ever taken the PTC bitterness perception test this leaves a finish that is not unsimilar to the sensation of those paper strips in your mouth. It is light, but this level of bitterness was unexpected.

Overall (5/10) — A bit of a letdown for me, too much graininess and bitterness with no balancing sweetness or any real Mango notes. The base Even Keel has always been fine in my book, a nice and hoppy lower ABV beer that I could enjoy in a pinch. All that said, I still see this one doing well, there is an undeniable shift in the industry towards fruited beers and towards lower ABV beers, I don’t think they have struck gold with this one just yet, but they may certainly be on the right track.

OVERALL — 26/50 GOOD

Beer #2

Beer — Pineapple Sculpin IPA

Brewery — Ballast Point / San Diego, CA

ABV / IBU — 7.0% / 70

Price / Availability — $2.49 / Year-Round

Appearance (3/3) — Pours a clear and bright orangey hue into the glass, there is a billowy cream colored head that rises to the top and leaves behind some consistent rings of foamy lacing down along the inside of the glass with each sip. Looks quite nice and appealing.

Aroma (8/12) — A big bouquet of tropical fruits and citrus overtones dominate the senses. With big waves of juicy pineapple and melon, honeydew, cantaloupe, some fresh Meyer lemon, Blood Orange tartness and a bit of a sugary sweetness on top of a bready and lightly doughy malt foundation. Still, can’t get past this bit of perceived artificial sweetness, just a bit off-putting. Still, all the aromas are there, just not quite sure how they got there and they are borderline overpowering and lacking balance.

Flavor (14/20) — Much more subdued Pineapple character here, this lets the base Sculpin shine through which is greatly appreciated. There are nice notes of pine and citrus, orange peel, lemon, chewy and resinous, a light and somewhat sweet Pineapple presence is noted on the finish, but it is not aggressive or overly done. A nice balance, but errs on the sweeter side.

Mouthfeel (4/5) — Clean and crisp overall, with just a hint of sticky hoppy sweetness on the finish.

Overall (7/10) — A nice new entrant, I think this will do just fine next to Grapefruit Sculpin, there is a bit more sweetness here but it is mostly found on the nose, not super overpowering. This is not a basic IPA, it has added flavors which may not be for everyone. All that said, I think it is worth seeking this one out and giving it a go, you may just be surprised.

OVERALL — 36/50 VERY GOOD

The Mango Even Keel Cans are currently available at Elizabeth Station, Pineapple Sculpin should be arriving later this week, the remaining variants have yet to be released, but should be arriving in the area shortly.

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