Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ballast Point IPAs — Sculpin vs. Big Eye

Ballast Point
Big Eye IPA
ABV 7%

Ballast Point
Sculpin IPA
ABV 7%

San Diego has a ton of great breweries, many of which are well known for their deftness with hops. Being fond of the hops ourselves, we were very pleased to see that Ballast Point recently expanded its distribution to Southern Oregon. As I scanned the new selection of Ballast Point offerings I was surprised to see that there were two different IPAs available. Turns out that the people at Ballast Point are so enamored with hops that they have two IPAs available year-round. Two IPAs, one brewery — sounds like a Bottle Battle! As always we did a blind tasting to keep everything unbiased.

Beer #1 (Big Eye) was clear and reddish orange. It featured a fresh, grassy and piny aroma. Flavor was pine resin throughout with a nice clean balance of malt and hops. There was also a distinct fruitiness in the flavor that added extra complexity. The finish was moderately bitter — enough to know you were drinking an IPA, but not so much that your taste buds cringed.

Beer #2 (Sculpin) was a hazy brownish orange. The nose was earthy (almost vegetal) with some tropical fruits and peach mixed in. Malty fruit flavors dominated the flavor with a bit of tropical fruit hoppiness coming through as well. The finish was more sweet than we were expecting from an IPA, but even so, it managed to provide a pleasantly mild bitterness.

Interestingly enough, we thought both of these hoppy beers really excelled with their use of malts. We've tried our share of IPAs that were not much more than hop water so it's always nice to try some that seem to find that elusive balance. In both cases the malts provided a fruity complexity that was much more than just added sweetness. In the end, however, it was the hops that won us over as we both chose the Big Eye which was the hoppier of the two. 

Unanimous decision: Big Eye

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