I want to be one of the beer cool kids!
Remember back to when you were a kid? For me it was the 1980’s, a decade of excess, big hair, loud clothes, awesome music and cult movie classics like The Goonies and Back To The Future!
Unless you were one of those superstar cool kids (I wasn’t), I am sure there was a time in your school life when you felt “out of it” because you were wearing the wrong brand of sneakers, or didn’t have the latest snack food in your lunch box, or were excluded from a game of British Bulldog or Kiss Chasey. Yeah, I can just see you nodding in agreement, you weren’t that cool either, were you?
I remember being in Primary School and that all of my mates all had Masters of The Universe action figures and I was always the one trying to borrow one or bringing along something else to join in the game. I don’t remember why I didn’t catch on to the fad of He-Man, but I just kind of missed it and went straight to Optimus Prime and the Transformers?
Later on, in High School, when my mates were all into Metallica and Megadeth, I preferred Run DMC and the more lame big hair rock that my older brother served up to me like Poison, Motley Crue (pictured) and Twisted Sister.
Don’t get me wrong, I had an awesome childhood, but occasionally when making important life choices on pop culture icons like He-Man vs Transformers, I zigged when I perhaps should have zagged. Having said that, I think that my beloved Transformers movies made a little more than the last He-Man movie at the box office!
Why do I bring this up right now? Well lately I have had that feeling of being kinda left out in the craft beer playground. There has been so much hype lately around Ballast Point that I wanted to be a part of, but being that I am 13,000 km (8,000 mi) from the brewery it’s kind of hard to feel involved. All the cool kids were into it and I was sitting on the bench looking on from a distance.
What was all the fuss about? Well a lot of hype surrounding the brand recently has been due to their decision to sell to Constellation Brands for $1B…yep ONE FRIGGEN BILLION DOLLARS. Not bad for a brewery that began its life in the back of a home brew ship oin San Diego!
Billion dollar deals aside, these guys do seem to produce great beers and seem to be still cool in the eyes of craft beer snobs (come see me in 12 months and see if the buyout changes their minds). I have had a couple of their beers a few years ago when in the USA, but it seems lately they are all about the Sculpin IPA, or the variations of it. The Grapefruit IPA is a very popular style in the USA right now and Grapefruit Scuplin is at the forefront of that, from what I hear.
However, Ballast Point turned the geek factor up to 10 when they produced the latest variant just before Christmas, the Pineapple Sculpin (pictured). Twitter, Facebook and Reddit all blew up with pictures of the beer, questions on where to find it (it was hard to get) and reviews of it. All this talk, all these other beer lovers rubbing it in my virtual face, and I felt left out! I know, first world problems!
So anyway, just recently I was at the bottleshop and my heart went into a flutter when I saw the Ballast Point neck label on a stubby in the fridge. I thought to myself “this could be it, it might be the Sculpin, but surely not the Pineapple?” And in my head I was doing the Carlton Dance!
However, I knew it was too good to be true…no Scuplin for me, just the Big Eye IPA. Still wanting to feel like one of the cool kids, I purchased a couple of bottles, but in my heart of hearts I knew I was the kid with the Mighty Machine Men action figure trying to battle against a Transformer…close but no cigar.
I was on the way to the shack when I bought the beer, so knowing that I would be drinking the beer on my balcony overlooking the beach, as opposed to sitting in my kitchen at home, did dull the disappointment somewhat.
And you know what…I am really glad I picked up a couple of these beers, but disappointed that I didn’t pick up a whole six pack! It may not have been the Sculpin, but it was a damn fine beer nonetheless!
I couldn’t find my special IPA glass, so I had to pour it into a stemless wineglass…but it still looked pretty inviting. Pouring a sensational copper-orange colour which was highlighted by the streaming sun in the pic here, and a nice off white head. I am a huge fan of the colour of beers…it’s amazing what colours that a brewer can extract from grains…everything from yellow to orange, black, red and brown with no adjuncts added.
Anyway, moving my big old nose towards the beer revealed floral, citrus, slightly piney and a bit of grapefruit all mixed in there. These notes are being produced by the Columbus and Centennial hops that are used in many West Coast IPA’s. I don’t know what it is about these hops, but West Coast IPA’s seem to be some of my favourite beers (more on that later)! If you are interested in West Coast IPA’s, click here for a great article on their history.
Down the hatch and the flavours were kind of as I expected with a nice toasted malt backbone and those fruity flavours coming through, much like the aroma I have mentioned. The hop bitterness on the finish was spot on and had a little bit of bite that I liked. Nice body and carbonation for an all-round good mouth feel that made me keen for another sip…but don’t I always say that!
I enjoyed my two bottles of Big Eye in the setting sun on the front balcony of the shack, still jealous of my Northern Hemisphere brothers in brews, but happy enough in what I had consumed. Maybe I need to convince my wifey that we need to take another trip to the USA, and this time I bring an empty suitcase lined with a polystyrene skeleton that will fit all the bottles of beer I want to smuggle home with me!
Oh and if the Marketing Manager of Ballast Point reads this (it could happen)…please send more of your beers to Australia!
And for the rest of you, if you are a fan of West Coast IPA’s you should try these as well:
Batch Brewing Company: West Coast IPA
Find the brewery in Marrickville, or search out a tap in the surrounding suburbs…great stuff.
Van Dieman Brewing: Motor Mouth IPA
I am hoping that my quick video has convinced Will to brew this ripping beer again. He didn’t want to waste the hops that were mistakenly sent to him
Easy to find, which is a good thing in my opinion…I don’t get all hung up on a beer being too big to be cool, I just like good beer and this is a ripper.
Russian River Brewing Co: Pliny The Elder
This may just be the most famous example of what a West Coast IPA should be. My mate Dave would agree!
Even the Scottish are in on the act with their IPAs that are all brewed with in the tradition of West Coast IPA’s.
Entry level Dead Pony Club (3.5%), then Punk (5.6%), then up to the Jack Hammer (7.2%) and finally the Imperial Hardrcore IPA at 9.2%!
So that’s it for another beer review wrapped up in a demented story from the depths of my creative mind!
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