Thursday, October 28, 2010

BEERflections ~ Hurricanes VB Welcomes Ballast Point Brewing to Florida

Knowing a new craft brewery is coming to my home state and my hometown is always cause for celebration. Beer diversity is beautiful; whether it tickles your specific fancy or not is just a matter of individual semantics. Regarding Ballast Point Brewing out of San Diego, California, there truly is no ground for semantics. Good beer is good and great beer is great. Ballast Point falls firmly within the latter camp. At the 2010 World Beer Cup, they walked away with three gold medals, tying Baird Brewing of Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan for most gold medals awarded to a single brewery. Ballast Point was also awarded the esteemed honor of Small Brewery of the Year. Considering the number of wonderful small breweries throughout the USofA and considering this is the World Beer Cup, the world, it is an award of grandeur and promise.

One aspect of Ballast Point which has not landed on the shores of Florida yet and may never is their micro-distilled spirits. Very limited releases of very small batches also critically acclaimed, I look forward to eventually somehow someway being able to dapple in their spirited side of flavor exploration and ingenuity. But in the meantime, there be tasty beers to explore and explore I did in sight, sound, and body.

From coast to coast, in eleven exclusively JJ Taylor accounts across Florida on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 five tastetacular Ballast Point beers were released unto thirsty burgundians throughout. A rollout more than an event for this round, it was the perfect modus operandi to introduce a new brewery and their beers to the sunshine state without over saturating the market and consequently dooming the merry venture to rapid oblivion. Nothing can be more personally frustrating and discouraging than watching a good brewery with good beer fall between the cracks, nay pushed, due to lack of overall commitment, hindsight, and foresight. Based equally on years of personal experience, I can say without a doubt Ballast Point is in excellent hands with JJ Taylor and consequently, Hurricane Grille & Wings of Vero Beach, Florida. One of only two accounts (for now) on the Treasure Coast, the other is the esteemed Vine & Barley of St. Lucie West. Two radically different venues, both have at their heart the most important life-stream of good beer, good friends, and good times.

Being an all business day kickoff, I ran through my usual morning routine of reading, writing, blogging, and working out before prepping to embrace the day’s festivities. Looking forward to Tim Hebeler’s arrival later that afternoon along with some of my super awesome posse of peeps and a few resident members of the JJ Taylor family, yours beerly rolled in around 5pmish. Camera in hand, my first mission was documenting the gorgeous tap handles that were smartly lined up in a neat little row. Together and individually, I memorialized their maritime styled taps of beerly glory for all to appreciate.

They were:
  • Yellowtail Pale Ale – soft, gentle, and breadly sweet, she is a fine tribute to the Kolsch style who will reward the patient drinker with layer upon layer of subtle flavors.
  • Wahoo Wheat – an American inspired wheat, her supple flavors of tropical fruits freshly picked, sliced, and ready for eating is equally matched by a softly sweet bready mouthfeel.
  • Big Eye IPA – an IPA which exemplifies balance between malty caramelized sweetness, crispy golden brown melba, and a never-ending brisk grassy hoppiness.
  • Calico Amber Ale – a real crowd pleaser, she demands your attention with clean pervasive bitterness which never overwhelms and is parried by a crisp crunchy sweetness ending in an aptly thirst-inducing dryness.
  • Sculpin IPA – for the hophead in all of us, she is equally clean and hoptastic with bright freshly sliced and squeezed white grapefruit, lemon, and straight from the west coast, pine needles aplenty.

Without a single doubt, all beers were good but I really dug the Sculpin that day having been hop-deprived for a bad long while. Hit the spot she did and then some.

All new beers to my palate, tasting notes were nonetheless put on the wayside for the simple pleasure of savoring new beers amidst friends and family (you rock, Dad!) without having to divert attentions to engage pen and paper. Tasting notes are still to come, but in regards to Ballast Point Brewing in Florida, time is on my side. Also hopefully evident by now is the pervasive maritime fisherman’s theme. From the beers to the brewery to the brewery staffed fishing team, the deep blue is near and dear to their hearts, a sentiment any Floridian worth their salt will echo unconditionally. Me? Oh yes! I grew up on the Indian River and spent many hours of many days of many years fishing within the embrace of Mother Ocean.

And so, in no hurry to be anywhere else, I slowly surely supped my way through their five tastetacular beers, a bounty worthy of the Treasure Coast. All it takes to enjoy these unburied gems is a glass and a thirst, something this beer geek is never without. The future is bright, indeed.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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