Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Suds: Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale

It's been about a year since first I landed on Ballast Point, not as a member of the Navy, mind you, but as a willing explorer of the finer things in brew. I'd stopped in for a visit at one of my favorite Philly-area beer distributors, The Beeryard, in search of a certain IPA I'd tasted during a Philly Beer Week event. Though they had not what I was seeking, the man behind the counter, along with the help of another guy who seemed to be just hanging out, were only too happy to guide me to the IPA from San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing Company as a viable stand-in. Rather than dive head first into a full case, I picked up a Ballast Point sampler case. And while I fully enjoyed their "Big Eye IPA," it turned out to be their lighter, fresher Pale Ale that really set my taste buds alight.

Fast forward a year and there I was back at The Beeryard, this time in search of something light, fresh and quaffable for summertime refreshment. I'd gone in hoping for a case of Gaffel Kolsch but, again, my primary goal was not satisfied. No worries, as in my perusal up and down the high-piled aisles I stumbled upon an old friend, that very same Pale Ale from Ballast Point I'd first tried a year earlier.

Ballast Point's "Yellowtaile Pale Ale," you see, was actually a perfectly apropos replacement, as it actually is a Kolsch (Kolsch is a stylistic subset of the Pale Ale family), brewed in very much the same style as traditional German Kolsch such as that from Gaffel. It could be argued that it's just a touch more assertive in both the alcohol and hoppiness department than most of its German counterparts, but I do mean just a touch. It's still first and foremost about cool, immaculately clean, crisp and refreshing mouthfeel. And at 5%, it's still very much in my session beer comfort zone. This time I jumped in case first, and came up happy.

Nota bene: A quick look at Ballast Point's website suggests that they have dropped the "Yellowtail" moniker, now calling this brew simply "Pale Ale," though the label still sports an image of its former namesake fish.

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