Monthly Archives: July 2009

Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale Review

Bottle of Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale and a glass of beer

Ballast Point Brewing Company is one of the several excellent breweries that are located in the San Diego area, who take their name from an area of San Diego. The Calico Amber Ale is an award winning American Amber Ale, including a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2001. The brewery states that this beer was inspired by the beers of England know as bitters and closely related to an ESB but brewed with American ingredients. Ballast Point describes this beer as follows:

The blend of crystal  malts give it flavors including toffee and caramel.  A blend of American Cascade and Centennial hops provide a counterpoint to the malt.  Finally our proprietary yeast provides a fruity background and a Madeira like richness that rounds out this gold medal winning ale.

Immediately upon opening and pouring this beer you will indeed experience the richness of Calico Amber’s aroma.

Top of a Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale bottleWhere I Found It. BevMo in La Quinta, CA.

Serving Type. 22 oz. bottle.

Appearance. The head of Calico Amber Ale is cappuccino colored and very frothy. The head stayed at an inch or more for an average amount of time but appears to keep a few millimeters of head indefinitely. This beer is crystal clear with a very appealing color. It has a deep red amber color but is not opaque. In fact, it is about as transparent as you can get and still have such a bold dark-red color.

Smell. The hop bouquet is faint can be described as a little spicy and a little coppery. The malt aroma is almost unmatched by any beer that I’ve had so far. It has a strong fresh roasted barley malt smell to it. It smells as if I had just opened the bin of crystal malt at the homebrew shop. It has a bit of brown sugar sweetness too but not like a barleywine. It also smells like boiling wort just before adding the hops.

Taste. Although the taste of Calico Amber Ale beer is very good, the taste is slightly overshadowed by the appearance and the aroma. Don’t get me wrong the flavor is excellent but it is just not as awesome as the appearance and smell. The flavor is sweet roasted barley malts and almost like the flavor of boiling or unfermented wort.  The hops give the beer a hint of copper flavor as well as a bit of spice. There is also the flavor of honey present. This beer is clearly more malty than hoppy but the hops are there to give some balance.

Mouthfeel. This is a medium bodied beer with just the right amount of carbonation. It leaves no hop bitterness on the tongue but does leave a nice sweetness of the malts in the aftertaste .

Drinkability. This is a wonderful beer with a complexity of malt flavors that make it easy to enjoy. The sweetness of the malt makes it smooth.

Glass of Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale and the bottleRating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 5.0
  • Smell (20%): 5.0
  • Taste (40%): 4.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.0
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.0
  • Overall: 4.4


  • Style: American amber ale
  • Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company [more info]
  • Alcohol by volume: 5.0%
  • Hops: Cascade and Centennial
  • Malt: a blend of crystal malts
  • Beer Advocate rating: 3.96 (as of July 22, 2009)

Ballast Point Amber Ale bottle caption textCaption from the Bottle

The following caption is found on the side of the bottle:

Calico Amber Ale won the distinction of being judged “one of the best beers in the world” by winning the 2002 World Beer Cup Gold Medal in the American Amber Ale category. At the 2001 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, Calico Amber Ale won the Gold Medal as the “Best Amber Ale in America”. Full-bodied and aromatic, this California style amber ale is a careful blend of four hops which provides a delicate spice flavor and perfectly balanced finish.

Get the Point!

Other Reviews

Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale bottle

Posted in Beer Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Announcing The Session #30: Beer Desserts

Imperial Stout Beer Brittle

You may have tried, or even made yourself, a few different savory dishes made with beer such as beer brats, BBQ sauce, beer can chicken, or beer battered chicken/fish. Beer seem to work well with this savory dishes but what about sweets and desserts? Beer may not be a common ingredient in desserts but when it is used properly, the results can be very delicious. A couple of desserts that I’ve tried making in the past have been beer brittle (pictured above) and stout chocolate cake. Another common beer dessert is a beer float.

Continue reading

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , | 26 Comments