Since yesterday was National Beer Day, my trusty beer-loving companion Cris and I decided we should celebrate the occasion with a visit to a new (for us) brewery to grab some lunch and a flight or two of beer tasting. We both enjoy a nice cold Ballast Point Pale Ale on occasion, so our decision took mere minutes to make. Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen is conveniently located in San Diego’s delightful community of Little Italy, which also happens to be one of our favorite little haunts.
We bellied up to the looonnnngggg bar and were promptly greeted by Greg and Tristan, who gave us a solid lesson about the 30+ Ballast Point beers they were offering. Who knew there were so many beer styles? Scottish Ale, German “Schwartzbier”, Helles Lager, IPAs and IPLs, Stout, Black Lager, English Bitter (insert bitter beer face here), Porter, Pale Ales in Belgian, India, American and English styles. Double … blended … smoked …
We each finally settled on a pour of Fathom India Pale Lager (yes, we’ve enjoyed it before, so it was the logical choice), and chose to focus on the lunch menu, which caused even more confusion. PB&J Wings with peanut, blackberry and jalapeño glaze? Ummm – drool. Arugula Salad with smoked corn, pickled Fresno chile and red grapefruit vinaigrette? Really??!! Crispy Chicken Sandwich with jalapeño remoulade, avocado and slaw on a brioche bun?? This is clearly NOT your average pub food, my friends.
Now it just so happens that I love an order of steamed mussels when they’re prepared well, and a pile of those tasty little molluscs which have been simmered in a concoction of beer, ginger, jalapeño, garlic, Spanish chorizo and shishito peppers is simply not gonna pass me by. I’m just sayin’ … those were the best darn mussels I’ve had in … I can’t remember. Ohhh my Gawd they were amazing!
And when my beer drinking, fish loving partner in crime discovered that fresh Yellowtail was the catch of the day, the grilled fish tacos with crema, avocado, salsa fresco and beans, and an Even Keel Session IPA to wash them down was the clincher for him. Being the sweet man he is (most of the time), he kindly offered me a sample of each, both of which were chock full of awesome flavors. I actually enjoyed the Even Keel more than my previous Ballast Point favorite, their Fathom IPL.
Now, for dessert. The Fathom, Even Keel and a few other tastes (Oompa Lupus et.al.) that our new friends Greg and Tristan convinced us to try all combined nicely to give us a bit of liquid courage. A flight of three individual four-ounce tasters seemed like the logical conclusion for our liquid “dessert”, so we selected an R&D Kelp Forest English Mild Ale (LOVED IT!), Grunion American Pale Ale (it won Gold at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival and Silver at the 2015 Craft Beer Awards), and an R&D No Brand Affiliation Schwarzbier (those Germans sure like their robust brew!)
The experience Cris and I had at Ballast Point was absolutely fantastic. They don’t just say, “they’re dedicated to the craft” here; they walk the talk. The servers, bartenders and staff are incredibly knowledgeable and FRIENDLY. (They work at a brewery just blocks from San Diego Bay, for crying out loud.) Our meals were exceptional — just really, really delicious. The clean, open concept of the bar and dining area was so laid back and refreshing — no elbow to elbow/shoulder to shoulder business here. To sum it up, this was one helluva a FUN day; thank you Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen!
It sure seems that with Ballast Point’s diverse selection of suds, this actually is where, as they say, science meets art. The beers are inventive, artful and skillfully crafted which absolutely results in a tastefully superior brew. And their names are just as unique; Oompa Lupus; Tongue Buckler; Indra Kunindra; Thai Chili Wahoo; Cluster Fuggle; Victory at Sea … if these names don’t arouse a bit of curiosity, maybe you should have your pulse checked.
By the way, the Ballast Point folks aren’t just into beer these days; they’ve ventured into craft spirits including vodka, gin, rum and whiskey. Ballast Point Spirits recently won big with 12 Awards at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition including a Double Gold Award (the competition’s highest medal) for Devils Share Bourbon. Cheers to that!