Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ballast Point at Capone's

With the first day of Philly Beer Week under my belt, my wife and I planned some errands around stopping at Capone's for lunch for the Ballast Point event. I knew this would be the only day I could get out there and how could I have a beer week without involving Capone's?

We arrived around 12:15 and while there were a few people, it wasn't too crowded. Apparently the Hill Farmstead event the day before was ridiculous as a bus full of beer geeks showed up so that would explain that. Even though this was the Ballast Point event, I noticed Hill Farmstead Fear & Trembling was still on draft and decided to start with that instead. This was brewed with some smoked malt then aged in some sort of red wine barrels if I remember correctly. There are a bunch of different versions of it on BeerAdvocate but I think it was the Cabernet version.
Smoky nose on it. Smokier than I expected really but I had never heard of it before that day so I'm not sure what I actually expected. First sip had some smoke and some red wine notes with not much else. As I drank more the smoke died down a bit which allowed some vanilla and the red wine to come to the front. Decent beer, but the smoke overshadowed the flavors for me a bit too much which in turn lowered the complexity of it. If you like smoke and have a lot of experience, this is probably the beer for you.

After that I got a glass of the Ballast Point Bourbon Barrel Victory@Sea being served on nitro.
Looks almost exactly the same as the above picture but it is a different one, I swear. Nose is mild because of the nitro pour, but smelled completely of bourbon. First sip was a lot of bourbon flavor, then a decent bit of vanilla. No coffee I could find. The bourbon continued with a decent amount of alcohol heat. Definitely a little boozy although it wasn't overwhelming. I thought as I drank more the heat would mellow out but it actually became more the focal point. The heavy vanilla flavors tried their best to pull it back but never totally succeeded. Good, but the bourbon stuff at Devil's Den was a bit less booze and bit more beer.

Since Capone's had both the Ballast Point Bourbon Barrel Tongue Buckler and regular Tongue Buckler, I decided to do a side by side and get a full glass of the bourbon barrel and a sampler of the regular to try to taste the difference.
The left is the sample of regular Tongue Buckler with the right being the bourbon barrel version. The aroma for both was pretty similar actually. Citrusy with a hint of bitterness. The difference was mainly that the bourbon version was a bit more muted than the regular. Flavor wise, though, pretty different. Bourbon had a thick and syrupy mouthfeel and a decent amount of sweetness. Still finished with some citrusy bitterness, but I didn't feel like it was fighting me and instead was just balancing the sweetness. The regular was still a little thick (seeing as how it's 10%, not surprising) but wasn't as syrupy as the bourbon. This version was way more bitter and way more citrusy throughout rather than just at the end. Instead of balancing the sweetness, the bitterness just overshadowed everything. I really enjoyed the bourbon Tongue Buckler, more than I thought I would. It takes everything from the regular version, pulls out the best parts of it, lessens the bitterness and then adds hints of bourbon and vanilla. Really great. I chatted with one of the Ballast Point guys about it and he prefers the barrel aged to the normal as well.

So another great visit to Capone's. It was nice getting to try a Hill Farmstead beer as I've heard a lot about that brewery and the Ballast Point stuff was quite tasty with the Barrel Aged Tongue Buckler competing for my favorite of the weekend. I also ran into Mike from Bavarian Barbarian again which was cool and the Ballast Point guys were all really nice. And, really, a visit to Capone's is always great so one during beer week was a must. Wish I could make it Thursday for the Founders event but I'll just have to live vicariously through everyone else.

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