Tasting: March 1, 2012
Style: Imperial Stout
Rejoice New Jersey craft beer enthusiasts â€“ Ballast Point has returned — I think!
About a year ago, offerings from this California brewer vanished off New Jersey beer shelves. Word was that they hadnâ€™t pulled out of New Jersey â€“ but no one knew of their whereabouts. A few months ago, Ballast Point offered the answer to the mystery that surrounded New Jersey. They mentioned that their New Jersey distributor (Hunterdon) wouldnâ€™t distribute unless the brewery could increase their supply. Ballast Point apologized and said that they didnâ€™t see any increase in output in the near future.
In this case, I understand Hunterdonâ€™s position. They took the same position when Dogfish Head sent them a couple dozen cases of 120 Minute IPA in early 2011. How do they determine which of their customers should get this beer? Should they give it to the store that buys the most beer? â€“ or — the store that sells the most Dogfish Head? They were criticized for their handling of Founderâ€™s Canadian Breakfast Stout â€“ so, this might be their best tack.
Well, Ballast Point’s beer has returned. I was surprised to say the least. It may very well be that Ballast Point appeased Hunterdon by sending New Jersey a large shipment. That might mean that their availability will continue to be spotty — but here I am with a Sea Monster in my hand and a few Sculpin and Big Eye in my fridge. Iâ€™m happy â€“ at least right now.
Pros of the Sea Monster – nice chocolate and smooth (not too bitter) coffee notes and only mild carbonation. Cons – thin and a bit boozy (10% ABV). I can’t gush on and on about this stout or whole-heartedly endorse – but it’s nice and I’ll put it at 84 points. However, I can easily recommend that you go out and get a Sculpin (95 points – # 10 in my top 250) or Big Eye (88 points). Hurry, who knows how long they’ll remain on our shelves.
Read my thoughts on Sculpin HERE
Read my thoughts on Big Eye HERE