Monday, July 27, 2015

Homework Series #5

Ballast Point puts out a periodic line of beers called Homework Series, which are one-time releases, separate from Ballast Point's regular beer production.   The Homework Series, which began in 2013, is brewed for the home brewer.   Each Homework Series bottle comes with a comprehensive recipe, list of ingredients, and detailed brewing instructions.

Ballast Point is up to number five in its Homework Series.  The previous four were a hoppy red ale (Batch #1), a Belgian-style double IPA (Batch #2), an English IPA (Batch #3), and a pumpkin beer (Batch #4).  To me, three of the first four were excellent.  The first in the series, Hoppy Red Ale, was so good and popular Ballast Point made two batches of it.  The English IPA was sublime and I can't remember a better pumpkin beer than Batch #4.  The hoppy Belgian double IPA (Batch #2) was nearly undrinkable, and the lone dud in the series.

The latest, Hoppy Belgian-style Pale Ale (Batch #5), makes up for Homework Series' previous Belgian-style effort, the nasty Batch #2.  Hoppy Belgian-Style Pale Ale was a cloudy, glowing gold beneath a white foam.  The pale ale smelled of yeast and fruit, and you immediately tasted the tart, immediately distinctive Belgian yeast (White Labs 575 Belgian Style Ale Yeast Blend) along with sweet stone fruit.  At only 6.8% abv, the beer's alcohol was subordinate to other flavors and mostly non-existent.  I found Batch #5 smooth and almost creamy, and its body light.  The lingering, bitter finish (from Belma hops), which became sharper as the beer warmed, earned Batch #5 the Hoppy in its name.

I have found that with some Belgian-style pale ales or IPAs, brewers compensate for the acute Belgian yeast strains and their prominent flavors by over malting or over hopping the beers.  This fight for flavor dominance can make Belgian-style pale ales or IPAs hard to drink, as big ingredients do not always complement each other.  Ballast Point went for subtlety and nuance in Batch #5, and brewed a drinkable, delicious beer, and is now four out of five in its Homework Series.

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