by Grant Dickie
While at one of our favorite haunts in the H Street District of DC, Granville Moores, I tried another Ballast Point concoction. Ballast Point is a brewery, distillery, home brew shop, and restaurant in San Diego. Previously, I have tried their Sculpin IPA, which I imagine is their flagship beer due to it’s abundance in draft, bottle, and can form. While I wasn’t super impressed with Sculpin, I loved the bottle artwork and felt that the beer itself was a great effort at an American IPA. For this go-around I decided to try their “Victory At Sea” roasted coffee stout on draft. At 10.5% it would take the edge off the icy, gross weather we have been having lately.
Victory At Sea (the bottle logo being a skeleton, in a pirate hat complete with skeletor-parrot, maniacally driving a wooden ship wheel - very cool) does a great job pairing a robust stout with coffee. “Sand Diegos own Caffe Calabria” roasted coffee comes off as an aftertaste, not a punch in the mouth. Hints of vanilla hide behind the chocolate malt to balance the acidity. Ballast Point’s website lists “German Chocolate Cake” as an appropriate food pairing, which is no surprise! This elixir tastes like rich, velvety, chocolate cake at first blush. Despite the gruesome spector displayed by the bottle artwork (again...so cool...so brutal) the 10.5% ABV settles easily and has no harsh alcohol feeling. That superb balance comes at a bit of a loss to the “warming” sensation typical of high ABV beers. Victory At Sea didn’t provide that boozy feel as much - there is so much malt and flavor it’s almost like eating a cake with alcohol in it. Still I can’t complain since it gives a very complex flavor without making my head swim.
Overall this beer gives a pleasurable flavor to any throat that has the delight to acquaint themselves. The belly, though, may feel left out of that warming sensation (I know mine did). So bottom line buy it for the artwork and for the rich, roasty, chocolate and coffee sensation. Here’s where I imagine drinking this beer: a weekend morning with a gluttonous plate of fried eggs, toasting it in the air with that cockamamy skeleton driving the boat, or served with any rich dessert.