Have you ever had a beer that, upon the first sip, your every sense is given a jolt? Your taste buds are firing on all cylinders while your brain comes to life as you gaze at the container in your trembling hand, wondering why all beer can’t be this good.
Your next pull is a big gulp and those sensations are now turned up to eleven as even more flavor suffuses your core being. In a humbling lack of sufficient ways to describe, you begin to whisper one-syllable exclamations of admiration like “wow,” “oh, my” and certain four-letter words unprintable in a family publication.
This is not hyperbole. I’m not exaggerating. And, considering the vast amount of breweries and styles I’ve tried over my years, it’s only happened to me a handful of times, if that.
One of our bartenders who is very enthusiastic about good suds generously gifted me with a single bottle out of a six-pack he bought. I had heard about it but hadn’t gotten around to seeking any out as of yet. Later in the day, once the bottle was properly chilled, I cracked it open and experienced everything described in the first two paragraphs of this column.
That beer was Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado.
Immediately I went out to the last store in town rumored to still possess even a scant six-pack of this stuff. Jackpot, last one on the shelf. I cautiously rationed them out but willpower isn’t one of my stronger suits and they were gone all too soon. Then I was informed that some were spotted at a liquor store up north. Was I really about to drive a half-hour one-way to drop significant coin on another sixer? Heck, given its street cred it was a gamble that any would even be there and the trip would be for naught. The beer gods were smiling and I scored once again.
Two reasons for its inherent rarity despite being a year-round offering from the brewery: One – should be apparent from everything you’ve already read, and Two – the brewery had just switched distributors and supply had waned in the transition. And now that they’re carried locally, this junkie is going to get his fix.
Seeing as how certain hops can exhibit flavors of melon, the inclusion of fresh watermelon in this strong, Imperial India Pale Ale wasn’t weird to me. Considering how ridiculously hoppy this beer is, the melon works in tandem with the malt base to provide a big smack of sweetness to even out the big-time bitterness.
The orange-gold elixir sits with a fine, creamy cap at its top while candied scents of Watermelon Jolly Rancher mesh seamlessly with lemon and tangerine. And, oh, how those sticky hop oils linger in the finish after delivering a wallop of grapefruit peel bitterness plus a touch of pine, something akin to spiced rum and even more watermelon. There’s a crisp carbonation that attempts to scrub away those oils but, in the end, thankfully fails leaving behind a thoroughly satisfying yin-yang of bitter and sweet.
May your next unknown beer be as rewarding as what I’ve found in Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado. Happy hunting and savor the discovery.