Local brewery still grand


Ballast Point Tasting Room is a classy spot to enjoy house specialties. Photo credit: Bernadette Hilgeman.

Ricardo Soltero

San Diego local craft beer breweries and pundits were shaken last year when Constellation Brand bought Ballast Point Brewing Company.

The Modelo and Corona distributor reportedly acquired Ballast Point, founded in 1996, for $1 billion. The purchase quickly caused concern among aficionados about the brewery’s future.

Amidst speculation of the local brand’s quality after the deal, we put the Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen, located in Little Italy, to the test.

Probably the biggest tasting room in downtown San Diego, the location spells out “big shot” right off the bat. It has plenty of sitting room area, whether at the bar or at a table, plus there’s a lounge-inspired patio. Comfy couches, big screen televisions and an elegant fire pits, all downright relaxing.

The location offers approximately 20 beers on tap, with an option to explore their beer list in different sizes: 4-ounce, 8-ounce or full pint.

One of the standout beers is the Sculpin Indian Pale Ale. Ballast Point’s flagship beer is where you want to start. It is a clean-tasting IPA with sharp flavors and sweet hop taste. Well balanced with a bitter finish, it’s an easy beer to drink without compromising taste.

Within the Sculpin range, there’s the Big Eye IPA. According to Ballast Point, this is the beer that helped put San Diego IPA’s on the map. The beer lives up to that boast with its bold flavor and nice hop bite that highlights the grapefruit and resin. This is a very hop-centered beer with strong citrus notes. It’s pleasing in every way — perfect to accompany a nice, juicy burger.

We’re cheating a little bit with our third choice. If it’s available on tap you might want to try the Mango Even Keel. This session IPA is an offshoot of the Even Keel. With those not familiar with the term, purists describe this as any beer with no higher than three or four percent alcohol by volume (ABV). The Mango Even Keel is perfectly refreshing, crisp and light; bitter hops up front and sweetness at the end. The mango plays off the citrusy hop that lets the fruitiness linger. Fantastic taste and without the elevated ABV.

Food wise, the kitchen part offers an amazing variety of options through their Garden, Land and Sea options. The kitchen offers from fish tacos to roasted brussels sprout salads, but it’s the burgers that really hits the spot. Nothing new or out of the ordinary, to be honest, but the Ballast Point burger is the perfect companion for a pint of beer. Juicy and hefty in size, a burger doesn’t have to be new to be great, sometimes a classic is all that’s needed.

Purists and enthusiasts can relax about the future of one of San Diego’s best. At the moment, the brewery has retained its signature taste and quality. Who’s to say that in the future there will be change but for now one can rest easy. With a vast selection of beer, great-tasting food and an amazing locatio, Ballast Point is your guiding light to quench your thirst on the Pacific Coast.