Ballast Point ‘Big Eye’ IPA

Ballast Point 'Big Eye' IPA
Ballast Point 'Big Eye' IPA

My memory of this one gets a little hazy. I mean, the Creatures Stout was delightfully light, but it was followed by heavier things — as we continued to ramble, sit around and generally enjoy my unexpected Saturday night off. So far as memory (imperfectly) serves, I had a couple of Three Boys’ magnificent Oyster Stouts, joined a round of whiskies with my flatmate and his friends, and was given a Schneider ‘Aventinus’ that was accidentally opened (instead of the other kind of Schneider in stock). I was, therefore, perilously close to violating the Rule Against, but — as is, admittedly, quite-often the case — proceeded regardless.

I couldn’t not, really. I’d just missed out on a proper glass of the same brewery’s ‘Sculpin’ IPA: a ludicrously-highly-regarded thing of which I only managed an instantly-impressive taste that (apparently) put me in mind of “angry peaches”. The Hop Garden had bought their keg of Sculpin from the fine folks down the road at Hashigo Zake — in the spirit of a rising tide lifting all boats, and in the knowledge that your competition isn’t really your competition in the usual sense, in this business — and there were a few bottles of this in the fridge, so it seemed the obvious backup choice.

The impressions that stay with me through the partial fog of over-indulgence are simply these: loveliness and balance. The hops are met with enough of a smooth body to maintain an enormous amount of drinkability for something so flavourful. And they aren’t all about bitterness for the sake of it; they’re there in their massive quantities for a reason — as a device to deliver deliciousness, not just a way to punch you in the head as an end in itself. Some American IPAs (and some things inspired thereby) can slip into cartoonishness and a weird sort of blinkered extremism that (for me) often (but not always) defeats a lot of the fun. This isn’t one of those, not by a long shot; it’s big, but equally even-handed and enjoyable.

Ballast Point 'Big Eye' IPA
Diary II entry #92, Ballast Point 'Big Eye' IPA

Verbatim: Ballast Point ‘Big Eye’ IPA 16/4/11 @ HG, after a mispour Aventinus. Score! Their ‘Sculpin’ was on tap, but ran out before this, while I was distracted by the above — it tasted, from a sample, like angry peaches; marvellous. This is a lovely red-bronze, 6.0%, 355ml $10.50. Fresh, fruit-laden nose. Very smooth body. It’s utterly lovely. Despite the origin, the style, the strength. Another astute HZ purchase. Clever chaps. Delicious, and balanced, as they are, against their stereotype.

3 thoughts on “Ballast Point ‘Big Eye’ IPA”

  1. My Big Eye experience was one of near perfection, until that moment when someone said “it’s a bit ‘eggy’ though”… and they were so damn right.  I hate it when that happens.  In its worst form, you are the one who accuses.  In its best form, you don’t get the problem and drink away oblivious to it all.  

    Lovely balance in that beer though.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy it again on another occasion.

    Sculpin’ didn’t do it for me at all.

  2. Oh yeah, that’s an aggravatingly / hilariously weird effect, that. My strangest instance of it was when a few customers stumbled upon the idea that Hoegaarden ‘Forbidden Fruit’ tasted oddly reminiscent of baked beans. One of them had said it, ruined it for the others who were having it — and so they all called me over and pulled the same trick on me. It was surreal, but I had to concede the point.

    What was up with Sculpin? It seemed like fun. Was it just a bit over the top?

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