There can only be one undistributed beer of the week. The competition is fierce in San Diego's beer community, but someone has to take the title. This week's best undistributed beer is....
BALLAST POINT BREWING CO.: RED VELVET CAKE
Style: Golden oatmeal stout
ABV: 5.3 %
Pair With: cheesecake
This stellar brew has an incredible clarity to it, with a pinkish-white head and red beer coloring that makes it look exactly how it tastes: like a red velvet cake got squeezed into a Ballast Point pint glass. It's filled with robust flavors of cocoa, milk chocolate and sweet fruit, yet finishes velvety-smooth with a lingering, earthy taste.
This beer comes to us from Nate Stephens at Ballast Point Brewing Co. Nate is a Research and Development (R&D) brewer for the Little Italy location, known for their experimental beer-list, filled with unique brew styles and out-there flavor combinations.
The Red Velvet beer is hard to label with a specific "style" because it has so many things in one delicious brew. The golden oatmeal stout, made with beets and chocolate pours deep red, due to the addition of beets. It makes the beer truly look like red velvet cake in beer-form, with whipped cream and all. While sweet in scent with obvious notes of cocoa and rich, chocolatey flavors, this brew somehow manages to not have that "too sweet" dessert beer taste.
"I think it peaks the customers interest but then when its poured it really blindsides their senses," Stephens said. "That's one of the reasons that we like Red Velvet so much, there is really nothing else like it."
The idea of working with beets may seem like an odd mixture for beer, until you try it and realize how damn good it tastes when paired with the right flavors.
Nate and the Ballast Point team of R&D brewers first experimented with a double IPA to make that particular beer pink in color. Turns out, the beets added more than just a pretty color. The beets contributed an earthy quality, which led them to start messing with a possible beet and chocolate recipe because traditional red velvet cake is actually made with beets, Stephens said.
The massively popular beer recipe stuck and has changed very little since it was made for the first time a year ago. It tends to come and go quick when it's on tap because of it's qualities and because people gravitate towards the dessert-like beers. This was even further evidenced at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in 2015.
"We brought a keg of it to serve at GABF last year and it would have kicked halfway into the first session if we hadn't pulled it to save some for the next day," Stephens said. "It was really exciting to see Red Velvet so well received at such a massive beer event."
This beer is on tap for a limited time at Ballast Point locations across San Diego County. Get it while it's cold!
Ballast Point Brewing Co, 2215 India St., Little Italy. ballastpoint.com