To start off I want to mention that I did get my flight for no charge thanks to the generosity of the server. This is not going to impact my views as you will see here. Helms is an interesting brewery that most people probably haven’t been to before. Despite having an idea before where it was I was a bit surprised when I actually arrived at the brewery. A number of breweries I have been to were a bit out of the way but this one is pretty obscure and might confuse a few people the first time you go. Thankfully, the beers are so good that you won’t mind a little side trip to get there.
There were more beers on tap than I got to review here but I had already stopped by another brewery before and didn’t have the stomach or the interest to try everything. I include a picture of the rest of the offerings in case you like different styles.
Captain’s Pale ale
I was quite impressed by this one. It is a bit stronger than I might have liked for a pale ale (it isn’t a session like I have been searching for.) Still, it has some nice citrus flavors and has a nice balance despite the malts that are there like we typically see in an American Pale Ale. The tropical fruit flavors come forward nicely.
Wicked as Sin Rye IPA
This IPA hit the spot quite nicely. It has some amazing hop flavors with the Citra and mosaic hops. The rye balances it out nicely. This might be a new favorite of mine. I left the brewery with a 22oz bottle to enjoy later. The rye makes it taste somewhat similar to the blazing world from modern times and gives it a nice contrast to the hops. This is one of those IPAs that might interest your friends who hate IPAs, or in my case my husband. Though he typically hates all IPAs, he said this one was “not bad.”
Hop the RIPA
Though typically RIPA might stand for rye, this one stands for red. It has an interesting flavor but weighs heavy towards the malts. The flavors are based on an Irish red style, though for me it was a little too malty. The flavor is a bit on the syrupy side and sadly the hops don’t come through as much as I would like. Beerucchino Imperial Coffee Porter
True to its name, this is a beer for coffee lovers. It has a nice smooth coffee flavor at the forefront with a light chocolate flavor on the back end. I wasn’t able to taste the pepper and almond wood that it says are in here but they might account for some of the mellow flavors it has. This beer really goes down easy despite its ABV of 7.2% Chocolate night Imperial Stout
Hard to say what I don’t like here. The chocolate isn’t very prominent and the vanilla seems a little sour. Perhaps the malts were what got to me but I didn’t find that it had the flavors I like out of an imperial stout. Though my husband was quick to devour this one and thought it was nice because it wasn’t too bitter, I didn’t find the flavors hit the right spots.
Overall, I was quite impressed by the lineup and look forward to seeing some of these beers in a six-pack sometime in the future, especially the Pale Ale, Rye IPA, and Beerucchino. The Wicked As Sin has the types of hops I have come to love lately and would be worth picking up if you see it in stores near you.
When Green Flash came out with the Black IPA a while ago I wasn’t familiar with the style and it seemed a bit strange. I probably had a small amount of it at first but forgot it was there. Now in 2014, Green Flash decided to start the year off with 22oz bottles of the beers from the Hop Odyssey series. Black IPA is the first such beer and it is a bitter brew.
It pours black as stout but lacks any of the sweet coffee or chocolate flavors that might bring some people to like stouts. My first thought upon tasting this beer was “Wow that is bitter!” Other people I talked to at the brewery didn’t find it particularly bitter so perhaps the roasted malt flavors that I tasted came off to me as bitter. I would expect that this beer is probably a minimum of 80IBU and perhaps even up there into 90IBU. I couldn’t immediately tell what hops I tasted but my best guess is that they used the New Zealand hops that Green Flash uses for the Green Bullet. Before I left I picked up a 22oz bottle so I’ll see if I like it more in the bottle. This isn’t a bad beer but it didn’t immediately grab me. I think it could have benefited from some chocolate flavors.
Though this is a beer blog, when breweries decide to expand into spirits I can’t help but cover their endeavors. Ballast Point recently started spirit tasting but with some restrictions. In order to taste these delicious spirits you must pay for a tour and then go back and taste. Each taster is 1/4 an ounce and served in a glass that makes it possible to get a good idea of each drink from that small amount. For now the spirit tasting is only available at the Old Grove location in Scripps Ranch. You have to stop by on the same day as the tour to sign up and pay for everyone you expect to join you. They charge $10 for the tour and tasting combined.
The tasting lets you experience the vodka, gin, two kinds of rum, moonshine, and bourbon. Ballast Point spirits are different from what you might find in the stores otherwise because the vodka and gin are both distilled and then reduced to the percentage you taste. Most vodkas are not distilled by the companies but made using mass produced ethanol. This gives them a delicious smooth flavor that you don’t usually see with these.
The vodka was not my thing, though it was a bit smoother than others I have had in the past. The gin is infused with their own selection of botanicals and gives it a delicious flavor heavy on the floral side. The clear rum was not really my thing, a bit too mellow for my tastes. It has a sweet flavor that comes from the sugar cane they use as the base. This is used instead of molasses that most rums are made from. The aged rum was a delicious smooth drink aged in American Oak barrels. It has many similar flavor characteristics that you might be familiar with in bourbon and whiskey. The moonshine was a bit on the sweet side and pretty similar to the white rum. We ended with a flavor of the Devil’s Share Bourbon, a rare commodity that you probably won’t be able to buy outside of this tasting tour. Keep an eye on their facebook if you are interested in catching the next release of whiskey. Until then, I would suggest you stick with the aged rum if you are into that style of drink.