Beer Revisited: Calico Amber Ale

Beers brewed by Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits of San Diego, California, recently entered Iowa. I thought I only reviewed Ballast Point’s kölsch before leaving SoCal, so I thought I was safe buying any other Ballast Point beer and grabbed a sixer of Calico Amber Ale last night. It turns out I also reviewed it back in the day.


Anyway, let’s revisit Calico Amber Ale, brewed by Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits of San Diego, California.

The color is deepish, ruddy amber. Two fingers of light tan, buttery, bubble-spotted head settles slowly and evenly, leaving a bubbly skim and thicker ring around the edge. The aroma is rich and malty with a sharp, bitter astringency. It’s a California beer. In a weird way, it reminds me of Dodger Stadium. There are scents of toasted malt, caramel, and astringency. Dark fruit is noticeable in the background, and a hint of toffee seems to emerge as the beer warms. The flavor mostly mirrors the aroma with flavors of caramel, cherry licorice, toasted malt, and a bold bitterness that steals the show and works the taste buds well after each sip. There is a little citrus; tangerine and grapefruit are noticeable, but they do not play a prominent role.

Comparison to previous tasting: Hops and citrus were prominent in my previous review, so there is a huge difference this time around. But what is different — the beer or the reviewer’s palate? I think it’s probably my palate. I am still an amateur when it comes to reviewing beer, but I was even more amateurish back when I first reviewed Calico Amber Ale in 2010 (or so I want to think). But it could also be the beer since it has traveled 2,000 miles to my fridge. Who knows how long that took and its shipping conditions. Recent reviews online, though, seem to indicate that the beer leans malty now.

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