10051 Old Grove Road, Suite B, San Diego
There’s plenty on the beer board for hop heads and hot heads at Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. Specialty brewer Colby Chandler is perhaps the world’s foremost expert on crafting chili-infused beers. Allow me to clarify—we’re not talking about those watery, unpalatable novelty beers with sunglass-wearing chilies on the label. The India pale ales, wheat beers, porters, stouts, and more that Chandler heats up are complex beverages that marry the fruity essence of the brew’s hops with the flavors of the peppers he selects for each. That said, they also bring the heat.
In fact, one of the most interesting and intriguing things about these chili beers is how they set taste buds on fire while remaining refreshing enough to inspire an almost self-punishing form of desire for another sip. Easily the most popular of Chandler’s creations is Habanero Sculpin, a downright incendiary version of Ballast Point’s most popular IPA. On a recent visit, I indulged in that, then, being the glutton for punishment that I am, followed it up by trying a beer I’d never seen on tap before, Ballast Point Ghost Pepper Dorado Double IPA.
Having indulged in ghost pepper laden fare in the past, including biting into one all on its own, I can say it does an excellent job of conveying its special ingredients’ vegetal character. It certainly conveys all the heat those little buggers have packed in their capsaicin-lined ribbing. The heat washes over taste buds before finding a lasting home in the back of your throat. I would have found it hard to believe that anything could reduce the massive amount of hops in Double Dorado to second-fiddle status, but the ghost peppers are the star. Be forewarned, if you’re not a fan of big-time heat, this isn’t the beer for you. But if you are, it’s something you absolutely have to seek out and try.