Ballast Point Brewing Co. hails from the Pacific coast of San Diego. Housed in a repurposed Chicago industrial building, this brewery is pushing the limits of craft beer. The sleek interior welcomes patrons with seemingly endless taps, glass walls bordering fermentation units and brick walls melding into the background.
Ballast Point (212 N. Green St.) is located off of the Morgan CTA Green Line stop across the street from Publican Quality Meats — my personal butcher. The distinct glass exterior and bold white lettering will guide you toward this majestic brewery.
I grabbed a seat at the bar with my close friend Savannah, and we were introduced to a bubbly woman named Kelly. Her enthusiasm spoke louder than any greeting — she obviously loves her job. This made Savannah and I more excited to try the almost-endless tap list. I looked Kelly in the eyes when she asked what we would like and said, “Surprise me.” Her reaction was priceless: a little confusion mixed with concern as she thought deeply about how to not disappoint this beer snob.
Spoiler alert, Kelly knocked it out of the park.
Before I could even spark a conversation with my friend, four perfectly poured pints arrived in front of me with name tags hanging from the stems of the glasses: Ex-Port, Brett Triple, Spruce and Wench. Kelly began to go on-and-on about the different flavors associated with the beers. I was enthralled with her descriptions and seriously felt my heart flutter because of how well she knew the beer. Most bartenders I meet know a few beers well but Kelly knew every beer by heart.
Savannah, being less adventurous, ordered the Sour Wench, which was one of the pints I had in front of me.
We’ll start with that beer. The color was a vibrant and transparent maroon. It was translucent, allowing the light seeping into the restaurant to shine through. It smelled faintly of sweet fruit and wheat.
As I took a sip, I was confronted with a slight tart slap on my tongue. The Sour Wench reminded me of Trolli sour gummy worms; it was mostly sweet with a slight sour hint. This beer was definitely something I would recommend to those who are new to sour beers. It’s accessible, easy to drink and pleasurable.
The second beer I chugged was the Spruce Tip Sculpin IPA. Brewed with spruce tips from Oregon, this beer gave off a distinct aroma — herbal with a hint of minty zest laced into the citrus notes given off from the hops. Sipping this pint brought me back to the days when I would go on fishing trips with my high school friends. I could feel the breeze off the Mississippi River caressing my cheeks; I was at peace in those days. A faint woody note mixed with the cool mint from the spruce tips invoked a memory from my past. Perfection in a glass.
My third tasting was the black sheep of the group, the Experi-mint-al Porter. As the name alludes, this beer is a porter brewed with chocolate and peppermint. Smelling this beer was strange, unlike anything I expected from a porter. It was distinctly minty like a piece of gum waiting to be chewed. I took a sip and was transported to my childhood. I vividly remembered exploring Marshall Fields with my mother while eating Frango chocolates. This beer is exactly that, a Frango mint in liquid form.
To top my night off, I ended with the Brett Tripel. From the experience I have had with American Belgian-inspired beers, I believed I knew what I was in store for. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The smell was a familiar banana with hints of clove but the taste threw my palette into overdrive. I was introduced to a beer that provided me with funk and bitterness. Usually with Brett fermented beers they lose most of the hop flavoring due to the dryness and funk but this wasn’t the case. I was pleasantly surprised as I sipped away at this beer and delved into a deep conversation with my friend and our server.
Ballast Point is fantastic for those looking to explore their beer taste. The price point for a flight of four beers was $9 and liberally portioned food plates are anywhere between $15 to $20.
Ballast Point Brewing Co. is a brew pub that has to be put on your list. Visit their website www.ballastpoint.com/location/chicago/ and get information about new beers on tap and future events.