The names Ballast Point and Sculpin are seemingly interchangeable, if you say one, you almost immediately think of the other. Sculpin was kind of one of those magical, almost once-in-a-lifetime creations where everything fell into place and out of some world-class home brewing, came this world-class beer.
“It all goes back to our homebrewing roots, we opened Home Brew Mart in 1992 and we still run the same location, the same homebrew store. At the time I was running the store with George Cataulin, he was the manager, and I was running the little 15-barrel brewhouse behind it, that was kind of the original Ballast Point brewhouse, we were pumping out newer recipes and Sculpin was around that time. At the time George and Doug Duffield were prolific home brewers, they were winning a lot of medals,” Colby Chandler, Vice President and Specialty Brewer at Ballast Point, said. “I always kind of joke as a good manager I wanted to steal some ideas from my employees and kind of looked at their recipes and even though they weren’t brewing together, they were drinking a lot of beer together, they were brewing very similar beers and I kind of just combined the ingredients that were exactly the same in the two recipes and I sprinkled in a little bit of my knowledge on the bigger brewhouse and some new techniques and I just wanted to get those guys on the brewhouse and get them on a little bigger system and eventually take their beer back to O’Brien’s and share their beer with the customers.”
While the original Sculpin will always be a true original in the beer industry, Ballast Point has grown the Sculpin family with some tasty additions. The Grapefruit Sculpin really sets the bar for any grapefruit beer as the slight tartness that is added just seems to enhance the original citrus and hoppiness of Sculpin. Sculpin also created and Unfiltered Sculpin which is a little less bitter than the original and brings in some extra flavors such as fresh apricot, peach, mango and lemon to complete this hazy and fresh beer. The recently released Aloha Sculpin was created using brux trois yeast, giving it tropical notes without any fruit added. Finally, the Pineapple Sculpin sticks with the tropical flavor or the original, but the pineapple gives this the biggest pop of sweetness of all the varieties.
“Quality was always a big issue with us, back in the day it was mostly with our pallet, that was our quality lab. But now we have grown up and we are investing in all this amazing lab equipment and amazing people to run that equipment, it’s fun when you go to other states or Australia and you drink a Ballast Point product and it is equally as good as it is in San Diego,” Colby said.
Ballast Point has grown in every possible way. From their beginnings in San Diego, now you can find them in Virginia, Chicago, Temecula and the breathtaking location overlooking Alamitos Bay in Long Beach. The Long Beach location opened in 2016 and it did not take long for this location to become an instant success. Long Beach has two floors including a deck that overlooks the Bay and has a bar upstairs and two more downstairs as well as a store. You are certainly never going to go very long without a beer and your only dilemma will be which beer to choose as Ballast Point Long Beach not only has all your standard favorites, but they have plenty of new and unique beers.
Ballast Point is always creating and they take that creativity to another level as they do a “roots to boots” employee brewing program at their Little Italy location. They get five cross departmental employees together and they brew a beer down and see what they come up with. In addition Colby gets to collaborate with other brewers as he recently did with Castle Island Brewing Company from Boston, as they combined to create a Sculpin inspired hazy double IPA.
“I’ve learned that change is pretty much the only constant at Ballast Point and without change there is no ability to give opportunity. One of my favorite things as brewer is to share, you have to love to share the product, now we share it around the world and inspire a lot of people along the way. Now with the brew pubs around the country we can give everyone the experience, they can come in and try all the beers that we make throughout the year and kind of give them that San Diego experience no matter where you are.”
Ballast Point has not only grown in terms of the amount and variety of beers that they produce as well as locations, they have also created some fantastic food for you to pair with your beers. You could start with the namesake Ballast Point Burger that is made with 100% American Wagyu Beef and then venture off to items such as grilled cauliflower, their amazing wings, Wahoo steamed mussels or the barbacoa tacos. Then if you want to finish your night off in glorious beer fashion, order the chocolate and cherry bread pudding that is made with Sextant on Nitro and beer soaked cherries.
Ballast Point has become an iconic name in the beer industry, but they have managed to take that name and turn it into so much more. From an amazing story of some home brewers that created something truly special, to taking that beer and turning it into something much more. There is a beer for everyone and if you aren’t sure, just ask and Ballast Point can guide you to a beer that will appease your palate. If you are looking for more than a beer and you want an experience, any of the Ballast Point locations will give you a truly great experience no matter what you have in mind.
“That is the beauty about coming to our locations, no matter what city you are in, our staff does tons of training, everyone that is their really knows everything about the beers, the r&d facilities put out about two to three new beers per week. We are constantly educating and the menu is always changing. What I have always loved about Ballast Point and it goes back to our home brewing roots is that we have all styles of beers. Especially at our locations, we will have 40 to 60 beers on tap. It is fun to find out what type of drinks the customer likes, what type of wine do they drink, I always joke that when people come into Ballast Point and say ‘I don’t like beer’ I’ve never had anyone leave that did not find a Ballast Point beer that they didn’t like because we do such a huge array of beers. As soon as I find that person that I can’t find a beer for, I will admit defeat,” Colby said.
Ballast Point continues to grow and will soon be adding a new brewery, tasting room, kitchen and outdoor beer garden at Downtown Disney District.
For more information, visit: Ballast Point
(Photos Courtesy Stephan Martin)
(Video Courtesy Ballast Point)