Ballast Point Big Gus IPA 355ml

John ShearlockApr 27, '22
Sometimes it all just works, right? The name, the branding, the beer… it all just comes together and seems so right that you wonder how any other version could possibly exist.

I’ve always felt like this with Ballast Point. The name is clever - suggestive but mysterious and open to different interpretations, a bit like the logo; a sextant that looks more like a strangely malevolent mask with two expressionless eye sockets. Even the nautical and fishing theme, rampant throughout the beers, is bizarrely attractive… and this is from a man who has never fished in anger in his entire life (actually, can you fish in anger??).

So, saying this, it feels odd to confess that I’ve tried very few of their beers. I was virtually made to taste the Grapefruit Sculpin by the beer experts around me who knew it for its worth, when I first started a career in the drinks industry, and Victory at Sea has sailed my way on a few occasions. But that’s about it - shocking I know!

Sometimes this happens. A producer’s name becomes so synonymous with one or two beers that their others can be overlooked. You find yourself walking to the beer fridge of your local store with tunnel vision for a beer by a certain producer and, when the beer you had hoped for doesn’t happen to be there, all others seem to melt into the ether. And what a shame. Here’s a producer you admire so much, busting his or her gut to get an interesting diversity of ever changing ingenious brews into your hands, and how do you repay them? It’s just not good enough. So, in this theme I deliberately did not choose the Grapefruit Sculpin to write about today but Big Gus, which comes in a tidy looking can with, yep, you’ve guessed it - a fish on it. Let’s see what flavours we can reel in….

Wow, an intriguing pale anemic gold colour that is super clear in the glass and with a nose that follows suit. It almost comes across as a pilsner, with sherbet-like, citrus notes and mineral hints. The sherbet feel carries through into the palate which is effortlessly light but still packing a heap of hops in the finish. This is super dry but not angular or sharp, it’s clean and crisp with a lingering melon like quality on the finish too that leaves a feeling of refreshment. It’s a big IPA that’s been on an Atkins diet and is now all lean muscle… or perhaps a Pilsner on steroids, I can’t quite decide, but it’s lovely stuff.

So there we go, proof that we need to venture off the well-beaten track sometimes and try things new, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones… after all, this is basically the essence of craft brewing.