Brewery Feature: Ballast Point Chicago
The first time I heard about Ballast Point, I was living in Michigan and I remember my friends talking about this new California brewery that was going to be distributing in the Midwest. I automatically went to the store and picked up their Sculpin IPA. It was fantastic even coming from someone who didnt like beer at the time. Since then, they've expanded both their reach and the beer selection. For those of you in Chicago, you're now able to experience a little piece of San Diego, right in the west loop!
The new West Loop taproom is conveniently located right off the Morgan pink line stop. Which makes it an easy destination in both rain and shine. I hear that they are opening a rooftop soon so that will definitely be a sunny day staple for me! I was lucky enough to be invited to a beer dinner before it opened to the public. Here's a summary of what went down!
First Course: Roasted Beet Salad
Soooo, I am not fancy in the way I eat...AT ALL. So when I came to this dinner and saw that there was beets on the menu I was a little freaked out. The idea of putting beets, strawberries and pecans all in the same bowl was mind blowing. Sure enough, the dish came together beautifully. It was paired with Sea Rose, their tart cherry wheat ale. I really loved how the tartness of the beer cut right through the sweet, heavy flavors of the beets and strawberry. The Sea Rose also had a nice dry finish that really complemented the flavors of the salad.
Second Course: North Carolina Soft Shell Crab
Sooo funny story, when this plate first arrived I literally had to ask people if I could eat the pinchers haha! I've never had crab let alone soft shell crab before. It was SUCH a treat! The crabs were flown in that morning from North Carolina and it really showed in the flavor. The crab was lightly battered with beer batter made from Ballast Point's California Kolsch. It was on a bed of fresh ground rice, topped with squid ink and a sunny side up egg. I loved the way the complex flavors combined. It was paired with Wahoo White, one of my personal favorite beers by them. I really enjoyed the way that the citrus and coriander came together in a classic white beer. It was a nice grounding factor with the complexity coming from the crab dish. Delicious!
Third Course: Santa Maria California Style Tri Tip
OH my goodness! This steak was so perfectly done! The chimichurri and lime really just took this west coast staple to a whole new level. I loved the Mexican street corn topping and the bed of fingerling potatoes. Everything came together so well and honestly made me feel like I was sitting in an ocean side cafe in Cali (even though it was pouring rain!) It was paired with Tongue Buckler Imperial Red. If you're looking for a beer with high IBUs and a ton of flavor, this is the one. The caramelization on the steak somehow tamed the bitterness on the Tongue Buckler and made for a really enjoyable experience!
First dessert: Victory at Cereal Panna Cotta
Oh my goodness, this dessert was to die for! It was so creamy and packed with chocolate, coffee goodness! The little marshmallow puff on top was like the cherry on top, I saved it for the last bite and it was the best decision ever! It was paired with High West Barrel Aged Victory at Sea, which is basically dessert on its own! It matches the flavor of the panna cotta with its own vanilla and coffee. Love the light boozy flavors that the High West bourbon barrel gives the beer.
Second dessert: Strawberry Shortcake
First of all this cake was melt in your mouth delicious! Not overly sweet but the honey bubbles on top made the strawberry flavor pop just enough. Loved the touch of pistachios that added a nice little flavor complexity that elevated the dessert to more than just a strawberry shortcake. They ended the night with a bang by pairing the strawberry shortcake with not one but two beers! This one was paired with Ginger Big Eye and Red Velvet NITRO. The Ginger Big Eye served as a nice palate cleanser and cut through the sweetness of the dessert. I wasn't a big fan of it on its own, but that's because I don't like ginger haha! I really loved the pairing of Red Velvet with the cake. It added a hint of chocolate covered strawberries on the aftertaste. Not to mention, the nitro made it sooo smooth and a great way to end the meal!
What is your favorite Ballast Point Beer?