My first-ever craft beer: Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale

I was going through my Multiply account from several years ago and came across an album from the first time I tried Charlie’s Grind and Grill, as well as (unknowingly, at the time) my first American craft beer – Ballast Point’s Calico Amber Ale (note the phased-out label design). Back then, Charlie’s was a chore to get to, and one had to brave Ortigas-bound traffic just to reach the place. The burgers were also without comparison at the time. It’s sad how much the quality of the food there has regressed, considering that it used to be my Holy Grail of all burgers. On the subject of craft beer, on the other hand, I was uninitiated and blissfully ignorant, and as may be read below, could not appreciate the flavors yet. I did not even know what hops were at the time, and now, they’re my best friend (so to speak). Here’s what I had to say about the Calico three years ago:

I chose the Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale (P200, imported by Global Beer Exchange Ph) to push down the Black Angus Burger. The beer was okay for me. Definitely more flavorful than even anything produced locally, but slightly more bitter than what Pinoys are used to. However, even for me, who just loves bitter drinks (dark coffee and beer, anyone?) I found the balance of bitterness and sweetness a bit off. I guess I was taken aback because it didn’t seem like a heavy beer like European brews, but it felt like the taste wasn’t really coming out. Alcohol-wise, it didn’t really do much for me, unlike the Erdinger buzz that got me happy yesterday right before Legal Profession class. For some reason, the beer when poured barely had a head, which may have contributed to the lack of taste coming out. I guess I have to learn to pour properly. (For those only used to San Mig Light, the head of the beer is the fizz that goes on top when poured, and it usually adds a different dimension to the beer. It’s not all air, except when it’s SML you’re drinking and it tastes like rusty water.)

Well, nowadays, I find that that amber ales such as the Calico are not as hoppy or bitter as I would like, and more sweet than anything. At the time, dark beer was heavy and light-colored beer was light, and that was all she wrote. At least I can claim to not be a pretentious beer snob because of my distaste for San Mig Light even before my official initiation into beer appreciation. I think it was really quite serendipitous that I discovered The Tasting Room last year at the time that I did. It was the perfect confluence of different factors in my life, both good and not-so-good, that all turned out for the best (I’ll leave that purposefully vague).

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