Calm Before The Storm
Ballast Point Brewing Company

Calm Before The StormCalm Before The Storm
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Style:
American Cream Ale
Ranked #19
ABV:
5.5%
Score:
87
Ranked #13,568
Avg:
3.9 | pDev: 9.74%
Reviews:
276
Ratings:
1,196
From:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
 
California, United States
Avail:
Rotating
Wants
  99
Gots
  355
SCORE
87
Very Good
Calm Before The StormCalm Before The Storm
Notes: Calm Before the Storm came from a quest for a warm weather alternative to our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Like its more robust cousin, we infuse a punch of flavor using cold brewed Caffé Calabria coffee and a hint of vanilla. But this time, we added it to a lighter-bodied golden cream ale. The end result is a surprisingly bright, coffee-forward beer that’s perfectly refreshing.

15 IBUs
Reviews: 276 | Ratings: 1,196 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mothmanscott
3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear pale amber with swirling particulates and some effervescence streaming, producing 2 fingers of off-white, foamy, shortlived head that leaves a respectable surface cap, collar ring & wispy lace. Aroma is perfumy coffee & vanilla swimming in cereal grains, pale malt & cream soda. Taste is vanilla, coffee, cream soda, toast/roast, a bit of nuttiness & thin chocolate. Moderately lasting afrertaste is mostly lightly bitter cream soda & coffee grounds. Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with moderate carbonation producing a prickly bite, a little slick, being dry & crisp in the finish.

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Photo of BucBasil
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

A: Poured from the 330ml bottle into a pint glass. Bought at an expat grocery store in Shanghai China. The beer is a solid orange color with a late foamy off-white head.

S: Malty and sweet with a little of the advertised vanilla but not really any coffee. Smells more bready than anticipated with a hint of brown sugar.

T: Bright and refreshing but the cream ale overpowers the coffee flavor, which isn't very noticeable. The beer does have a vanilla sweetness in the back along with a sweet malty character that is perhaps its most dominant note. Reminds me more of a cream soda with a little something extra added. This was surprising as many of the reviews said the coffee flavor was really strong, but I didn't get it. Kind of a letdown for me.

F: The beer is smooth with just a little kick of carbonation. Cream character is nice.

O: This seems to be a good summer beer, but the unique coffee aspect just didn't happen. There was some vanilla and a touch of sweetness which made it a little different, but not enough for me to go for it again.

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BucBasil from South Carolina, Aug 20, 2017
Photo of briandschorr
4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My wife is watching Ellen so I'm trying some BP today. What can I say? Another great beer from BP. The look: great. There is a reddish-orange color and the nose is vanilla and coffee. A decent one-finger head. The taste follows the nose. The bitterness is slight, which I like, and the feel is smooth, medium bodied and full of carbonation. not the best that BP has ever put out but this is still a beer worth a try.

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briandschorr from North Carolina, Aug 18, 2017
Photo of Boto
3.52/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle: This one pours a clear, amber color. There was about a finger of an off white head that didn’t linger or leave any lacing. Lighter nose. Definitely a whiff of coffee. Not too much else getting by the coffee. Decent enough tasting. Medium bodied caramel malts with a bit of coffee flavor. Maybe a hint of vanilla. OK, but nothing to make it memorable.

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Boto from Connecticut, Jul 06, 2017
Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This was poured into a pint glass. The appearance was a nice looking transparent hazy burnt orange to ruddy yellow color. A one finger white foamy head started and glided gently into the beer. Lacing was semi-sticky and mostly messy in its arrangement around the glass. The smell had a nice sweet vanilla rolling into a light bitter to sweet cocoa and a sly bitter coffee bean to balance. The taste was sticky sweet with the vanilla taking hold to gloss over the sweet contour of the cocoa. Light bitter coffee beans come back nicely. A smooth sweet vanilla/coffee aftertaste rolls into the finish. On the palate, this one sat about a light to medium on the body with a really nice sessionability about it. Carbonation runs nice and smooth underneath. Not as creamy on my tongue, but nice. Overall, for a cream ale, this one is a bit different, mostly hits the marks of the style.

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Photo of Antg8989
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

By far the best cream ale I've ever had. Coffee and vanilla on the nose as well as on the palette. Pours surprisingly orange with no head, although this has been sitting in the fridge for a while. Would pick up again if I'm trying to change things up.

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Antg8989 from New Jersey, Jun 24, 2017
Photo of WoodBrew
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I bought this beer off the single shelf at Binnys. The beer poured a clear golden with white head that is not leaving any lace. The scent carried coffee and vanilla and the mix almost gave a peppery note. The taste was coffee leaning with vanilla latte finish. The mouthfeel was lighter in body with good carbonation. Overall it's interesting.

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Photo of AmeriCanadian
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Nice cream ale, vanilla-heavy (which I like), providing a definitive cream soda experience. Not a lot of breadth or depth of aroma or taste, but an easy sipper to be sure.

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AmeriCanadian from Tennessee, Feb 06, 2017
Photo of Nugganooch
3.94/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle – Imperial Nonic glass
First noted 10/04/15

Golden blonde body with a nice refined brightness. Dense cloud of taupe colored cream hangs true for some time before finally residing back into the glass. Large globs of stick hang on to the glass walls in a random pattern. Smells like a vanilla latte. Like stepping foot into Caffé Calabria for the first time. A rush of fresh earthy roasted beans with a vanilla cream sweetness and some mildly toasted and nutty malted grains. The flavor follows suit with a showcase of gourmet Calabria roast. Super fresh, earthy, and slightly nutty with a sweet vanilla essence to balance. Low actual perceived bitterness and a very smooth texture on the palate. Moderate to light in body with a dry lasting finish.
A solid attempt at this new found style. Might as well join them right. Probably not a regular for my personal line up but cool to grab every now and then.

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Nugganooch from California, Jan 05, 2017
Photo of Oopssorryy
4.09/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a beautiful amber gold, with an ample off white head. The head didn't last, disappearing eniterly in about five minutes, with nonexistent lacing. The body of the beer is perfectly clear, show casing a large amount of vigorous carbonation. The nose is dominated by black coffee. There is a nutty sweetness, and a very genital vanilla tone serves as backdrop to the coffee forward scent.

The flavor profile is actually lighter on the coffee than I was expecting. While it's definitely there at all stages of the tasting experience, it is often times supplanted by a lovely nut profile. The flavor is also much more bitter than the nose initially lets on. There is sweetness to be found here though, right as you swallow a small burst of a creamy sweetness pulls through. This quickly becomes a background flavor, being overtaken by a coffee bitterness, but it is this sweetness, combined with the nutty flavors that coats the tongue.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium bodied and full of carbonation. The carbonation is tightly controlled however, making for a uniform drinking experience. Overall a great beer, and one I'd revisit in the future.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
3.39/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2015 vintage; drank 8/23/15 @ the Yarchives.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

See-through orange appearance.

A rough pour yielded a huge eggshell head; strong, frothy lace.

Black coffee & rich vanilla notes in the nose.

Creamy medium mouthfeel.

Burnt coffee & cream flavors up front; a macro creamed corn note on the finish. This smelled pretty damn good, but the flavor was abrasive. I think I've had my last one.

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GuyFawkes from Illinois, Dec 30, 2016
Photo of vette2006c5r
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Calm before the storm pours a golden color with very little head. Aroma is a creamy coffee smell. Taste is crisp with big fresh coffee flavors. Good feel. Overall a nice different coffe front beer.

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vette2006c5r from Minnesota, Dec 24, 2016
Photo of garymuchow
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Decided to try this to give it a homebrew go related to a local charity event/contest.
KInd of uninspiring. I've had coffee in vienna lagers and that seems to work better. The sweetness and bitterness from that base beer seems to go better. However, there is nothing particularly wrong with this. The coffee is prominent but not overpowering. The vanilla shows as it warms. Nice looking with a dark golden body and quite clear and a full white head. Drinks appropriate for style and fully carbonation. Pleasing.

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garymuchow from Minnesota, Dec 12, 2016
Photo of The_Snow_Bird
3.02/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours a clear orangish color with a small white head on top. Has a malty coffee smell. Can definitely taste the coffee with a hint of vanilla and sugar.

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Photo of GreatHammerhead
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Look: Golden yellow with a white two finger head that rapidly diminishes until it is just covering the top of the beer.

Smell: malts followed by rich dark black coffee overtones.

Taste: Dark coffee and vanilla notes up front followed by the lighter malt ale flavors. Little to no hop flavor or bitterness.

Feel: Thin and not very carbonated. Very easy to drink and yet with the dark coffee flavors it seems like it should be thicker.

Overall: It's weird, they seem to have nailed the style and the flavors are just as advertised and yet they just don't seem to jive in my opinion.

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GreatHammerhead from Pennsylvania, Nov 20, 2016
Photo of Birdgang88
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very crisp, light ale that hits the back of your tongue with a subtle flavor of oak and vanilla. This went down too fast, I need more. Cheers! Very refreshing

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Birdgang88 from Delaware, Nov 05, 2016
Photo of Franziskaner
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Gold in color with a moderate amount of sediment suspended within. There's a fingernail of beige resting on top. I smell bitter coffee and vanilla. I'm tasting very aggressive coffee and vanilla follows closely behind. There's light malt in the mix. The mouth is very creamy and moderately quaffable.

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Franziskaner from Missouri, Oct 16, 2016
Photo of DM1293
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle.

Has an interesting color of orange, slight copper sheen, saw bits of possible yeast floating in the beer. Thin head, bit of fizzy bubbles. Smell was similar to a porter, with the vanilla and chocolate sort of notes coming up. Taste had a solid vanilla note, but not much else going on there. Bit thin on the mouth overall too. The floating bits make me wary that this may have been going skunked, but as it stands, this is still a surprisingly hearty but refreshing beer. I'll give it another try in the future to make sure.

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DM1293 from California, Oct 11, 2016
Photo of Ciocanelu
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear, golden color with off-white head. Aroma has green coffee beans, some vanilla and also a slight acrid/acidic note. Taste starts with cacao beans and fresh vanilla beans, some acidity that maybe comes from the coffee or even the malts, but it's not really bothering. Very balanced overall, neither sweet nor bitter. Light body with crisp carbonation. Overall it's an interesting beer but the coffee and vanilla don't really mix so well with such a light beer.

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Ciocanelu from Romania, Sep 28, 2016
Photo of biboergosum
3.94/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, part of the increasingly egregiously priced sixers this brewery's stuff is showing up in lately around here.

This beer pours a clear, bright medium copper yellow colour, with four fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and creamy off-white head, which leaves some layered streaky lace around the glass as things slowly bleed out of sight.

It smells of acrid espresso coffee beans, wood smoke, gritty and grainy pale malt, dried vanilla beans, and an indistinct vegetal bitterness. The taste is heavy vanilla cream, bready and doughy caramel malt, cafe-au-lait, more latent smokiness, and some plain leafy, weedy, and floral green hop bitters.

The carbonation is adequate in its supportive and sometimes palate-tickling frothiness, the body a decent middleweight, and mostly smooth, with a small aerosol creaminess arising as things warm up a tad. It finishes trending dry, like a cup of coffee who's cream component has run out surprisingly early.

Overall, this is one slick and sassy vanilla and coffee strafed offering, with the base cream ale essentially rendered into oblivion - without looking at it, one could easily consider this to be a milk stout. At any rate - tasty and endearing, for what it purports to be, which is a relatively tamer version of their headier Victory at Sea Imperial Porter.

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biboergosum from Alberta (Canada), Sep 28, 2016
Photo of gatornation
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a golden yellow color with a 2 finger white head. Nice smells of coffee,vanilla with and light vanilla chocolate . taste had light coffee first with a vanilla mocha addition. mouth feel was like a lager sweet creamy with vanilla some coffee and dryness in the finish. had this on tap , would n ot want six of these but worth a try if you see it.

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gatornation from Minnesota, Sep 06, 2016
Photo of Big_BEARD87
4.99/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is an exceptional brew once again from the folks at ballast point pours a very nice golden color nice head that hangs around nose was very much coffee with just the right hint of vanilla flavor upfront is 100% coffee then just the perfect amount of vanilla sweetness will be enjoying this over and over if you are a beer and a coffee lover such as myself you will absolutely love this brew

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Photo of woodychandler
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Having gotten another Watermelon Wednesday in the books, I have decided to stick with my cousin's (Colby ChANdler, specialty brewer @ Ballast Point) wares & try something else from him that I have not reviewed. My hope is that they will eventually abandon bottles altogether and switch to CANs.

From the bottle: "Dedicated to the Craft".

I Pop!ped the cap & performed a heavy-handed pour that raised two-plus fingers of dense, rocky, eggshell-white head with decent retention. The heat & humidity this summer is killing all of us. Color was solid Amber (SRM = > 7, < 9) with NE-quality clarity. Nose was unmistakably coffee, but I reserve my right to dislike other peoples' versions of coffee as a U.S. Navy retiree. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was initially nothing but coffee, but as I rolled it around on my tongue, the vanilla sweetness began to exert itself. It made for an interesting mélange of flavors, but I was not enamored of it. The coffee flavors were not strong enough, the vanilla got in the way of the coffee & I am just an old curmudgeon. Finish was semi-dry, but without the intrusive vanilla, it could have been dry. I do not know that I want either a dry or semi-dry Cream Ale, but if they put it in a CAN, I will happily revisit this one. Otherwise, sorry, cuz, but this was not my speed.

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woodychandler from Pennsylvania, Aug 17, 2016
Photo of DoubleJ
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Ballast Point thinks outside the box with this cream ale. The way that it is marketed, it looks like the summer compliment to Victory at Sea. Out of a 12 ounce bottle, on to the beer:

This beer is bright golden colored like a helles lager, topped with an inch of foamy head. Head retention is on the mark, leaving a few spots of lace. The smell of coffee is apparent, and so is a note of vanilla. Slightly sweet at the base. Not too heavy in overall intensity.

Calm Before the Storm delivers that coffee and vanilla punch is a light, manageable package. The coffee and vanilla notes compliment and are center stage of the beer. There is a cream ale base that is taste which is clean, crisp, and brings light grassy and cream sweet flavor to hold the adjuncts together. Its light body and refreshing aftertaste help round out a very drinkable ale.

A summer beer with coffee and vanilla, and actually delivers something I would be happy to drink all summer. How about that?

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DoubleJ from Wisconsin, Aug 14, 2016
Photo of jjamadorphd
1.92/5  rDev -50.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I have looked so forward and for so long to try a Ballast Point offering - unfortunately, this particular brew was sadly disappointing.

Pours a decent colored beer with yellow highlights, very little head and just a small amount of lacing. That's about all the good I can say. For me, this beer just didn't do it for me. Touted as a cream ale, I could only smell the cream and taste it, but only distantly, barely even. What it smelled and tasted like to me, again sadly, was like an ashtray. Simply disappointing and honestly awful. I am not the type of guy to drain pour a beer - I never have. But this beer came very, very close to being my first.

Nonetheless, it will not deter me from trying other Ballast Point offerings as I am told these folks are good at what they do.

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Calm Before The Storm from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 1196 ratings