Navigator - Brandy Barrel-Aged
Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Bock - Doppelbock
4.08 | pDev: 10.05%
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Reviews: 36 | Ratings: 59 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of VeganUndead
VeganUndead from Virginia

3.67/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Brew American Gastropub, Bellgrade Midlothian location. I prefer the regular to this barrel variant, just don't think the balance is quite there and the brandy is not prevalent

Dec 17, 2015
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BenHesk12 from California

3.27/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I admit that I don't drink brandy and probably don't have the necessary acquired tastes to appreciate this type of beer, but I can say that this was one of the most intense barrel aged beers I've ever tried. This beer is incredibly tart and tastes like biting into a brandy soaked piece of bitter wood.I couldn't even tell that this was a dopplebock--it just tasted like concentrated smokey grape esters. I love a good bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, but this wasn't even the same territory. If you LOVE brandy and beer, you might like this brew otherwise think twice before ordering a full glass.

Feb 18, 2015
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Tap and Mallet in Rochester, NY.

Pours a dark clear amber, with a little bit of lacing, and a half inch head.

Smells very strongly of sweet and nutty brandy, dark fruits, raisins, and a bit of caramel.

I've never had the regular Navigator, but without having that, I can safely guess that the brandy barrel aging really elevated this one. There's a really significant brandy presence that's really well integrated into the base doppelbock. The base beer provides some nice dark fruits, sweet caramel, and toffee, along with barrel-derived vanilla and a small amount of oak.

This is medium bodied, thick, but not overly so. It's slightly syrupy, with a lower level of carbonation.

This is a really well done barrel aged beer. The brandy notes really do go well with the dark fruit character of the base beer.

Jan 22, 2015
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DoubleJ from Wisconsin

3.28/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Slater's 50/50 (Liberty Station), on to the beer:

This one arrived with plenty of anticipation, but lots of booze in the beers character took the beer down a few levels. The russet brown color with solid head retention was fine. The nose was fumes of alcohol mixed with lots of malt and raisins. It didn't quite have the super high level of booze as the aroma; there's enough of the body, consisting of raisins, touches of brandy, and some sweet bread, to overcome the booze. Nearly full bodied and boozy. It's alright, not what I had hoped I would taste. Good thing I stayed away from flammmable objects afterwards.

Jul 12, 2012
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xnicknj from Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at tapestry in philly

Pours a semi-clear cherry/caramel color with some slight haze in the glass. Fluff of off-white head rests on top, leaving patches of lacing behind while retaining through some of the pour.

Stiff scents of brandy soaked wood and alcohol induced sweetness. Touches of cherry and raisin with some burnt sugar. Nice malt hints with a touch of vanilla.

Begins with dark fruits and raisin on the tongue. The barrel character is potent, but well integrated, mixing in vanilla and brandy with dark fruits and sugar. Touches of caramel and molasses flow into the malt backbone. Finishes boozy and warm with some lingering sweetness.

Decent medium body, well carbonated, slick and smooth on the tongue. Drinks really nicely, one of my favorite BP barrel aged offerings thus far.

Feb 07, 2012
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thecheapies from Pennsylvania

3.57/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Here we go...

Beautiful clear maroon body with a still, flat cap. Looks light for a doppelbock, but it could be the tumbler.

Mild aromas. Bock smells. Dark bread, fruity yeast elements, some barrel (I believe the brandy).

There's a ton of oak in the forefront. Big brandy with residual sugars and poppyseed roll. Bready, beastly with booze, and big on caramel. Bigger flavor, smaller complexity. A little overdone.

Medium-heavy body. Medium-light carb. Terribly boozy for 8%.

I loves me a brandy-barrel aged ale, but this one was huge when it didn't need to be. Still worth ordering when ya see it.

Jan 15, 2012
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radioscooter from Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a 4 oz sampler of this at Bocktown.

This is by far my favorite offering from Ballast Point thus far.

Was excited by the idea of a brandy-aged Dopplebock.

Appearance and smell are all is as it should be. Medium, nutty tea brown tone, minimal head. Came out of the tap too cold to really give off a strong smell, but what's there is good.

Nice, round mouthfeel. Smooth.

Taste is vanilla, malty, doppelbock with a bit more booze from the brandy taste. The brandy is discernible but not enough to kill or negatively impact the bock taste, which is forward as it should be. Way less of a malt bomb than I expected.

There's a slight aftertaste, that I'm thinking is due to it being draft. It has a little bit if that 'on-tap' thing that brings the preservative taste up front. I suspect it would be absent with a bottle version.

Worth a taste for sure.

Nov 15, 2011
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Stinkypuss from Pennsylvania

3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ballast Point : Navigator (Brandy Barrel Aged)

Pours a ruby brown color with off white, short livid head. In the aroma, brown sugar, molasses, brandy and malt sweetness. In the taste, vanilla, sugary malts, maple, vague suggestions of dark fruit, alcohol and brandy. Everything is well balanced, though there is little hop flavor beneath all of the complexities from the barrel aging. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, smooth and adequate carbonation. Overall, a tasty treat, and not so often do you find brandy barrel aged dopplebocks.

Nov 15, 2011
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notchucknorris from California

3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Ballast Point's Barrel Aged Day

A: Dark brown color with a 1/2 finger tan foam head.

S: I spent a while trying to figure out what it was that I was smelling. I guess it was brandy, but I got a lot of dark fruit and grape bubblegum. Kind of a strange smell but not entirely off-putting.

T: The taste was a little on the weak side with a good amount of brandy and some fairly muted malty notes. I feel like the brandy overwhelmed the beer a touch in this one. Still, not bad at all.

Nov 12, 2011
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cbutova from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Notes from San Diego trip.

A- Dark brown ale poured from the tap. A silky tan ring forms atop the beer but no real head. Lack of lace entirely.

S- Brandy bomb, a ton of plum/dark fruit brandy notes fly off the beer. Like something I would cook with. Sweet juicy, fruit brandy. Very strong aroma.

T- A bit more balanced with the actual beer flavors here. Again a ton of brandy though with brown sugar, banana and nutty hints backing it.

MF- Silky thick body with alcohol warmth. Sweet overall feel.

Brandy bomb with big dark plum notes throughout, it really picked up a lot from the barrel. Somewhat hidden Doppelbock backbone.

Oct 30, 2011
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augustgarage from California

3.87/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap @ Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood - served in a snifter.

Dark taupe (? - it's pitch black in this bar) body with a lasting finger of creamy film. Thick soapy lacing, nice retention.

Brandy is sharp in the nose - tons of candied fruit, plums, figs, etc.

The flavor follows the nose closely with dark fruit, moderate bitterness, substantial heat, and a malty finish all well integrated though the barrel takes over a bit.

Creamy, medium-bodied, a touch oily.

Really lacks the rich maltiness I associate with the style, and is devoid of melanoidins. Tasty it's difficult to downgrade too much for missing style notes.

Oct 30, 2011
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brokensail from California

3.9/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Oakquinox

A: The pour is a fairly dark amber color with a slight murkiness and a small off-white head.

S: Fair amount of brandy aroma with a nice dark fruit character. Sweet malt notes of caramel and toffee and a little bit of breadiness. There is a hint of boozy warmth, but some good vanilla and oak.

T: Nice brandy flavor with a touch of fruitiness to the beer. Some darker fruits like plums and black cherries, and sweet caramel malts. Oak and vanilla add a good flavor to the beer and enhance the brandy character.

M: Medium in body with a moderate level of carbonation.

O: I haven't had the best luck with Ballast Point barrel aged beers, but this was pretty solid.

Apr 24, 2011
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Gmann from New York

4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a chocolate brown color with a small airy tan head that quickly dissipates into nothingness. No residual head to speak of. The aroma is of a sweet malt, some candied cherries, some honey and pepper. Not as strong as I would have expected. The taste is much deeper than the aroma. A woody dark malt combines with some carob and chocolate notes. There is a candied dark fruit sweetness, mostly cherry or grape. The is a slight touch of a band aid alcohol vapor presence from the brandy barrel. The feel is light but not watery with prickly carbonation; sweet throughout on the palate with a bit of a belly burn from the ABV. This is a very tasty dopplebock, though it seems to be a bit thin and the abv needs some mellowing.

Note: The feel thickened as it warmed which helped give the brew a more robust feel and the head had some staying power, though still not a great appearance.

Dec 06, 2010
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kflorence from Texas

4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at URBN Pizza in North Park (San Diego, CA). A bit steep at $8 a glass, but at least it lived up to it's price tag!

A: Poured a dark, opaque brown (almost black) in color with a lovely inch of frothy, tan foam sitting on top. It was served in a goblet and looked very appealing.

S: One of the better smelling beers out there. You can definitely detect the brandy on the nose, but there is also a sweet malty overtone, some roast, dark fruits and a chocolate confection twang. On first sniff I would say almost a desert beer, but not quite. Brandy, alcohol and other deeper notes become more prominent as the beer warms.

T: Very pleasantly surprised at the flavor and balance of this beer. I expected it to be overly heavy and perhaps even a bit too strong for my tastes, but I was pleased to see that it was overall very enjoyable. You get the sweetness of the brandy without the astringent alcohol flavor, and it meshes very well with the malty, dark fruity and roasted backbone of a doppelbock. The original was very solid, but I think I might like this one a bit more.

M: Great body and carbonation levels in this one. Not overly syrupy, but definitely on the medium-heavy side. Very smooth.

D: While this is definitely a dark, higher ABV beer, it goes down surprisingly easy and isn't brutal on the stomach. Went great with the pizza, too.

Dec 01, 2010
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rtepiak from Poland

4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a beer that is for certain the end of the night. if beer is the deluded malty verision of hard liquor this is the evidence. this beer tastes and has the consistency of something that sat in brandy for long periods of time. nose is brown liquor. something that is about 12 percent but actually 8. not particularly warm though. nose is literally nothing but brandy... the palate is sort of warm and molasses. it is more brandy palate than doppelbock. great quality as a lager but the lager is deeply hidden.

this is the perfect autumn cooked duck beer. carmelized squash, apple, and the likes of autumn fare. some nutmeg would make it a pumpkin ale its so malt oriented.

Oct 29, 2010
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afksports from New York

4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad this one is still on tap at Washington Commons. (Where I'm five days from mayor, William G!).

Poured heady, but has little head retention, excellent lacing, nice deep amber/red appearance that looks dark as he'll in this dimly lit bar. Smell has hints of brandy- but I would disagree that it's dominating. Also oak and malts. Taste had a typical doppelbock rich and creaminess, and includes a biting sweetness of brandy with it. Pretty exceptional. Mouthfeel is medium to thick - sticks with style. Highly drinkable- you don't notice the alc and the sweetness makes it fun.

I'll come back for more, Washington Commons!

Update: End of glass sweetness overwhelming, toning down drinkability.

Oct 27, 2010
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Kaiser81 from California

4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Half pint at the Old Grove brewery location

A - Dark muddy brown with plum highlights. There is minimal head, and some nice lacing is left on my glass.

S - Brandy is noticeable, in fact, it kind of dominates the beer. I feel it's kind of one dimensional, as I can't get much else on the smell.

T - Malts and brandy blend nicely, but the brandy continues to dominate. There are nice floral notes on the finish.

M - Cab is nice, maybe slightly above medium. There's a nice heavy body with a nice and smooth finish.

D - Probably better than the original version, but not too much.

Aug 31, 2010
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paco1029384756 from Illinois

3.87/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, cloudy ruby color with a small off white head.

Scent of fruity raspberries, cherries, apples, sugar, caramel, port, chocolate truffles, and a hint of alcohol. A complex and fruity aroma with enough alcohol to keep it from being too much.

Taste of vanilla, oak, smoke, earth, light spice, raspberry, and a hint of chocolate truffle. Less fruity and more dry than the aroma; complex, rich and robust.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth and oily with a lightly pinching finish.

Jun 04, 2010
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gford217 from Georgia

4.69/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Ryan for this gem, a 22oz bomber from CBX.

Pours a deep, clear copper with a small creamy tan head that recedes quickly to a collar and leaves spotty lacing.

The aroma is as good as I've smelled for the style. The brandy character adds a perfect boozy, oaky edge to the underlying caramel malts, chocolate and dark fruits.

Holy smokes, the taste is as good as the aroma. So big and complex for a doppelbock. Chocolate covered cherries, caramel malts, smoke and then, whack, the brandy barrel just leaves the palate with an alcohol burn and woody dryness in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and super smooth with good carbonation - alcohol, wood, sweet stickiness, all together.

I have to say that this one just blew me away. The brandy barrel really adds to the complexity and this is honestly one of the best doppelbocks I've ever had. World class.

Mar 03, 2010
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aholzer33 from South Carolina

4.67/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first review, so naturally it had to be a brandy barrel aged Doppelbock, right!

A: 22oz. Bomber poured into a pint glass. Deep cherry mahogany. Cloudy, looks very intriguing and delicious.

S: The aroma is of a sweet cherry chocolate nectar with a hint of hard liquor smell. Intense aroma, but incredibly appealing

T: I didn't know what to expect from this beer. I though it was going to overpower my palate, but it goes down a lot smoother than I expected. Perfectly sweet and alcoholic balance. Brings that wonderful full flavor from a doppelbock and is so well complimented by the sweetness of the brandy. One the most delightful tastes I've received from any beer.

M: Wet, cold, smooth, everything I want from beer.

D: Only a four because it is such an intense flavor. Definitely not a beer I could drink all night. But one I would love to drink many more times for sure

Feb 05, 2010
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JISurfer from South Carolina

4.49/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm glad I sprung the extra cash for this one. Purchased a 22oz growler from CBE. I was told it was def a sipping beer, something that will take a little while to enjoy. Spot on. If you swill this, your wasting it. Not sure why you'd want to though. It's got so much going on, but it all works together fairly well.

The smell is rich and syrupy. Kind of a worchestshire, smoke, and light brandy. The warmer it gets, the more the different smells come out.

Taste was again syrupy, but also had a bitter sweet taste of dark fruits, ie plums and raisins. Still though, a little hint of the brandy in the finish.

Maybe one of the best beers I've had when it comes to mouthfeel. It completely coats your mouth and destroys everything in it's path. I like that you get the different tastes as it slides down your throat.

Very drinkable, but also very thick. It's a perfect beer for those cold winter nights in Charleston, when it dips down to 40.

If you have the chance to try this, do not pass it up. It's well worth the money.

Jan 23, 2010
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HeyItsChili from South Carolina

3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought from the Charleston Beer Exchange in a 22oz bomber specially bottled.

A - Dark, dark amber reminiscent of thick maple syrup. Extremely faint white head tops it off.

S - Dark, caramelized brown sugars mixing with a potent brandy sweet-pungent aroma.

T - The taste is sort of represented in graph form as a valley of sweetness/length of tasting. At first it seems pretty caramelly sweet, then dips into more powerful ABV territory, only to really blend into a more powerful sweetness with some really powerful alcoholic strength behind it.

M - A smidge sticky, a bit more than full bodied, really coats the mouth. Too gloppy and syrupy for the sweetness found here, IMO.

Jan 21, 2010
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Kegatron from Pennsylvania

4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft @ Ballast Point Linda Vista on 11/9/09 during their "Beer Meets Wood" event. Part of San Diego Beer Week.

Pours a very deep amber, with a medium covering of mocha colored foam. This peters out pretty quickly, leaving just the lighest amount of lacing behind. The aroma is quite malty in the nose overall, with plenty of cocoa and caramel being present. The brandy pulls up hard though in the backend of the profile, along with some strong oaky tannic character.

The taste starts with a strong sweetness (along with citric hop notes) from the Doppelbock, that splashes the tongue. The brandy flavor doesn't seem quite as strong at it did in the aroma, but then, yeah, it kicks ass big time in the finish of this, ending warm, sweet, and sticky, with an strong emerging dryness. The brandy actually seems to dominate the taste a bit too much. The mouthfeel is medium to fuller bodied, with a more bubbly feel in the mouth. Most of the warmth that is felt here, seems to be coming from that dominate brandy flavor.

Yeah, just a bit too overpowering with the brandy here but I was glad that the aroma was fairly balanced and the drinkibility of this remained good despite the heavy flavors. Another nice treat from Ballast Point.

Nov 30, 2009
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nickd717 from California

4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Hamilton's in San Diego, then again at the Bistro Barrel Aged Fest in Hayward. Oh, -bal aging, how you change a beer from something ordinary to something beer geeks will damn near kill for. A lot of people raved over this one. I thought it was a bit overdone personally.

Dark brown color with a medium sized tan head.

Aroma is dark fruits, caramel, licorice, and brandy. It really does smell great, that's for sure.

Flavor is caramel malt, raisin, and prune, vinous notes along with a huge brandy presence. A little too strong in my opinion. I'm docking this a bit on the score because I think the essence of the style is somewhat lost in the brandy barrel aging. This barrel stuff is a little overdone sometimes.

Palate is medium-full and smooth but a bit boozy.

Drinkability is pretty good despite the strong brandy presence, somehow.

EDIT: Had some notes from the Bistro fest that I failed to take into account earlier. This beer was a lot smoother this time - maybe a week of extra aging helped? Red wine, caramel, toffee, and vanilla stand out a lot more this time compared to before. Great dark fruits and caramel on the aroma. Brandy not as intense. Increasing rating accordingly.

Nov 18, 2009
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largadeer from California

4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank a bunch of this on tap with HopHead84 at Ballast Point's Homebrew Mart. He said this batch is different from previous incarnations, less brandy-dominated and more balanced. Whatever the case, this beer was phenomenal.

Pours a reddish-amber, dark but very clear and topped by a light tan head.

Brandy sweetness is prominent in the aroma, caramelly and lightly vinous. The doppelbock shines through, in perfect harmony with the bold barrel character. The German lager yeast is surprisingly noticeable beneath all the intense brandy, malt and fruitiness. There's very little heat from the barrel, just a mellow brandy aroma.

Evenly balanced between brandy barrel and fruity, chocolatey doppelbock flavors. Dark fruit meets sweet grapes and caramel. The barrel lends light tannins and a hint of vanilla. Medium-light bodied, surprisingly crisp and not at all heavy, this is complex but very drinkable. Finishes semi-dry with a sturdy hop bitterness and a hint of oak.

It's a shame this beer doesn't get around more, it's one of Ballast Point's better offerings that I've tried.

Nov 11, 2009
Navigator - Brandy Barrel-Aged from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 59 ratings