Navigator - Brandy Barrel-Aged | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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59 Ratings

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: German Doppelbock

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Floydster on 10-29-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 59 |  Reviews: 36
Reviews by Oneinchaway:
Photo of Oneinchaway
5/5  rDev +22.9%

More User Reviews:
Photo of BenHesk12
3.27/5  rDev -19.7%
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.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.87/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of nickd717
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of Gmann
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of dvmin98
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of VeganUndead
3.67/5  rDev -9.8%
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

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Photo of aholzer33
4.67/5  rDev +14.7%
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

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Photo of docoman
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

I think the BBA brings out some some flavor and of course smell for this dopplebock. Definitely work a sample.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.34/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

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Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
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.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.49/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was honestly surprised that there was still some of this on tap at Teresa's today when I stopped in to pick up some other stuff for a trade. I had tried the Barrel Aged Sea Monster and Victory at Sea during the Ballast Point Brunch, and I was lucky enough to happen upon another opportunity to try this phenomenal brew.

Poured into a 10.5 oz tulip that flares outwards at the top. Dark dark brown, nearly black. I can tell that it isn't black though, because I can make out a ruby hue around the edges. Head disappears in seconds to non-existant, and there is no lacing.

Smell brings tons of sweet malts in the smell. Dark fruits...plums, dates, figs...also brandy, vanilla, and an abundance of toffee.

Vanilla and toffee are immediately evident and abundant, as the smell would lead on. These flavors combine beautifully with the brandy flavors to complement the rich malty flavor of the doppelbock base. The dark malts pull in the fruits and caramel flavors. Alcohol sneaks its way into the swallow, and even though it is discrete, you can tell that this beer is stacked. My description really doesn't do this justice. The complexities of this beer are like nothing I have experienced before. I can't tell if it is just the flavor combination, or the fact that there is SO much going on in this beer.

Smooth and crisp with a light tingle from carbonation. Body is medium to heavy, but the alcohol makes it feel heavier. Overall, a delectable beer with great complexity, and it is one that I definitely enjoyed drinking.

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Photo of danwho
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Kaiser81
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of cbutova
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

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Photo of jgap
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taster at the home brew mart. Pours a light brown with a little lace that fades to nothing. Smell is huge brandy. Lots and lots of brandy followed by a strong sweetness. Taste is sweet up front followed by a boozy brandy, VERY boozy. This lingers for a while and fades back into the sweetness of ripe fruit, dried prunes, and caramel. little carbonation but great mouthfeel. Great taste- wonderful beer! One of the most drinkable barrel aged beers I've had and one of the best smelling beers I've ever encountered

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Photo of HeyItsChili
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

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Photo of wattershed
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of humulusphile
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of notchucknorris
3.68/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

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Photo of radioscooter
4.03/5  rDev -1%
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.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Ballast Point Home Brew Mart. The beer is dark brown with a fluffy head and some nice lacing. Aroma is of toasted caramel malt with a hint of chocolate. Dark fruits (plums and grapes) are evident. The brandy is the most notable characteristic...and I'm a sucker for beer with brandy attributes. I don't know the ABV but the alcohol is pretty apparent. The flavor is rich toasted malt and the aforementioned dark fruits. The brandy is pretty damn strong in the beer and it's great. The finish is long and mostly sweet brandy. Medium carbonation.

Surprisingly, this style lends itself well to Brandy barrel aging. I really enjoyed this offering from Ballast Point. Did I mention the Brandy?

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Navigator - Brandy Barrel-Aged from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.07 out of 5 with 59 ratings