Navigator - Brandy Barrel-Aged
Ballast Point Brewing Company

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German 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
Reviews by taylorhamrick:
Photo of taylorhamrick
3.77/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Pours out an intensely dark brown, with just a bit of ruby highlights. I think its a little hazy, but it may just be the darkness. The head is minimal, and it diappears into nothing within just seconds, almost no lacing. The smell is immensely sweet and malty, with quite a big nose of wood and some brandy. Smells incredibly rich, with notes of vanilla, dark fruits, but very low esters. Mothfeel is incredible, let me get to that before taste, just full and chewy, creamy, moderate carbonation, warming alcohol, not too woody or brandy-y. Just perfect. The taste is taking me a minute to put together. Some caramelly, toffe, butterscotch sweetness and I definitely get the german malts - munich, pilsener, etc. The dark malts provide a burnt, roasted sweetness, not too harsh Tastes like a decent doopelbock underneath, full and sweet, but nothing that's really stand-out. Then comes the vanilla, mixed with the flavor of dry brandy, and brilliant woodiness, almost smoky. There's a lingering flavor that tends to dominate, the woody brandy flavor backed by a huge sweetness (I know those sound like a lot of things, but imagine them as one). Overall, I might compare this to a mixed drink with coca-cola and brandy. The burn slowly gets to you, which slows down the drinking, but I'm really enjoying this, at least for the rarity. It's so rich that it really kills me quickly, but I'm truly fascinated. I kept wanting more, but it's really tough with this beer to keep pouring it down. Slow, slow, drinker.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Gmann
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.

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Photo of atsprings
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After missing out on this one at The Pit I was pleasantly surprised to find it at Woody's. Served in an 8oz wine glass an almost opaque black with a thin light tan head. Aroma is nice crisp malts with a hint of oak. The taste is an amazingly complex blend of burnt caramel malts, dried fruits, oak and brandy that meld together nicely making this one of the best Doppelbocks I've ever had. The beer is slightly heavy, but makes for a smooth sipper. I certainly hope to be able to have this one again.

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Photo of largadeer
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.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this on tap at Teresa's Next Door.

A - Deep bronze w/ translucent clarity. The head is a thin ring of ecru shade w/ fine beading

S - Caramel w/ huge toffee sweet nose w/ plenty of alcohol aroma

M - A smooth yet viscous feel-relatively high carbonation giving a less sweet texture on the palate. A warming of brandy in the finish is evident and relatively high amount of sweetness w/ spice and residual sugar

T -A rich sweet caramel flavor w/ malt mixed w/ brandy and oak flavors in tandem right off w/ the alcohol high in the taste. A mild dark toast w/ spice which comes in before the sweet slightly brandy and malt flavored candy notes hit. The sweetness ripples with a mild woody element and lots of caramel after the swallow

D - A big bock- 8.9% which is seriously good combined w/ brandy barrel aging. I was glad I was able to try this since I never had Navigator before. The drinkablility is good, for a strong bock such as this. I would definitely sample this again if given the chance.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
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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Photo of Kegatron
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.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%

Photo of gford217
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.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.49/5  rDev +10%
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 augustgarage
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.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a dark red/maroon with a full-finger of off-white head, good lacing.

S: Definite vinous notes, brown sugar, candied cherries.

T: Fantastic flavour, the best beer I've had from Ballast Point. The flavour of the brandy (grape, strawberry, fig) melds very well with the dopple base, the flavours of the beer and the spirit really complement each other, a great creation. Reminds me a bit of Brandy Barrel Angel's Share at times.

M: Very smooth, relatively light on the tongue, silky from the brandy notes and alcohol.

D: Simply a great beer, I had to get another serving before I left. I feel bad that I may never have it again. A must try if available.

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Photo of rtepiak
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.

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Photo of Floydster
3.08/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled at Ballast Point's 12th Anniversary Party on 10/25/08, reviewed from notes, first beer of the day

A-Medium brown in color, looks more like a flat soda than beer, 1/8 inch bubbly cream colored head when it was first poured, not much retention, no lacing either
S-Tons of brandy, oak, toffee, caramel, charred aromas, light malt, roasty accents, and more booze
T-Starts off with nothing but brandy, noticeably thin slick flavor too, subtle malt in the middle, light vanilla in the finish to mix in with the booze, does not change much as it warms except for getting slightly sweeter and more roasted flavors along with oak, brandy is too prominent and needs something else to offset it
M-Hot, spicy, and sweet mouthfeel, needed some more malt to balance flavors out and seem more like a dopplebock, thin body, not near enough carbonation, taste lingered
D-Could barely finish my small glass, heavy on the stomach, ABV is not that high but you can taste alcohol with every sip, not very smooth

I enjoyed the Syrah version a lot more this year and last year but I still like the non-barrel aged version better than both, probably would not drink this again, might be worth trying

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Photo of DoubleJ
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.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.95/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-Tap at TND.

BA Navigator is a dirty brown color with some red thrown in. No head, no lacing, it's a barrel aged beer very common. Smells of big sweet malts with caramel, dark fruits with plums & figs and brandy, well balanced. Taste is balanced as well as the brandy makes headway with the big sweet malt factor. Not a big hard alcohol guy but the brandy is well integrated. Not much hops in this, none felt at all. Getting some toast. Mouthfeel is just a touch hot while sweet factors and brandy stay with you for a bit. A bit above medium bodied with low carb. Really enjoyed this.

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Photo of cld253
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%

Photo of paco1029384756
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.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
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.

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Photo of jgap
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
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 nickd717
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
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.

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Photo of cbutova
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.

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Photo of kflorence
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.

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Photo of HeyItsChili
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.

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