California Amber | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
463 Reviews
California AmberCalifornia Amber

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly Calico Copper Amber Ale

Added by xlperro on 04-10-2002

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 463 | Ratings: 1,429
Photo of Aaron_Ramson
4.9/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Picked up growlers of Calico Copper Amber and Big Eye IPA from Ballast Point brewery after making a 2 hour drive there. Pours a beautiful amber red with a slightly khaki fluffy head which dissapates into an even lacing around the glass. Aroma of sweet caramel, pears, white grapes, sweet lime and citrus. Strong flavor of caramel, fresh bread, buttered toast, cereal; lime and huge grapefruit flavors coming from the hops. Mouthfeel is medium thin with a very appropriate carbonation bite. Delicious and extremely balanced. As close as you can get to the perfect session beer.

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Photo of angrygrimace
4.83/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Calico Amber from a bomber, although I've had it from a growler, tap, you name it straight from the brewery.

Pours with deep appetizing clear copper color with a subtle head that does lace the glass a fair bit. Smell is hoppier than you might expect, but not out of line with what you expect from west coast breweries making this style of beer.

The taste is simply exceptional. Toasty, delicious malts and a nice, tight hops bite that just hits you soon after you take a sip. Without getting into superlatives, I'd just say the bitterness level is just about perfect for the style. Mouthfeel is somewhat dry, but perfectly refreshing. You could drink a lot of these.

I'd won't hide the fact that Calico is one of my favorite beers ever. I wouldn't argue it's something you could really compare to an IPA like Sculpin, but that doesn't diminish its qualities considering it's not that type of beer.

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Photo of josanguapo
4.81/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From Beergium. In Teku glass. After dinner. Full of delicious toffee toasted notes. It demonstrates that this isnt a style I dislike but a style with lots of bad examples around

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Photo of Sacrifice
4.77/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

i had this in a box with ballast point sculpin, pale ale, and calico. it has a nice spice i wouldn't quite know how to describe. not quite as much to my liking as the sculpin, but stronger flavor than the pale ale.

i'd buy this for a change of pace from my usual if i could get it.

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Photo of Dmann
4.74/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is an outstanding brew from one of San Diego's smaller breweries. It poured a very nice dark amber/brownish color and had a nice slightly off white head that was very dense and laced my glass nicely. I could smell this beer from across the room once I poured it into my glass. The great scent of sweet malt and a touch of earthiness was very nice. The taste was excelent as well. Aided nicely by a near perfect mouthfeel, the taste was quite malty but never cloying and had a great carmel flavor in the middle followed by a nice balanced hoppy finnish. Another quality brew from Ballast Point.

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Photo of spazaru
4.73/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let me just say that I think Calico is the best session beer I've ever had, period.

It's got a great appearance, smell, and TONS of flavor without being overpowering in any way.

In my opinion, this could be the beer that would convert macro drinkers en masse.

It's too bad that Ballast Point doesn't get more pub. They make well balanced beers that have great flavor and a lot of personality without having to kill you with alcohol.

Hopefully, this will be the next brew that BP decides to sell in 6 packs, which will make it even more convenient for sessions.

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Photo of Bigfatbino
4.6/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A = dark amber, as the name implies. Beautiful thick lacing left on the glass. Nice head with tight bubble structure.

S = bright and flowery, with barley undertones.

T = Wow. Nice and on the bitter side, but not overpowering. Taste of roasted coffee and some chocolate undertones along with the grains are wonderfully pronounced.

M = Tingly, bright, bubbly, nice resiny feel left on the tongue.

D = This is a wonderful beer to go with a nice man-food dinner, like Porterhouse.

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Photo of milwaukee512
4.6/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another hit from Ballast Point. Well-carbonated, fresher and a bit hoppier than most in this category. Reminds me of Lakefront's Riverwest Stein or New Belgium's Fat Tire, but with a little bit of a west-coast IPA lean. Nothing wrong with that.

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Photo of chadu
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

One of the very finest Ambers I have ever had.

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, a nice head that dissapates quickly. Leaves some lacing on the sides of the glass.

A sweet malty nose with hints of caramel and molasses.

The bready initial taste is tempered by a slightly bitter finish that begs for another drink.

A nice thick, substantial beer with a light carbonation.

Overall, will definitely buy again, this time in a 6 or hopefully on tap somewhere.

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Photo of PintOHops
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass - Pint

A - First off It opened with a huge Co2 release, then as I poured it, it created a massive 4-5 finger head with way way way to much visible carbonation! Wow, never had this happen to me before. Color is copper/amber, head retention is amazing, left some splashy lacing.

S - A little dry & floral hop notes upfront, lots of sweet malts, big caramel, some candied date, toasted sugar, a bit of toast. wonderful aroma, very balanced aroma.

T - Big toasted malts, biscuits & caramel unfold into a bit of citric hop bite in the center, following is some toffee and molasses. Finishes with lingering malty goodness and a soft balancing bitterness. As the smell, very balanced!

M - A bit smooth, would be more so if not for the huge carbonation level of this beer, very crisp, lite-medium bodied.

D - God I could quaff this beer all night. I love the balance of hops/malts, this is an exceptional Amber Ale. I highly recommend this beer, just outstanding! Can't wait to have this one again. Cheers!

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Photo of Martin2D
4.52/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Amber with a pure white head that fades quickly

S - Hops and alcohol with a strong malt smell

T - Strong hop presence with an equally malty backbone. Plenty of citrus hops. Beautiful balance.

M - Medium-high carbonation and medium in body

D - I could hammer these all night. Such balance and flavor. Great beer and am glad I have tried it.

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Photo of Topher78
4.5/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured this brew into a Becker Pint glass. I was treated to a perfect Amber hued brew that delivered about a fingers worth of khaki head that left impressively good lacing. I brought the glass to my nose and took in a deep whiff was greeted by aromas of toasted malt and pleasant hop notes. The flavors of toffee, caramel and toasted malt combined to make one of the most unique and inspiring beers I've tasted in a long time. When drank this brew has an almost chewy like mouth feel to it and lacks nothing in it's character.

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Photo of Rzzzzz
4.48/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Beatles Revolver pint glass. And does that ever make for an awesome visual presentation. EXACTLY what I had in mind when I bought the glass.

Beer is a beautiful deep copper amber with a medium sized sand colored head. Aroma of sweet malt, caramel and light floral hops. Full of crystal malt flavor, rich and complex with a nice bitter finish. Very well balanced. Great body, nice carbonation--the quintessential amber ale. I could drink a lot of this.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
4.48/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks go to Zorro for this bomber.

Pours an amazingly clear crimson-brown color with a two finger thick tan head. Gorgeous lacing coats the sides of the glass. Very surprised by how good it looks.

The smell starts off with a citrus hop character followed by sweet toffee and lightly toasted grains. More herbal / floral quality towards the end. Hops are more dominant in the nose than you would expect from an amber ale...but it smells good.

The flavor is light and more balanced than what the aroma may hint at.
Herbal and citrus hop flavors are at the forefront but flow very nicely into the sweet, bready malts. Very refreshing brew. Aftertaste is hardly noticeable. One of, if not the, best amber I have had to date. Another great job by Ballast Point.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel with only a tad bit of dryness upon swallowing. Just enough to make you want to take another sip. The low abv make this very sessionable. I have had four of their offerings and I have been well pleased each time. Hopefully they can increase production and distribution so we can get it out here on the East Coast soon. Quickly becoming one of my favorite West Coast breweries. Now to trade for some more...

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Photo of adamette
4.45/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Live review. Poured from the 12 oz. bottle that I bought as a single from Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor, Ohio yesterday for $1.85 into a clean, clear glass. "CA 292 Best by 062812" stamped on the neck of the bottle. Whew! Just made the "best by" date!

A Creamy thick head that clings to the inside of the glass over a pleasingly amber translucent body. I really appreciate the substantial head. The look is a strong one. 4.5

S Medium roast malt and a very pleasing grain/barley smell that I personally find very pleasing. It is not all that common in beers of this style. It smells "authentic" to me. 4.5

T Taste features the grain/barley that I picked up in the smell but also more of a presence of the medium roast malt in what I perceive to be a very well crafted Amber. Bravo! 4.5

M Medium feel with a bit of a kick of bitterness from possibly the hops which tend to linger on the tongue for a while (I found this to be the case with Sculpin sampled with the hour). Nice strong feel, especially compared with other beers in its style. 4.0

D/O Drinkability is at least average. I find enough interest in the taste to come back for more. The ABV allows me to drink more than one as well. Overall this is a very good beer. 4.5

Notes: Pleasant surprise. I recommend anyone seeking this one out, especially if you can find it for less than $2/bottle like I did!

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Photo of Lard_City
4.43/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Color is nice dark Amber and the aroma is an OK mild maltiness but the flavor and feel a outstanding sweet malty toffee with hints of fruit and very mild carbonation. So far this is my favorite from Ballast Point.

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Photo of Bung
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Light brown/amber pour. Light white head. Surprisingly malty aroma, caramel, biscuit and citrus pine. Taste nicely balances caramel malt, light biscuit and pine citrus hops. Finishes with a clean hop presence. Good light/medium body with good drinkability. Hands down the best amber I've had since Bell's Amber which is the standard in my opinion. Ballast point is becoming an under rated overall high/low gravity brewery.

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Photo of keithmurray
4.41/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated best by 8.31.2013

Appearance - rich copper mahogany color with tan head

Smell - caramel, pine, grapefruit, spicy herb

taste - caramel, pine, grapefruit, tea

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, high carbonation, crisp, clean, sweet upfront, bitterness in the back to give this beer a nice balance

Overall - One of the better amber ales that I've had. I look forward to drinking this again in the future

Price Point - $1.67/12 oz single

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Photo of gregb13
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful copper with a chunky head and excellent lacing. Looks very appetizing. Smell is vibrant with bitter hops, citrus, pine. Taste follows the nose, with a decent malt presence. Some citrus bitterness lingers on the back end. Perhaps just a tad overcarbonated? Excellent brew, tough to find faults. Another winner from Ballast Point.

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Photo of TheDeuce
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Calico Amber the bottle at Craftbar in NYC...

Appearance-a dark shining red as it's poured out into a pint glass, nice three fingered head rises up and stays put. Lots of carbonation and the color is really vibrant.

Smell-spicy mix of roasted malt, light but notable hops, some fruit (plums almost) and light alcohol flourish.

Taste/Mouthfeel-medium mouthfeel, spicy upfront but the malts balance nicely, fuller taste than I expected, the flavors work well, spicy finish with a kick of malt.

Drinkability-well done, balanced and tasty.

Overall-great example of the style, all the right notes, stands up to any other version. Superb.

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Photo of PhxHorn
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color is a deep orange-red, with a respectable head appearing. Smells of malt and spice, and tastes moderately of spice, malt, and yow! a respectable amount of hops in there, too. Could qualify as decent APA if it wanted to. Not quite as much hop flavor as the Green Flash amber, but one of the best amber ales I've had to date.

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Photo of Shaw
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A beautiful copper/amber in color with a big sticky off-white head.

Nice mild malty and hoppy aroma.

The taste is excellent. Bready and biscuity with plenty of citrus hop flavors and bitterness. A nice astringency, too.

Nice body is creamy and smooth.

Overall this is a very nice beer. Another winner from Ballast Point and one to seek out.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy brown-orange body, with tan foam lingering and ringing the trusty Yankees glass with robust lacing--excellent. Nice citrusy hop smell with some caramel malt. The hops in the taste are phenomenal. Honestly, this is easy to mistake as a good IPA with the hops, the somewhat gritty mouthfeel, the mix of citrus and bitter. Impressive for certain. Fine balance between bitter and the sweet citrus, smooth and somewhat gritty, never flat, eminently drinkable.

I'm not a huge fan of the style, but this may be one of the two best American Amber/Red Ales I've had,right there with St. Rogue and a close second among Red Ale to Brian Boru. Distinct and impressive, this is terrific, one I'll most certainly grab again in quantity.

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Photo of chrisafari
4.36/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On Cask at Stone World Brewing Bistro and Gardens. Aroma of roasted and carmel malts, with a balance of hops. Pours opaque and deep amber/red/brown, nice full off-white head. Retention is good. Flavor begins with nice smooth roasted malt and finishes with a nice hoppy (pine/roasted nuts) throat. Very nice lacing. Medium body. Drinkability is medium-high, every sip begs you to take another. Really nice on cask. Throughout there is a nice balance between the malt and the hops, neither is too overpowering. Very well done Amber Ale, should be rated higher!

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Everything good in an American Red/Amber ale.
Pours a beautiful clear reddish amber with a nice single finger head that melts to heavy lacing.
Aroma is sweet malts and fresh NW hops.
Taste is sweet at first followed by a biting carbonated hop bitterness...only a slight citrus peel aftertaste.
The drying aftertaste makes you just want to take another thirst quenching swallow.
Very of my favorites of his style

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California Amber from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,429 ratings.
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