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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 463 | Ratings: 1,429
Photo of grover37
2.46/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle into a nonic pint.

Appearance (4.5): Dark reddish-orange with two fingers of cream head. Reduces a medium-thick layer with thick lacing at the top.

Aroma (3): Lots of caramel and toffee. Not much in the way of hops.

Taste (2): Sweet, sweet caramel and some cardboard in the middle. A touch of breadiness in the finish. Not very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel (1.5): Much too effervescent for the style. Medium to full bodied and medium to high carbonation.

Overall (2.5): the only impressive part of this beer is the appearance - great lacing, especially near the top. Otherwise, way too sweet.

 606 characters

Photo of kojevergas
2.56/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Served on-draught into a nonical pint glass at the Yardhouse in L.A. Live, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were average. Was overpriced at that location.

A: Pours a two finger head of great cream, nice thickness, and good retention. Colour is a semitransparent copper-amber.

Sm: Amber hops. Light toasted malt. Some light caramel. Maybe nuts. Some cream. A mild strength aroma.

T: Some floral notes. A weak cherry ester. Wretched caramelized dry malts. Poorly balanced and built. Not good. Tame and underplayed. Simple for what it is. Not subtle.

Mf: Smooth and dry. Too thin. Adequate carbonation. Doesn't quite complement the flavours adequately.

Dr: I wouldn't get it again. Poorly executed. Fairly pleasant. Not at all refreshing. A bit pricey on-draught, but the bottled version is likely more affordable.


 851 characters

Photo of stricklandscottm
2.59/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

The only thing Amber is the color. For an ESB inspired ale it is chock full of hoppy American badness that it ruins any mellow bitter malty flavor this style beer would have otherwise.

 185 characters

Photo of RyanTeeter
2.62/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

a: A beautiful nut brown color with a wonderful thick cream head that dissipates but does not disappear.

s: I could not get any aroma. Full discloser - I poured it and did not smell it for 15 minutes because work came up. So, I can say that if there was an aroma, it vanished.

t: Grassy malt flavor with a tingle of hops on the end. Very nice and very clean. Traces of spice are present throughout the tasting. Interesting flavors but not necessarily in a good way. It's a beer that makes you think - that's for sure.

m: An extremely pleasant mouthfeel. Slightly oily but not overdone. Just enough to get a coating of flavor around the mouth so the flavor sticks a little longer.

o: Overall this beer was not a great choice for my palate. Complex flavors overwhelmed my desire for more.

 794 characters

Photo of ThrewRedButter
2.66/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

L - Murky ruby red with a finger of off-white head

S -Straight up red ale with a massive malt presence and maybe even some raisin and fig. A weird tin can and green bean aroma makes me wince.

T - Plenty of sweet malts with some caramel, but I get a lot of cherry Robitussin on this which doesn't blow wind up my dress. No hops to speak of and there's almost a raw pizza dough/flower/powdery taste on the finish. I hate to even say it, but there is actually a copper-like taste akin to sucking on a penny.

F - Some cloying malts and muted hops linger. No alcohol presence. As I continue to sip, this is causing unbelievable cotton-mouth. It's basically the Sahara in my mouth.

O - Some unusual flavors, but at least sweet malts were here. No hops at all and an odd copper taste. I just don't know what they were going for here.

 832 characters

Photo of mithrascruor
2.7/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy reddish copper color. White head with a bit of amber tint is creamy and thick, lacing the glass a bit.

Smell: Nice aroma of fruits, caramel, malts, and slightly bitter hops.

Taste: Malty with a somewhat tart and/or bitter backdrop. Unfortunately no roasted malts: instead tastes more like burnt malts! That flavor seems to overwhelm the taste after just a few sips; it's quite nasty!

Mouthfeel: Very smooth. Medium-bodied with very light carbonation.

Drinkability: ABV is perfect; taste is not so great for drinking much.

I'm not sure if I just got a bad one, but that burnt taste is really distracting and unappealing. Too bad, because it seemed promising from the look and aroma. With the taste, I'm not even sure if I can finish this.

 811 characters

Photo of BEERWOLF1951
2.73/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

I like this beer for the most part, lingering bitterness in the finish somewhat puts me off. May not buy it again, because there's better beers out there.

 154 characters

Photo of jujubeast6000
2.76/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 12/29/2008 (bottle):

Pours a nice clear brown colored body, fizzy. Big creamy off-white heap, good lacing, lasting. Some alcohol in the nose, some flowery maltiness. Dusty and musty too. Carbonated palate. Malty nutty taste. Dusty too. Some hoppiness, grapefruit. Some sweet spiciness. A little tastier as it warms more.

 330 characters

Photo of malibujohnny
2.81/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

golden brown with a head that starts out well but disappears to just some bubbling after about 1/4 the way down.smell of hops seem to slightly overpower the malt characterictics.carbonation is a bit much and has a kind of green beer taste between the other flavors.this beer reminds me of a few good amber homebrews i've's a pretty ok brew.but if i'm in the mood for this i'll make it on my own.

 402 characters

Photo of SkunkWorks
2.82/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a nice, copper color but there's almost no head despite being very well carbonated and a very aggressive pour on my part. It leaves behind a good deal of lacing, which is surprising given the lack of a head. As for the aroma... I can't pick anything up. I tried smelling it with my glass full and got nothing. I tried smelling it with the glass half empty, swirling it around, and the whole nine yards, and still nothing.

As for the taste, there's a solid toasted malt character with some hoppiness to it. It leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. Even though it seems nicely carbonated, it tastes decidedly undercarbonated.

Reading the other reviews, I am kind of surprised and I think that I am drinking a different beer than they are. Perhaps it is past the date where it is still good and my store didn't rotate it for some reason. If that is the case, I apologize for my less than stellar review but nonetheless, I wouldn't recommend this beer and will probably not be getting it again.

 1,002 characters

Photo of amandacrane
2.86/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Beautiful red color, slightly cloudy

Very nice smell of malt and carmel

Somewhat of a burnt taste with hoppy bite at the end, bitter hop taste dominates

Smooth mouthfeel, a little dense, excellent balance of carbonation

Drinkability: I'm drinking it, I'm not trying to savor it, but I'm not choking it down either. If I really liked the taste of hops or if the hops flavor was more balanced with other flavors then I would like this beer much more. I would drink this beer again if it was offered to me, but I prefer other American Ambers.

 543 characters

Photo of Offa
2.93/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This is fairly tasty but is overly bitter, with too much pine-grapefruit bitterness dominating the finish.

Reddish amber, it has a big, light tan head that shrinks slowly but steadily to a thin ring and leaves a little weak lace.

The aroma is wheat, honey, citrusy hops, and dust.

The taste is malty and fruity, bitter before becoming a bit sweet, with faint flowery hops and a hint of toffee. It then finishes very bitter and dry with a strong hoppy pine-grapefruit aftertaste lingering long past its welcome. The hop bitterness gets more prominent as one drinks more.

 575 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
2.95/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

*Insert calico cat joke here...I'm above such feline references. Clearly.* This stuff pours a clear sunset amber topped by a finger of lightly off-cream-white foam. The nose comprises perfume-y toffee, very light mint, and a hint of flowers. The taste holds notes of mild greens, mild flowers, sweet toffee, and some orange peel in the back, resulting a sort of off, funky mess. It's hard to put into words beyond that. Just know that I took it as a negative. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, a strange little amber, one that just didn't do it for me.

 641 characters

Photo of jtierney89
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Crystal clear deep amber hue with a craggy off white head. lots of visible carbonation.

Super sticky head. Big oily hop nose. Floral and pine with citrus notes. Pretty clean beer with a big bitterness. Bitter throughout with big floral hop presence on the tip of the tongue. Undertones of caramel malts with some grapefruit and citrus. Pretty big body with big carbonation but the flavors hold up well to it. Good beer, but for the expensive cost of this six pack theres a bunch of other ambers i'd take over it. Slick and sticky but not overbearing. again, a good beer, just a steep price tag. at the same price as big eye IPA i'd take big eye.

 647 characters

Photo of jjh19
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A dark red/copper color with an average tight-bubble head. Surprisingly dark for an Amber.

Smell: Not a ton of aroma, but I did detect some toasted notes and some floral hops.

Taste: This one tasted a lot like New Belgium’s Fat Tire ale. For better and worse. There’s no denying that Fat Tire (and I’m sure Calico) has it’s fans. I’m just not one of them. It must be the balance of hops and malts - it doesn’t sit well on my tongue. The hops feel unnecessarily assertive.

Mouthfeel: Medium body.

Drinkability: This Amber Ale is okay. One and done.

 575 characters

Photo of hardy008
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a copper color with a one finger off white head which leaves a small lace on the side of the glass. Smell and taste are of bitter grapefruit flavored hops and biscuit malt. Finishes dry. Light bodied, moderate carbonation, and fairly drinkable. A decent beer, but not a favorite of mine. Leaves a disagreeable bitter aftertaste.

 334 characters

Photo of BeerWithMike
3.02/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled this evening on 2/18/16. Comes in a 12-ounce bottle. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a "FISH TALE WILD SALMON PALE ALE" pint glass.

Brew pours a reddish-amber in color with close to a 1-finger foamy off-white head. Some decent lacing is seen when sipped. Aroma is of caramel, sweet malts with some floral hops with a hint of pine. Taste is close to the nose actually. More like a ESB (Extra Special (or Strong) Bitters) actually in my opinion. Slightly hoppy dry finish but wasn't that bad.. Medium-bodied with decent carbonation. Overall, it was OK but nothing real special for a 'Red Ale'.

 639 characters

Photo of d4114
3.05/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Hazy red brown with a thin white head. Murky looking.

Malt forward with almost a minty note in there.

Malty, bready and earthy. Still getting the mint.

Thicker on the front of the tongue but watery in the back.

I have had this a few times now and it's just not for me, its not a bad beer but I always feel it has off flavors.

 329 characters

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.07/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - fuzzy iced tea amber to this one. A watery light tan head with some large bubbles but holds a thin cover pretty well.

Aroma - nice pine and orange, disappears after setup. Sort of a metallic, grainy smell going on.

Taste - somewhat sweet biscuity graininess, followed by some soapy hop flavors and some astringency that I'm wondering about. This could be a little off with infection, I'm not sure. More metallic and mineral flavor that I picked up in the nose. A thin watery finish with some fading astringency. The hops improve with time (and warmth) to show some pluck. Pleasant pine and orange rind bite.

Mouthfeel - very carbonated, the bubbles almost overflowed the bottle before I poured. Decent smoothness and body, good for the style.

Overall - didn't care for this one much. It's about 9 months old, it shouldn't be too old to show what it has. I do pick up some good hoppy flavors and to its credit, once my palate sort of adjusts, some of the subtler off flavors are minimized. I'd try it again.

 1,023 characters

Photo of nick76
3.08/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The aroma is piny with citrus and caramel. The appearance is amber with a large tan head. The flavor is astringent and malty with plenty of hops. The palate is thin. Overall it's average. I was actually having high hopes for this one that turned out to be just drinkable.

 271 characters

Photo of Overlord
3.11/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Given how much I've loved most of the Ballast Point offerings, I had high hopes for this one. Alas, while a solid beer, it was nothing spectacular.

It does indeed pour a gorgeous copper color with amber highlights. Smells and taste is nicely malty, with some hops (this is certainly no IPA) and fruit flavors mixed in. A good brew, but certainly not a "big beer" by any means. Carbonation was fairly low, and I'm wondering if it might have gone a bit flat ... but judging from the the other reviews I'm guessing a thin mouthfeel and little to no head is fairly standard.

 571 characters

Photo of garuda
3.11/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A - Amber, off-white head has little retention and some lace.

S/T - Sweet and malty, bready, biscuit, grapefruit flesh some pine... It just all doesn't seem to work out though. Can't really put my finger on it too well, but it's like there should be more hops in the finish, but just finishes overly sweet with little bitterness.

M - Medium body and carb. Finishes mostly clean.

 380 characters

Photo of Wisconsinality
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to July2Nov for another Ballast Point goody.

A- Poura the typical amber red that looks similar to cranberry juice. A nice two fingers worth of head provides decent retention and lacing.

S- I can see why they call this an American amber. Hoppy from the get go. A little bit of malt, caramel and brown sugar.

T- This was somewhat off-putting to me. I picked up the hops initially but then it went to jarred pickles and dish soap. That was about it.

M- Medium bodied with good carbonation. A little dry from the hops on the finish.

D- The score took a big hit due to the big presence of the soapiness and pickles. That makes it a one and done for me.

 664 characters

Photo of tr4nc3d
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured this into my pint glass

Pours an amber like color with an off-white one finger head. Head does not last too long but does not go away quickly, its on par average. Very small amounts of lacing is left behind.

Smell is that of dark fruits with the likings of purple grapes, prunes, berries, sweet caramel, bread like yeast. Smell is just wonderfully full of malt flavors. Cant wait to take a sip!!!

Taste lacks what I got from the smell. Very low malt flavor giving it just a slight sweetness to it. Lacks flavor and its pretty watery.

Mouthfeel is thin and watery with low carbonation.

Well the smell was great but this lacked flavor to me so it was a disappointment.

 678 characters

Photo of RonfromJersey
3.13/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Dark red amber, almost murky, body. Topped by a level two fingers of sticky off-white froth.

Big yeasty aroma. Candy sweet.

Solid semi-sweet malt as the beer hits the tongue. Earthy hops balance most of it, leaving it leaning just a tad toward the sweet side.

Mouthfeel is somewhat surprisingly light, expected something with a bit more helft, a little chewier.

Decent drinkability, no real flaws, though no real passion.

An ok amber ale. So far, Ballast Point's IPA is the easy leader of the pack.

 503 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
California Amber from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,429 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.