California Amber | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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California AmberCalifornia Amber
Very Good
1,476 Ratings
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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,476 |  Reviews: 473
Photo of tonistruth
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours a red tinted copper color that sports a off white two finger head that has great retent and lacing, head settles to a little ring.

S- sweet and toasty, piney hop aromas

T- balance of this brew favors hops, though this brew is still obviously malty. toasted malts, has a bitter pine finish, citrus, and caramel flavor as the brew warms. After taste is a mix of grassy and piney flavor.

M- surprisngly a smooth velvetly mouthfeel, dare i say creamy? semi dry finish that goes completely dry for the aftertaste.

D- i've never had an amber with such a silky smooth mouthfeel, points there. I really enjoyed this, and i'll definately be back for more. I noticed that amber/red ale is such a popular style, and it is hard to set a brew apart from another without brewing another style completely. I think the mouthfeel for brew accomplishes that feat.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep reddish/amber color, clear, with a slim, sustaining head of off white froth. The aroma is soft and sweet, dominated by grassy, citrus hops, much like an IPA. Strong on taste, with a nice balance of hops and nutty toasted malt. The bitterness is quite strong and lingers well, an unexpected suprise. Medium thickness with pretty strong carbonation. I enjoyed the flavor and the delectable bitterness, very nice for the style...

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Photo of BeerAmbassador
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep red amber color with a nice two finger head and good retention. Good amount of sticky lace on the side of the glass.

Smells very malty, I am getting fig and honey notes and a little floral bit from the hops.

Hugely malty up front with a very respectable hop whallop at the end. A nicely balanced beer that wont dissapoint hop lovers but wont blow anyone away either. Mouthfeel is pretty good although carbonation may be a little on the grainy side.

On preview I agree with other comments that this beer is in the ESB stye, it didnt really occur to me but it definately has all those characteristics.
Overall this is a highly drinkable amber beer that I really enjoy. Maybe one of my new favorite amber beers. Worth the money if you happen to see it, pick it up.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a brilliantly clear brown-tinged amber color that is topped by a frothy, one-finger thick tan colored head, that even leaves some lacing patterns as I work my way through this glass. The aroma is nicely hoppy up front with notes of sweet orange peel being dominant. An interesting herbal note soon follows, but leads to a solid toasty grain note. Underneath is a solid caramel note that adds to the secondary, yet noticeable malt character. The nose really strikes a nice balance, definitely leaning towards the hoppy side of the spectrum, but it has a nice malt backbone.

The beer is well enough carbonated to cause a nice prickle of carbonation as it passes through my mouth. A solid bitterness accompanies the carbonation and adds to the sharp quality of this brew. The beer is fairly light on the palate, there is an ample malt body, but it seems to be balanced quite well by the lingering bitterness, which makes one want to take another sip (or at least this one does). There is lots of American hop character here as well; notes of grapefruit, orange peel and even a bit of resinous pine like character are certainly the dominant note up front. The malt character is not as noticeable as it was in the aroma, it really plays even more of a supporting role here. Perhaps a hint of toasted malt notes peek through, and the sweeter malt notes are not even really all that noticeably, except that they allow the citrus-like hop notes to come to the fore.

This is a fabulous example of an Amber ale, hoppy and flavorful, like a hoppy Pale Ale even. I definitely recommend this to those sick of bland craft brewed Amber ales. A 22oz of this beer is the perfect amount as well; it allows for a mini-quaffing session, which is what this beer is made for.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
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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Photo of DogFood11
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured a nice shiney copper color w/ some red hue around towards the core. Solid, tight eggshell head that retains perfectly, leaving spider web lacing with every pull.

Pretty hoppy for the style, quite honestly the hoppiest Amber I've had to date. The beer is so damn good that I'm not going to hold this to any titles though as this to me leans towards a pale ale. That being said the herbal hops are prominent, quite nicely balanced by a citrus side and manages to still stay pretty light on the palate, crisp, and refreshing. Malts are in the backdrop and from what I can tell have a breaded, sweet, feel to it.

Notes: Wow, what an exceptional offering from a brewery I regularly blew past in the beer stores. Six packs of this stuff would be my prefered purchase size, Bombers of smallish beers are not usually on my list.

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Photo of spazaru
4.73/5  rDev +25.1%
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 IrishRedRock
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. Burnt copper, head recedes to a fine lace. Sweet, malty floral nose with a dusting of fresh herbal hoppiness. Starts bready with dry cracker flavors and a sweet, chewy malt profile. Mildly sweet throughout, notes of tangerine citrus, the hops biting down in the finish to bring nearly perfect balance to this brew. Wow. Mouthfeel is spot-on, surprinsingly velvety leaving just the slightest amount of carbonation near the back of the mouth as it goes down. Session ale for sure and one if available I'd be purchasing sixtels of like crazy. I'm heading out on the back deck right now to enjoy the rest of this in this perfect Septemeber evening weather. Very nice brew.

Thanks to Kingslender and the left coast BA's for so graciously giving me the gift of this bottle upon our BA meet-up at Monk's in Philly.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Perfect amber color with a smeared glare to its body. Soft ivory cap of medium stature rises up from a vigorous pour out of the bomber. Keeps a big bubbly surface at the edges and lacing sticks in thick cob webbing patterns.

Very fresh, clean, and dry dominant aroma for an Amber. Nicely displayed woodish dry, cardboard fluffed hops with a twist of toasted and sweetly redolent malting. Very light noting to dried citrus peels creep ever so delicately underneath the main, dry wood profile.

Taste has an easy start with a simple red malt front. Light and sweet with just a hint of fruityness. Turns quickly to a sturdy wood character of tastes and dryness of leaves, dirt, and dried wood. A tenderized bitterness of scorched and super dried up grapefruit pith and orange skins tantlize within the woody stuff. Always keeps just the lightest play of sweetish/fruity malts underneath the wood flavors, thus, helping it from becoming fully puckering in the dryness department. But damn this stuff has one big dryness about it.

Feel is fairly broad and boldly set within a medium heft. Lively but soothing carbonation and definately dry all over the place. It has a good amount of that, no doubt. A bit one dimensional with the dry tones, therefore a tad tiresome after a while of drinking. Still one keeper of an Amber. Solid and dry.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finely dusty, rusty orange with bright orange edges. There's almost no visible carbonation. Thankfully, the head doesn't appear to need it at the moment. The tangerine-tinted ecru cap is a fat three fingers in height and looks like whipped butter. It's sticky enough to cling in ragged sheets, making the glass look even better on subsequent pours.

The nose is closer to an APA than to an amber ale due to its reliance on hops rather than on balance. I like it just the way it is. Cascade and Centennial are in use, providing the usual citrus zestiness. As well, a little caramel malt peeks out from behind the hops.

Calico Copper is much more balanced on the palate and is more in accordance with the style as a result. Actually, it tastes like an ESB that uses American hops. There's a toasted caramel maltiness that very nearly meets the hops on equal terms. Although orange and grapefruit rind isn't as prominent as it was in the nose, it still rules the roost.

The beer is gently sweet at all points along the flavor arc, becoming increasingly bitter on the finish. The see-saw stays in relative balance throughout, neither side rocketing skyward at any point. The vibrant, yet still well-mannered flavor profile makes this an easy beer to drink, as does the mouthfeel. Barely medium in heft, it has no rough edges and goes down frightfully easily. An understated amount of carbonation helps to ease the way.

Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale is one of the better amber ales to have crossed my palate in quite a while. It stresses the hoppy side of its personality without losing sight of its roots. This is a tremendously drinkable beer about which I have only good things to say.

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Photo of Dmann
4.74/5  rDev +25.4%
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 Boilermaker88
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presented in a 22oz bomber and served up in a standard pint glass. This California amber ale (to quote the label) had a clear dark copper color, modest carbonation, and a ½" whitish head that slowly faded down to a thick collar, leaving some minor lacing.
The nose was heavily laden with toasty malt and caramel. Backing these up were a decent dose of floral hops. However, the malt aspect ruled the roost. Same-same for the taste. Toasted malts and caramel thoroughly dominate the palate through to the finish, at which time a brief hops-inspired bittering put in an appearance. The feel was full, rich and round - very nice.
Amber ales aren't my favorite style of beer. In fact, they're not even close. However, Ballast Point has a quality attempt at the style here. Easily drinkable, smooth and enjoyable, Calico Amber Ale is another solid brew from Ballast Point and worth seeking out.

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Photo of winomark
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful deep amber/copper with a 1 inch thick medium tan head. Great balance of malt and hops in the nose. Very lovely nose. Rich malty sweetness dominates the palate throughout. Hops definately take a back seat, only making a tiny appearance in the finish. Good mouthfeel, flavorful and coating, with a mildly dry finish. A very nice beer. I have not found a bad one from this brewery. Look for this one.

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Photo of Mark
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a nice deep amber, head was really thick and lasted all the way down. Lacing was not what I expected though, a little sparse. Fresh hoppy aroma was inviting. Taste profile consisted of a solid caramel malt base with citrusy hops. Many ambers are real chocolatey, I sometimes don't like it. This amber is more refreshing than most. Nice and drinkable. a solid beer and thanks to Rkhaze for the bottle.

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Photo of rkhaze
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light amber with a nice dense foamy beige head. Left good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, caramel and citrusy hops.
Tastes of sweet grainy malt. Rich caramel,some fruit and a nice tangy citrus hop balance. Had an almost tea-like aftertaste.
Medium bodied with a semi-creamy mouthfeel and tingly carbonation. Very crisp and refreshing. Good choice for a session Amber.

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear reddish amber colored ale.

Smell is mostly hops and some sweet malt.

Taste is mostly hop with a bit of malt in there, it is a hoppy beer. The sweetness in this is obliterated by the hop.

Mouthfeel is good.

Drinkability is OK. Seems over hopped for the beer style.

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Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew is a very good AAA (American Amber Ale). It is a dark red colour with a fluffy white head of foam. The aromas are heavy and malty. They consist of several different malts, cascade hops, and sugar. The taste is sweet, malty, and slightly hoppy. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and not too thick and the drinkability is excellent. A great session amber beer!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear and perfectly amber appearance, with a nice 1/4" head of creamy foam above.
Aroma: sweet, rich, & malty, copper-toned, with minor hops.
Taste: warm, rich in flavor, yet smooth, with high drinkability. Very mellow, but, again, never quits on the fine taste. An excellent session ale, this 22 oz. bomber went down very happily indeed.
Hats off to Mr. BeachBum for providing!

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Photo of RoyalT
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Beautiful copper color with a terrific head that went down slowly and left some big foam on the inside of my Ruination glass.

Smell – Wonderfully balanced nose here. The pine hops are sharp but subdued, mixing well with the lightly-toasted caramel malt. Floral hoppy undertones play thoughout, making this one nice.

Taste – The malt comes out more in the taste. There’s also an added sweetness to this one. My best guess is orange or grapefruit, or maybe a mix. The hops are there as well, but reserved.

Mouthfeel – This is the ale’s strong point, IMO. This medium-bodied ale was smooth as silk. I thought I was drinking from a tap.

Drinkability – This would make a great session ale, something you can share with your Coors Light buddies to bring them over from the dark side.

Comments – Many thanks to mickeymac for sending me this Ballast Point offering. It was fabulous.

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Photo of mickeymac
4.32/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one comes from a bomber with the trademark Ballast Point gamefish on the label. It pours a very eye-pleasing copper with an off-white head that diminishes rather quickly but leaves some lace. The smell is interesting and hard to pinpoint exactly. It has slight peat notes reminiscent of a Scotch Ale but a good amount of hops. The taste, although again hard to categorize, is exceptionally nice. Flavors of biscuit, malt sweetness, and hops blend together almost perfectly. Another winner from Ballast Point.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Medium amber color. Large head. Aroma is malty with a very definite earthy/yeasty tone to it. A medium bodied ESB. Malts are mild and very rich, Slightly sweet with caramel and toffee tones. Hops are citrusy and not very bitter for an ESB. It extremely well balanced. The malt/hop balance seems to change with every sip. Very smooth, nearly creamy taste. Full and rich. Very drinkable. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is smooth and a touch dry. Aftertaste is slightly sweet.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ballast Point Brewing Company, Calico Copper E.S.B. Comes in a 22 fl.oz. Bomber with a colorful label showing a small fish that is just about to be swallowed up by a larger one. A Nice picture and plenty of sales blurb, but annoyingly, no strength is indicated.

Appearance: As expected, a deep copper color that had rusty red hints when held to the light. Has a slight milk haze to it. At first the head is a lovely smooth dark tan head, it does fade, but thankfully quite slowly. Good inherent carbonation adds body and mouthfeel.

Smell: Malty, caramel, biscuit, and some fruitiness are all there in good dollops. I also get hop resin with some pepper at the back of the nose.

Taste: Silky smooth entrance, no doubt aided by the reasonable carbonation levels, coats the mouth with malt and caramel that has a detectable alcohol presence in the backbone. It already impresses me before I get to the middle. The center-line of the beer has caramel with biscuit tendencies that makes way for a complex blend of malt and hops. This is a twisting and turning beer, always catching you out. Complex is probably the wrong word, it is more indiscernible, and hard to pin down – yet somehow always well-balanced.

Mouthfeel: Wholesome, solid and bold at times.

Drinkability: Overall, it tends to be a well-balanced, yet still complex malty brew with some bitterness in the finish. An almighty good beer, that I could easily drink for several hours.

Overall: A Very American E.S.B.

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Photo of Gusler
4.24/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep copper or maybe better yet deep garnet the color as it sets in my glass, the head munificent, the lace a fine satin sheet to cover the glass. Nose is lightly floral but mostly malt sealed with sweet hints of butterscotch, quite pleasant. Begins malt sweet with the top middling in its feel, finish is stingingly acidic which tries to defend the palate against the onslaught of the hop monster that lies in ambush at the very dry end. WOW! Do I like this bad boy? “Yes”! Quite complex and a very quaffable beer, just wish they were easier to get in Arizona.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, very dark amber / copper colored body capped by a short, creamy, ivory head that holds well and leaves some nice lace. A pronounced aroma of caramel and biscuit malt greets the nose, followed shortly by some soft piney hops. Quite welcoming! Upon tasting, an exceptionally nice creaminess fills the mouth due to the combination of a medium body and moderate carbonation that's made up of very fine bubbles. The flavor displays an excellent balance between full, sweet, toasty/biscuity caramel malt upfront, grassy/spicy/lightly citrusy hops towards the swallow, and a bitterness that doesn't interefere with the maltiness but dries out the finish. A pleasure that offers a great deal of malt character, some complexity, and a very good drinkability. This is the first beer that I've tried from Ballast Point but it will certainly not be the last! Well worth trying and the ship directly to quite a few states!

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Photo of beernut7
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This deep amber colored ale is quite a hoppy offering. There is a substantial amount of bittering and spice hops to balance out a bit of roasted malt. Not my favorite amber, but this would be great for those who enjoy a bit more umph with their amber.

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California Amber from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.78 out of 5 with 1,476 ratings