California Amber | Ballast Point Brewing Company

very good
457 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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Reviews: 457 | Ratings: 1,412
Photo of MUTINY
3.82/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Quick review. I'll tell you what I like - great mouthfeel, burly malt & solid carbonation really come together nicely here. I'm liking the look of it too, nice deep amber/red. Beyond that, this brew is a bit malt-forward for my taste, I tend to go for the thinner, spicier red/ambers.

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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 uvachief
3.71/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Draft into a pint glass on kick the keg night which means the keg has been on awhile. Pours a beautiful amber copper red. Little to no head. Doesn't have much of a smell other than floral with some roasted malts. Very clean and light tasting. But not a lot of flavor. Would go down easy on a warm sunny day. Above average red ale.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.28/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle served in a snifter 4/23/2015.

A- Dark copper-amber body, two finger offwhite head, fair retention, no lacing.

S- Crisp grassy and earthy aromas, a mild toffee backbone. Not complex or interesting, but certainly no off flavours.

F- Moderately malty toffee up front with a mild pine and grass bitter finish .

M- Medium-thinner bodied, good carbonation, nothing too complicated or challenging aside from a fair amount of grassy bitterness.

O- A fair Amber/Red ale with a decent amount of malty flavour with a moderate hop bite on the backend, but nothing to write home about.

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Photo of maedhros09
3.2/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Look: They got the color right! Deep beautiful clear ruby amber with very nice fluffy head and lacing
Smell: malty
Taste: Lots of malt character - some fruitiness and a lot of grain, but not sweet or heavy. The only part I kind of dislike is a sourness that just seems out of balance. Otherwise it is a refreshing though flavorful beer.
Feel: light to medium body with a typical mouthfeel.

Overall: I enjoyed this beer somewhat but I really have no desire to buy another one. The malt dominance is not a problem at all - rather it is the character of the malt that just seems rough around the edges and not terribly pleasant. Beautiful presentation though!

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Photo of chuckpalka
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I liked this. Poured it from a bottle in my glass at home. A nice rich copper clear look with a off white nice head. Carbonation is low which is fine. A slight bread malt smell that stays with the taste with a hint of citrus for a subtle nice combination mouth feel. The foam head holds up well and provides nice lacing. Bought it with a mix and match six pack and will buy again.

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Photo of Redneckwine
3.56/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into SA pint

Appearance - Coppery amber and crystal clear, fluffy 2 finger offwhite head retains well and leaves good sticky lacing. Quintessential amber ale look here.

Smell - Pretty aggressive for an amber, raw honey and toasty cereal grains shine through. A little bit of fruity ester going on mixed with more citrus/herbal hops than expected.

Taste - Toasty bread and raw grains right away mixed with some honey/caramel-like flavor brings a very modest sweetness. Some fruity notes coalesce with minor piney/citrusy/herbal hopping. This beer dries out super-fast and includes a fairly assertive resinous/earthy hop bitterness in the finish (WAY more than expected) that lingers quite awhile. Quite a bit of hop bitter but not a great deal of hop flavor.

Feel - Snappy, bubbly carbonation makes for a light feel on the medium body. Maybe a bit more carbonated than I'd like (even after a reasonably strong pour). Interestingly crisp for an amber ale, but at the expense of some smoothness.

Overall - A decent amber here, but some things about it rub me the wrong way. The carbonation seems a bit too high and effervescent and the high bitterness level doesn't really seem to jive all that well with the overall taste. Not bad, but not great either. Not strong enough to be a repeat purchase for me.

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Photo of mothmanscott
3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear deep amber/pale brown with a reddish hue producing 2 fingers of somewhat lasting, pale tan, foamy/frothy head that leaves a clumpy coating of streaky, webby lacing. Aroma is disappointing & promises little: thin toffee, caramel & earthy herbal hops. Taste is another kettle of fish altogether (no pun intended). The mouth is an intense version of the nose on steroids with dark bread, roast and nutty notes, more intense earthy hops & yeasty/malty fruity esters. The sip finishes with caramel, roast & nuts, fruit, some pepper & an increasing hop bitterness. Afrertaste is a dry, astringent & bitter bomb that is out of character for the style but most welcome to card carrying Hop-Heads such as myself. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, dry, creamy, silky with slight spice & a pleasant astringency. I don\'t remember an amber ale with this much bitterness.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up a few weeks back up in Totowa, having never had this before. I've been on a big Ballast Point kick lately and was hoping that this would measure up to the Sculpin beers that I've enjoyed. While a bit too earthy and malty for me, this was a solid take on the style that went down easily and at the same time wasn't too terribly strong.

As expected, this was amber in hue with a ruddy clarity to it. Nice head that took a while to settle down and left parting shots in my pint glass via three lings of lacing that slide down to the next one. Caramel malt up front that gave way to a leathery mouthfeel later on and a fair amount of citrus and point hops. While the bitterness was not strong, it balanced out the base of this well without this beer accidentally falling into the Pale Ale category. The right amount of carbonation kept the balance in tow while allowing for the hop bitterness and slight stickiness to faintly linger in the back once the liquid went down.

While not technically a session beer, I could have had another in a sitting had I picked up more than one bottle of this. This would be great to take along for a day of fishing as there's enough here to please any beer lover while not being too heavy-handed. Once again, Ballast Point has brewed a beer that's spot-on when it comes to a particular style while keeping a good toasted undertone and pretty crisp finish that wanted me coming back for more. Relaxingly nice stuff!

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a clear copper red with a finger width khaki colored head. Fair retention, resulting in a thin layer of suds across the top. Strong lace left around the glass.

Smell - Caramel and earth with light grass.

Taste - Follows the nose. Primarily earth and caramel flavor. Slight metallic undertone that strengthens in the finish, leading to an earthy, slightly grassy bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium in body with moderate carbonation. Semi-dry finish.

Overall - Decent, but not really my bag. Too much bitter earth and metallic flavor. Might be an old bottle, but hard to say. There's a bottling code on the bottom, but it's nigh impossible to read.

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Photo of Kolbfusion
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Beautiful amber color but head dissipates quickly. Lovely floral hop aroma. Moderate bitterness but can taste the malt. Mouthfeel seems typical for the style. Moderate carbonation. Overall a good example of the style. One that I don't frequently drink but should explore a bit more.

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Photo of BowWowWowYippyYoIPA
3.74/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

No bottle date

Look - Beautiful clear garnet color with a cherry creme head. Decent head retention and bubble distribution. 4.5 paws.

Smell - Very dry, hints of piney citrus hop. Classic balance of hop and malt, with neither shining through. 3.5 paws.

Taste - Roasty, nutty malt character balanced by a subtle hop bitterness. Bits of black pepper with a counteracting sweetness. 3.5 paws.

Feel - Expected medium thin viscosity. Tingle is mild over entire tongue. Classic moist finish I've come to know from most american pale/amber ales. 4.75 paws.

Overall - I've never been a huge fan of amber ales. Not to say that I dislike them, but they are not a style that I seek out. They've always been the maltier little brother to pale ales to me. With that being said I am trying to appreciate them, and I actually found myself enjoying this one quite a bit. I haven't had a lot of others to put this one into context, but I'd say this is quite tasty overall. 3.75 paws.

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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.

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Photo of dcmchew
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Clear amber/copper, small light beige head for a while.
Smell of buttered toast, honey, light caramel, some light generic dark fruit (dried cherry stands out a bit), toffee. Not a strong smell anyway.
Malts from the start with caramel and toast, but also a nice citrus zing that develops into bitter grapefruit pretty early on. Light butter note, light dark fruit, grainy biscuit. Finish has an English hoppy character, dry leafy, a bit earthy, but quite bitter.
The hoppy finish prolongs into the aftertaste, keeping some crisp citrus peel too. Just a bit of malt sweetness here. Medium body and carbonation, the light sticky buttery note doesn't really disturb that much.
Pretty cool, wouldn't mind to find it easier, but that's out of the question unfortunately.

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Photo of tastybeer
3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Color is right between the red on the bottle label and the brown of the beer bottle glass. Nice red glow in the sunlight with a creamy slightly orange tinted off white head. Good looking lace. Aroma is quite nice. Fruity and British-like with cherry, tangerine, flowers, creamy biscuits, fall spice (or something alike), earthy rooty tea.... Taste is brisk, fruity, earthy, and woody. Pear, cherry, some pine, and lingering grassy bitterness. Mouthfeel is prickly, fluid, and dry. Not a bad beer at all.

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Photo of jkrich
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a deep and clear red-brown with a foamy, sustained off-white head. According to the label, this ale was bottled the 212th day of 2014.

When I opened the bottle, the aroma was minimal to nonexistent. After the pour I could detect some sweet, fruity and wine-like aromas.

This is a well balanced amber ale with a nice hop profile in the first sip with lingering, biscuit malt on the palate. There are hints of dark fruits and molasses while the ale always maintains a refreshing and zesty mouth feel. This amber has more complexity than most "amber" style ales I have tried. The label does state this is an "ESB-Inspired Ale."

This is one I will seek out again, and I would put this at the top of the amber style.

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Photo of i4ourgot
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Nice beer I was expecting more hoppiness coming from Ballast Point. Despite the lack of hops this beer still has lots of flavor. There is a subtle bitterness to the beer but that really allows the malt flavors to come through . The most noticeable while not overpowering was the roast malt flavor, giving the beer a nice mellow subtle coffee flavor. Very nice mouth feel to the beer it was very light but it still had a creamy aspect to the beer. The aroma was very mellow but at a restaurant I always have a hard time smelling my beer.

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Photo of rjs246
3.32/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

You can taste the quality but the sweetness in the nose just doesn't do it for me. I'll bet there are plenty of people who like this one, but it isn't for me.

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Photo of BigBry
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle with dinner in Anaheim.
Clear, dark copper with a foamy tan head. Foam shrinks to a thin film, thin lace sheets left behind.
Smell is of malt, and herbal hops. Slightly fruity yeast aroma.
Taste has a good malt base, finishes with floral herbal hops.
Low level of carbonation, medium body and mouth feel.
Overall, this is a pretty good beer.

Note to self: Rated #89 American Amber / Red Ale when I tasted it.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Red-orange in color. Good clarity. Pillowy cream-colored head billows up and retains forever. Lacing sticks in sheets. A very good-looking beer.

S: Chewy caramel, toffee, bready, shortcake, pinch of cocoa, cherry and red berry. Earthy hops. Herbal, tobacco. Very well balanced and polished.

T: Toast and shortbread up front. Toasted crust. Toffee. Citrus rind bitterness from the hops- bitter grapefruit rind. Lots of woody, herbal, and tobacco notes as well. Hop bitterness spikes toward the back end and really clamps down. Red berry and cherry flavors buried deeply. Grapefruity hop bitterness edges out receding caramel and toffee malt flavors on the finish.

M: Medium bodied. Full, round, and very creamy with a whipped and airy texture. Modestly carbonated. Awesome mouthfeel.

O: This is far from the simple amber ales that flooded the market in the early days of craft. At its heart it is really more of an English ESB, and a well-made one at that. It's generously hopped in the American fashion too. Worth a look if you're into ESBs or want a change of pace. Don't just write it off as another boring amber ale.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.18/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a style of beer that all too often does very little to nothing for me, but this one is something different and something special, leave it to ballast point for that. the color is great, largely clear with an almost ruby red amber color and a khaki head, thick and frothy and slowly fading, but it leaves spiderweb lacing as it drinks. the nose is hoppy and dry, the exact opposite of what we usually get in these beers. the hops have a subtle perfume character, bright and floral, a little tangy, citrus peel, clean though, only bitter enough to balance these richer grains out a little bit. is love to know which hops they used here, its so different, and for once the red malt base enhances hops for me, rather than crowds them out with sweetness. its super dry too, and at a low abv this is something i could drink endlessly. wishing my single would morph into a sixer pretty hard right now. one of the driest reds i can recall, and one of the most beautifully hopped. this is top tier for the style, no doubt. its exactly what my palate likes!

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Photo of barczar
3.81/5  rDev -0.5%

Beautiful deep amber color, excellent head retention. Aroma is dominated by toasty and fruity specialty malt, with a hint of citrus and pine. Flavor follows suit, but adding a fairly bitter finish. Well balanced, with notes of toffee and citrus countering, though the finish is more bitter than I'd prefer. Really wish I had purchased more of these. Fairly complex for an amber.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

If you are planning to visit me in Lancaster, PA (or if you are just passing through) and want to score some singles, The Friendly Greek Bottle Shop on New Holland Avenue (at N. Franklin St.) is one place that I highly recommend. Ted(dy), the owner, is usually amenable to breaking sixers if there is open space in the cooler and I can always find something new and interesting. This one was a part of a recent score!

From the bottle: “ESB-Inspired Ale”; “Dedicated to the Craft”.

I dedicate this beer and its review to both my cousin, Colby Chandler, Ballast Point’s Specialty Brewer and to Paul Elder, the artist behind all of their labels! Cheers, gents!

I just love to Pop! The cap and start an inverted Glug! Following a pseudo-cascade, anything could happen, including overflow, which is what really set #TheOldLady off last summer. In this instance, I got three fingers of dense, puffy, tawny head with great retention. Color was Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17) with NE-quality clarity. The head suddenly fell like a soufflé, leaving behind a load of sticky lacing. Somebody from BPBC had better be coming by to clean this up! Nose explained why they are using “inspired” since it was very hoppy for an ESB. Yes, they do call it an “Amber Ale” so fair dinkum, lads. My point that I was getting to is that it had a very pine-hop forward nose. Do try to keep up. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was initially quite hoppy, but then a caramel malt sweetness began to assert itself on the tongue. It was about a decade ago that John Frantz proclaimed that “Ambers are a dead style among craft brewers” and at that point, I had to agree. They were the foundation of craft beers, but they tended to be very malty just as AIPAs were coming into vogue. The shift towards a hoppier Amber makes them more palatable and marketable as a result. Off of my soapbox. Here, the hops were prevalent, but there was still some malty sweetness. Finish was semi-dry, not really what I would consider sweet under any circumstances. This may or may not be your cuppa tea, but for me, I am awaiting its release in CANs. Ya hear me, Colby?!? CANs!

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Photo of pat61
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

Very slight fresh grain smell.
Pours brilliant copper amber with a frothy, finely bubbled off-white foam cap that produce good lace.
Malt driven graham cracker biscuit palate leads a creamy attack that dries out on the finish with a light bitter hop accent.
Medium body, medium to just a hair above on the carbonation but very fine and soft.

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Photo of ttroha
3.52/5  rDev -8.1%

Tap. Semi-hazy brown with minimal white head. Aroma of caramel, pine hops and floral hops. Taste is sweet with bitter hops at the back end, Bitter, hoppy aftertaste. Medium bodied.

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California Amber from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.83 out of 5 based on 1,412 ratings.
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