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California Kölsch | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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377 Reviews
California KölschCalifornia Kölsch

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Kölsch

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly Yellowtail Pale Ale and Pale Ale The Original.

There's no wonder why our Pale Ale is so popular--it is skillfully crafted in the style of the Kolsch beers of Cologne, Germany. We've chosen German hops for aroma, and rounded out the recipe with a blend of American and German malts.

While it is very much like a pilsner, our Pale Ale is fermented at ale temperatures, giving it a subdued fruitiness--a perfect compliment to the crispness of the wheat and maltiness of the Munich malt. If you like a lighter brew but also like the complexity of craft beers, then our Pale Ale is for you.

23 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-26-2001

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Reviews: 377 | Ratings: 1,057
Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 5/30/2014. Pours slightly hazy/cloudy golden color with a 2 finger dense and rocky white head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of lemon, pear, apple, wheat, cracker, bread, herbal, straw, grass, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance of pale malt, earthy hops, and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of lemon, pear, apple, wheat, cracker, bread, herbal, straw, grass, and yeast earthiness. Light earthy herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of lemon, pear, apple, wheat, cracker, bread, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and balance of pale malt, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. A fairly clean finish as well with no overly estery yeast notes present. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, fairly crisp, and lightly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with no warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very nice kolsch style. All around good balance and robustness of pale malt, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.9/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A - Clear golden yellow with plenty of carbonation. A slight head quickly disperses into film, leaving light rings of lacing while drinking.

S - Grainy wheat and a touch of hops.

T - Begins with light wheat and toasted grain flavors, eventually unleashing the somewhat fruity middle. Juicy hops and a sweeter malt base combine for an interesting, yet tasty profile. Finishes with a slightly buttery, tingly, hoppy bite.

M - Lighter medium body and bubby, with lingering dryness.

D - Ultra smooth and easy going. A bomber disappears pretty quickly with this one.

Another quality beer from Ballast Point - what else would anyone expect at this point?

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Photo of maedhros09
3.9/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I didn't look at the label too closely before trying this one so I was expecting more of an American Pale Ale. That considered my first reaction was disappointment - the flavors seemed dulled and there was not the freshness that I expect from an APA. When I saw the Kolsch "subheading" it made a lot more sense. A good enjoyable brew, but not one that I expect to repurchase.

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Photo of Antg8989
3.91/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Look: Pours a pale gold with a one finger white head.
Aroma: Crackery malts, pepper.
Taste: Malts up front. Spicy hops.
Feel: Medium bodied, high carbonation.
Overall: Decent pale ale. Not great, not bad.

3.5, 3.75, 4, 4.5, 3.75

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.91/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

120z bottle poured into a Pilsner glass.

A: Pale, clear golden-yellow color. Three fingers of rocky white head cap the beer, and it doesn't budge an inch. Thick collars of lacing form on the glass. Perfect appearance for the style.

S: Floral hops, very slight herbal edge, ghost-like hint of light fruits (grape skin?). Malts are grainy with a touch of musty bread.

T: Hop tastes wash over the palate with a very mild bitterness. Floral, green and slightly oily. Subtle hint of herbal spice. Doughy malt tastes shift as the beer dries toward the finish and shift into grainy tastes and hints of cracked wheat. Light fruity notes. Dry finish of grain, bread, and a fading hop bitterness.

M: Light in body. Some firmness of malt texture. Creamy and somewhat full. Active, scrubbing carbonation.

O: This is a very good representation of a Kolsch. It should have broad appeal, owing to the care with which it was crafted and the nature of the style itself. I find it curious, however, that Ballast Point chose to call it a Pale Ale on the label. That's bound to cause confusion when someone purchases it expecting a hoppy American Pale Ale or something of that ilk.

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Photo of jpro
3.91/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler from CBX... poured into an antique milk glass stein...

A: Honey gold with a puffy white head; nice retention leaves a few thick spots of lace.

S: Pilsner-esque malt / wheat aroma; light earthy and floral notes; a little metallic.

T: Lightly bready with a peppery dry hop bite on the end; biscuit; cracker; it has a nice little bite for a Kölsch.

M: Medium-light body; moderate carbonation; a touch viscous... more mouthfeel that I was expecting.

O: A nice little Kölsch; a bit more mouthfeel than average, but has a nice bite for the lower abv; a definite top choice for a summer beer.

*from notes 9.8.12

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Photo of barnzy78
3.92/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. Poured bright golden yellow with a very thin white head that left little lacing. Aromas were simple with some hints of biscuity malt and trace citric hop. Tastes were crisp with notes of biscuity malt (similar to other Ballast Point offerings), mildly fruity, with a slight grassy hop bitterness on the clean finish. Mouth-feel was thin to medium, but creamy and smooth with moderate carbonation. Well balanced and represents the style well.

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Photo of merlin48
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce bottle pours a clear goldenrod body that shows a lot of active carbonation. Immense vanilla head retains well and becomes pitted and rocky. Lots of scattered patchy lace.

Aroma is quite biscuity, accented by spicy and floral hops.

Light medium body is well carbonated.

Taste is well balanced, but governed by an earthy and spicy hop bitterness. Malt presence is very biscuity and has a hint of honey. Finishes clean and crisp.

One of the better American examples of the style and very sessionable.

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Photo of branimal9
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle sampled at home - 5/30/2010.

Cloudy pale gold in color, with a thin and soapy white head. Aroma holds light hops and caramel. Flavor yields delicate honey & toffee maltiness with subtle floral hops. Light in body and super easy to drink. Quite solid overall.

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Photo of scootny
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A crisp and delicious pale ale. It's true to the heritage of a German kolsch while adding a bit of a American hop flourish. Clear and golden inn the glass with a comely white head. Atoms shows off the light pilsner malt and the addition of wheat. Hops are floral and well integrated. Crisp quenching feel with lightly creamy carbonation. A great got weather beer.

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Photo of zeff80
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a fizzy, somewhat cloudy, golden yellow color with a foamy, soapy, white, two-figer head. There were some rings of lace.

S - It smelled of citrus and was quite floral.

T - This was pretty sweet with a nice barley and grain taste. It also had some spicy hop presence.

M - It was sharp and very crisp. A light-bodied beer.

D - This is one of the best Kolsch-style ales that I've ever had. I liked the hop kick that it had.

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Photo of maximum12
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Rec'd this bottle in a trade with the generous EliottJW. The last surviving beer from a recent box that was brimming with Cali goodness.

Pours a nice, clear yellow, although the second glass was clouded by the bottom-feeders. Smell is bare light hops & pale malts.

Yellowtail is mild, pleasant, 75 degrees with only high clouds in the forecast. Light spices, cool sweet malt, crushed saltines without the salt, bare minimum of hopping to give it a gummed bite. Nothing leaps out, but this is a brew that one could sip, sip, sip, sip & sip more while grilling or mowing or clipping or all of the above. Drinkability is an 800 pound gorilla. Crisp, clean, sharp, all those adjectives that describe a good, lower ABV brew apply here.

Very nice beer & an excellent example of a kolsch. Too many of this style have a watery aspect, or lack taste, or are just plain boring. This is good. I likes.

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Photo of AdamBear
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-dark gold with a nice frothy and sticky white head

S-smooth creamy grass and crisp biscuity malts. strong aroma. smells quite decent.

T-comes in with a great flavor of crisp and grainy biscuits. its quite a strong and flavorful taste. it does have a small hint of adjunct lager to it, that isn't exactly a turn off, i think what i'm tasting is actually the european touch to it. that comes more so in the after-taste. almost zero bitterness.

M-creamy medium carbonation with a crisp finish

O-well if you get this because you want a good fresh American Pale Ale, then you'll find that you were fooled by the name. it definitely does taste very much like a kolsch. its definitely tasty for what it is. it goes down easy, but its really missing any quality that begs me to go out and buy more.

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Photo of Apellonious
3.94/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle 4/28/16 poured into a pint glass.

A - Clear golden orange, with a one finger fluffy head that retains well.

S - Grass, crackers, bread, pale malts.

T - Follows the nose. Very crisp and clean, with a grassy/pine aftertaste.

M - Carbonation medium, feel is medium light, almost creamy at times.

O - Adding this to the summertime Kolsch mix.

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Photo of Barleywhiner
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz., this beer is very clear with a light orange tint, there was a decent head that faded away after a minute or two, good amount of carbonation. The smell is very nice, a light citrus fruit that was unexpected. The taste/mouthfeel is somewhat watery, yet not bad. It is very light on the tongue, not really much malt flavor, and leaves a slightly tangy finish that fades about 15 seconds later to a earthy aftertaste. Overall this was a very smooth and well balanced beer, very drinkable.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Allagash flute on 3/29/12

The best by date is smudged but since Ballast Point just came to Ohio, I reckon it's fresh.

Lightly hazy, golden orange color with a one thumb cap of puffy foam. Head retention is thin but keeps a decent layer and lasts. Lace take a while to catch, but once it does it holds thick layers.

The aroma has an enjoyable showing of pithy citrus (orange rind and a touch of lemon) and weavings of grass and cracker. Clean and inviting. The taste is in a similar vein - spicy hop crackle tapers to a medium-range bitterness on the back end. Malts are clean a fairly neutral in light of the hops. Medium light feel. Carbonation is too high for my liking, but it does add to the zestiness of the hops. Finishes pretty clean; it was hoppy at first but as it warms it has lingerings of grain, which is a nice change of pace.

Great drinkability (aside from some of that carbonation, haha). This is one for the IPA light category. Give it a shot.

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Photo of germaniac
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A tasty Kolsch from Ballast Point. Dark yellow gold with a foamy white head, with hints of yeast in the aroma. Smooth and medium bodied with a great light hop bitterness that adds a little spiciness to this easy drinkin' brew. 12 oz bottle from a sixpack purchased at the Mission Valley(San Diego) BevMo.

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Photo of YonderWanderer
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a pale yellow with two fingers of active foam that dissipates fairly quickly.

S: Some sweet malts, and a hint of grassy hops.

T: This follows the smell. The malt is dominant, with some biscuit and sweetness blending nicely. A nice grassy hops comes in and balances it out.

M: Smooth, thin, but that's how it should be.

D: This is a hell of a session brew. Very tasty, and I could see drinking this on a regular basis.

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Photo of billshmeinke
3.96/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

So I didn't read the label before purchasing this one, and apparently it's a Kolsch not an American Pale Ale.

Golden with the tiniest hint of amber in color. Very clear, no effervescence, looks like there are some tiny particles suspended in the beer as well. Finger and a half white finger. that dies down to a layer of foam on top composed of tiny bubbles. Pretty decent lacing as well.

Smells of vague fruitiness (grape?), light pale malts, biscuit/bread scent, a floral and herbal hop aroma and a very light metallic scent too.

Tastes of a light grape fruitiness, sweet pale malts, some biscuit and toasted bread, and herbal/floral/dank hops. Pretty flavorful, and the very light metallic scent does not come through in the taste.

Medium bodied with low carbonation. Silky smooth.

Drinkability is very solid. So this is the first Kolsch I have ever had, so I'm not sure if how I rated this beer is completely fair. I will revisit this beer/review after I have some other Kolsch's to compare it to. Even though I was expecting an American Pale Ale, I found this beer pretty enjoyable.

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Photo of edchicma
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, rich yellow with minimal head. Smell is sweet, malty, inviting. taste is a rich blend of sweet malt on the front with a decent, slightly bitter hop finish. Mouthfeel is almost creamy, slighly chewy. Drinkability is enhanced by the creaminess and light hop finish.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted at the Orange Blossom Festival in Riverside, California. Served very cold on a cold, rainy day. Pours a golden yellow with minimal head. Aroma & flavor follow each other fairly well- there is a nice hops balanced with a light citrusy and buttery tones. A complete lack of sweetness. Drinkability is, well, let's put it this way- my notes say: "yes!!!".

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Photo of BeerManDan
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a weak looking hazy lemon yellow with a very little foam and no lace. The smell of citrus filled the nose with a nice aroma. The taste was of a grapefruit and light flavored hop's. Nice balance of bitterness that feel's like a citrus type of bitterness. I do think that this pale ale taste's better when it cold and not while it warms up!

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Photo of chinabeergeek
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber. no date? (printing of "2202")

hazy golden straw. moderate head fades to wisps and ring. good lacing at first, but less further down the glass.

gentle noble hop aroma and faint peach skin fruitiness.

toast malt flavors mix that peach character. very grassy, faintly citrusy hop, with moderate bitterness. crisp finish with hint of esters.

smooth and drinkable with lively, crisp carbonation.

ok, not bad. the "pale ale" label is misleading however. anyway, seems some of my previous reviews for kolsch might need some updating. will have to re-try a fresh reissdorf for comparison.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
3.98/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Pizza Port, Carlsbad. Poured a clear, bright golden color with a large bubbly white head that slowly settled down to a thin, patchy skim. Mild carbonation seen when iggitated.
Smell was pretty mild but seriously sweet. Had a fruity, sort of apple-crisp note mixed in a light bready malt base aroma.
Taste was a nice blend of a yeasty maltiness and gently spicy fruitiness. No hints of hops until a light bitterness came out in the finish.
Feel was light, crisp and refreshing.
This is a very easy-drinking brew. I found Yellowtail Pale Ale (?) to be a delightful beer.

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Photo of scottyshades
3.98/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy bright lemon color with a tiny white cap. Retention is OK, and the carbonation looks aggressive.

S: Wheaty and grainy malts, a vinous character, and a bunch of different citrus fruits; lemon, orange, grapefruit. Not too bad for a "Kolsch". Also some bready characters on top of a light hop schedule.

T: I really like this beer...Lots of honey right off the bat give this a sweeter side. The flavor is definitely malt-dominant, lending some wheaty and grainy aspects. Light grassy hops to follow. Bready as it warms. Really really light, but it manages to pack in some flavor.

MF/D: Carbonation was not as intense as I expected, which is a good thing. Feel is slightly rough still, but very enjoyable. Highly enjoyable; light body and feel, but very flavorful

Notes: Definitely a new session beer for me (I love finding new session beers), especially on a hot day in the sun.

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California Kölsch from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.54 out of 5 based on 1,057 ratings.
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