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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 r12ax7
4.37/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a relatively bitter pale ale, great if your a hop head and if you like Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA. This beer was very crisp and refreshing but certainly flavorful; as perfect for a warm summer day as a snowy day in January. This is the kind of beer I could easily drink all day.

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Photo of shand
4.35/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

I'm sure lots of people pick this up looking for an APA and are disappointed. I picked this up looking for a good Kolsch, I hope it doesn't let me down. It looks good, it's got the golden body, high carbonation, and white head that are indicative of the style. The aroma is nice and crisp, with bready malts, zesty hops, and some light citrus aspects. The taste is also fantastic, it's a nearly perfect Kolsch style. It's got nice crisp, noble hoppy sort of taste at first, that seamlessly crosses over to a wheat and bread finish. The mouthfeel is great, it's perfectly crisp. The drinkability is very good. It's a great Kolsch. A really great Kolsch. No idea why it took me so long to give this a try ... maybe finally figuring out how to read Ballast Point's date codes so I could get a fresh bottle was the kick I needed.

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Photo of sj660
4.34/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A thick white foam that retains and leaves laces over a yellow clear (but not perfectly so) liquid. Smells softly of fruit, but otherwise clean. The flavor is grainy, slightly sweet, low bitterness on finish and a bit of spice. The flavors are smooth.

Lower carbonation despite huge head, lighter body, very slight pucker.

Why this is called a "pale ale" I haven't a clue. If you're making craft brews, beer snobs are your audience. Tell us it's a Kölsch! Drinks easy and has a surprising complexity of flavor without all the bitterness. Definitely fills a niche.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.33/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured an ever so slightly cloudy light, pale amber with a med head and tiny bubbles whitch seemed perfect for this style.
Aroma is sweetly malt with a very faint citrus.
Mouthfeel is crisp from the carbonation.
Taste is first sweet malts, then sharp hops, followed with a slightly banana and lemon taste. Actually, much more balanced than it sounds. The flavor of this brew is very complex, but pleasingly so.
Aftertaste is drying hops with a lingering pleasant bitterness.
Although this probably has more of a hops signature than is usually found in this style, I found it extremely refreshing and qualfable.
I could drink these all summer long
NOTE: I just read up a little on Yellowtale brewing from their web site and found that they use 5% wheat in this beer...THAT is the crispness I was tasting...there is definately a bread thing going on in the taste and aftertaste. Wonderful!

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Photo of seanh99
4.33/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Server from 12 oz bottle into Sam Adams Glass
A: Golden/ Dark yellow, very clear, Off White head with medium bubbles. Head disipated fairly quickly
S: Floral, malty and a little fruitiness in the background, no real hop scent.
T: Delicious, a bit sweet, simple bit of malt and some esters from the yeast with the hop bitterness being,slight and very late.
M: Aquious, crisp. refreshing.
D: This is a great drinker, I would love to sit out on the patio or out by someones pool and drink these all afternoon.

The taste on this is hard for me to describe other than to say it tastes like "really good beer".

I had this for the first time at the ACBF and when out and spent the $12.50 for six. I drank them all this weekend. I will have more in my fridge tomorrow afternoon.
I think I like Kölsch

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Photo of Pittsburgh
4.3/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up on a whim the other day, and I am glad I did.

Pours a nice golden brown, a bit darker than other pale ales I have had, has a bit more flavor as well. Seems a bit thicker than others, but still has the bitterness necessary.

Very smooth and clean with a hint of lemon/citrus, nice and easy drinking as well, goes down smooth, could be a perfect version of a summer beer for me, it probably does skew my review a bit that its 85 and humid and this is a post 6 hour test review, but I am really feeling this beer right now.

I may come back for a follow up later to make sure I am not overly high on this, but I like the flavor on this pale ale, I think it has a little more flavor than others I've had and I like what they've done with it.

I am definitely getting this again.

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Photo of Onenote81
4.3/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a clear gold with a good-sized 2-finger head on top. Decent retention leaves some pretty lacing spots and rings. Smells of grassy hops, and buttery grains.

The mouth is crisp with a medium-high amount of carbonation. Flavor is of buttered biscuits finished with a sharp hop bite. This is one of the more refreshing beers I've had this summer. This will be a regular for barbecues and ballgames.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4.27/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium clear yellow with a nice foamy head that left a little lace.

Good bready and light malt aromas, with a bit of yeast in the mix.

BIg surprise with the level of sweet malt and light fruit in this one (for a Kolsch). Nice, complex shift in flavors with each sip. Light bready flavor, then some bitter hop leaf, then some sweet maltiness and light fruit, turning to a dry end. What more could you ask?

Medium body, to medium-light. This was a bomber from around the grill, and it was perfect. Great drinkable summer beer. Went down extremely easy, and had no harsh edges. Great balance between the sweet and dry. WTF is wrong with me. I'vbe been staring at this beer on the shelves for abou a year before finally pulling the trigger and buying it yesterday. Well worth it. I will definitely explore other offerings from these guys. Buy this.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.25/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I'm not sure I get the low scores either, other than frustrations over A) it's actually a kolsch-style ale, not a pale ale and/or B) it's not a big old hop bomb of a beer. Regardless, I thought this was clean and delicious and the description from the brewer incredibly apt -- "...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." The German hops natural spice and grassiness work well with that understated citrus fruit note from the ale yeast, but never cover up a clean malt base. Will be reaching for this one very often indeed this summer.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.25/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into snifter. Best by 01/19/13. Thanks for bringing these over, Matt.

A: Pours a very light shade of amber with a finger of frothy white head that faded into a soft film.
S: Big kolsh nose with notes of light malts and toasted grains.
T: Dry grains, creamy oatmeal taste, slightly sweet caramel, tons of wheat, and mellow fruity hops. Very creamy, complex (for the style) and smooth. The finish is full of pepper spices and the aftertaste is that of wheat and fruit.
M: Creamy mouthfeel from soft carbonation, medium-light body, drying and refreshing mouthfeel. Very smooth, light, and drinkable all-around. J
O: A pleasant surprise. I’d be disappointed if this was a true pale ale as the hops are too mellow and the wheat and grains are too prominent. However, if you’re looking for a very flavorful light beer give this one a try.

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Photo of NicholasMiller
4.25/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I first had this beer at a pasta cafe on coronado in san diego and man was I in love. although it isn't the typical english style pale ale but a german kolsch style, I thought it was so good they could of called it a porter. everything about this beer is good to great. I drank so much of it this summer that my local bevmo started stocking it in the fridges there. I recommend this beer to everyone.

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Photo of BeerRun13
4.23/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a super clear golden copper color. Has a small white head that stays, as it is being fed by a constant flow of bubbles rising to the top. Good lacing.
Smells crisp and clean. Malty, biscuit aroma, and German hops?
Wonderful flavor. Nice balance between the malt and hops.
Light bodied. Good carbonation. Smooth AND CRISP FINISH.
What a good refreshing beert. Highly drinkable, and perfect for a hot Summer day.

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Photo of mactrail
4.18/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted this at a German restaurant in Ocean Beach, where it is a house draft called "Kaiserhof Kölsch Pale Ale."

Crisp and slightly hoppy. Such a nice clean taste. Very light body. Pale golden color in the mug, nice lacing. Like a lager with a rich tangy flavor. Flowery nose. Malty, yet delicate. Best Kölsch I've tried in a long time, not knowing what the heck it was. Score one for the local lads, but it really is a highly decent drinkable light beer and well worth a try.

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Photo of gabeerfan
4.18/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thought I would crack this open on the first hot day we've had this year.
Pours a slightly hazy gold color with a somewhat fizzy head that only leaves a very thin ring.
Very subtle aromas. Some lemon and orange juice, very light grassiness. It took several whiffs to even get that much.
Flavors are stronger than the aroma would let on. Lots of lemon juice, little bit of honey, saltine crackers, and grassy hops.
Light bodied. Nice carbonation.
Very drinkable. Light bodied, good flavors and a somewhat low ABV make this a great summertime beer.
Too bad this isn't available in GA yet, I would get this beer all throughout the summer. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.17/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L (4.25) - A bit more of an orangey yellow, and has a nice white foam on top.
S (4) - Not a lot of aroma, but a little bit of hops are noticed
T (4.25) - I find this very well balanced between hop and malt. If you think about the malt, you notice that, but start considering the hops and they pop out. Very well balanced.
F (4) - Easy drinking beer, carb'ed about right.
O (4.25) - All in all, I liked this beer. I'm kinda hit or miss on some BP stuff, and this is much more "hit."

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Photo of Catracho5
4.15/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce can poured into a pint glass

A: Pale, golden straw color with a white head, lots of carbonation streaming off the bottom, slight lacing, a really good looking beer.

A: Straw, hay, malts, slight bitterness, slight fruit aroma, smells pretty good.

T: Hay, grain, malts, dry, slight bitterness, there is a hint of pears, finishes dry and malty, fairly complex for a pale ale.

M: Smooth mouthfeel, easy drinking, dry finish.

O: This is a quality beer, a little different than other pale ales I've tried but good, more grainy and malty than it is citrus and easy drinking, another great beer from Ballast Point and new beer I will definitely reach for.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.15/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At long last, nepotism rears its ugly head on The CANQuest (TM)! For those not in the know, I write for Ale Street News (and others) while my cousin, Colby Chandler, is the specialty brewer at Ballast Point B.C. It has been a closely-unguarded secret for some time and I have written about our relationship as well as making appearances with Colby at various venues and events. He knows of my affinity for CANned beer and especially craft CANs, so when they began CANning their beers, he knew precisely who to send some for a fair and balanced review.

From the CAN: "Handcrafted & CANned in San Diego, California"; "Dedicated to the Craft"; "The Beer That Launched Ballast Point"; "Our original Pale Ale is a rich golden brew, crafted with aromatic German hops and rounded out with a blend of American and Munich malts. While it's hopped like a lager, we ferment it like an ale to create a smooth, bright taste that has just a hint of fruit and spice. It's extremely drinkable, like a Kolsch should be. And complex, like a good craft beer demands."

The Crack revealed yet another brimful craft CAN and I was ready to see what was inside. An inverted Glug later, curtailed midway through as it threatened to overflow the sides of the glass, and I had a massive finger-and-a-half of French Vanilla-colored head with good retention in the face of today's humidity. Color was a deep, rich gold with NE-plus quality clarity, allowing me to see into the future.

I will be returning to the site of the creation of the term, "NE-quality clarity", which refers to one being able to read the Sunday comics through it, a level of clarity used by the brewer at Empyrean BC in Lincoln, NE to describe the kind of beer his patrons wanted in 2006 when I visited. I will be going back in late-February 2015 for a joint birthday celebration with Val MidWest who turns 21 y/o on Valentine's Day of that year while I will hit the big 5-Oh on the 25th. The party is planned for Yia Yia's and Old Chicago on Saturday, 28 Feb 2015 if anyone wants to join us.

While I was typing, the head fell, allowing me to lean in for a good whiff. The nose had a distinct biscuit malt/bready yeast quality, like freshly baked bread or biscuits. Yum! Mouthfeel was medium and the initial flavor was of mixed fruit, but followed with a subdued yeasty spiciness. It was like JuicyFruit gum, but with a bite. Finish was semi-sweet and highly refreshing on this hazy, humid day. Of the two so far (Longfin Lager) and this one, I am giving the majority of the cooler space to this, but neither really trip my trigger the way that the next two CAN.

The following is my original Bottle review dtd 12-31-2009

It arrived with a finger of bone-white head with good retention. Color was a bright golden-yellow with NE-quality clarity (although that is redundant when using the term "bright" to describe a beer). Nose had an interesting tang, a little sweet, as though the hops and yeast were fighting it out. Mouthfeel was medium with a sweetish, spicy black pepper taste on the tongue. Finish was dry, but not overly so.

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Photo of BOSMECH
4.15/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

got this before making dinner and it was very good and smooth.
A lite to dark amber in color and the head was about 1 inch then weny away.
S has a malt smell and then a hint of hoops but mostly malt.
T very smooth with the malt going down.
O very nice beer to have with any kind of party or function and very smooth to drink.

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Photo of mjurney
4.15/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark gold color, slight haze. Medium carbonation. Small head.

Cut grass, grainy, slight herbal, crisp, clean.

Semi-sweet, grassy, grainy, hay, touch of toasted malts. Just a little fruity yeast. Hop bitterness is mild, mostly spicy-herbal. Finish is dry and crisp. Light-medium bodied, crisp, refreshing, highly drinkable.

It's a very good Kolsch!

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Photo of tigg924
4.14/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: clear, orange-yellow in color, minimal head, low carbonation

Smell: tropical fruits and toasted malt

Taste: tropical fruits, toasted malt, caramel, honey, and a bit of bread

Mouthfeel: high carbonation, light body, very sweet

Drinkability: I could have several of these. Nice, sweet, and a bit fruity for the style. A good warm day beer, I could have a six.

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Photo of timtim
4.12/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i have to agree with the previous reviewer's description. this one is very biscuity ,and the floral hops are a perefect accessory to the malt. hints of sweetness along with everything else make for a slightly unusual but quite refreshing and delicious beer. this is for sure not a dieseldorf, but very good in it's own right. another quality beer from a brewery that i wish would focus on their strengths and not what they think the masses want.

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Photo of LittleDon
4.11/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

An imperial pint at Monk's Kettle, San Francisco.

Well done, but boring. Golden color, clear, decent head retention. Grainy aroma, what you'd expect from the style. A bit of carbonation up front, but not too much. Slight bitterness in the middle, clean finish. Better balance than most of the Kolschs I've had and not quite as grainy. Medium to medium light body. It would make an excellect everyday summer drink, not special, but very drinkable.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.1/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Revisit: 28 Jul 16
12 oz. Bottle

Pours a pretty nice clean/clear dark golden yellow color, very nice carbonation, with a pretty nice creamy one-finger white head, which also leaves some sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some hop notes, citrusy. The taste is malty, slightly hoppy, with some citrus notes. Medium body. Overall, a tasty brew, a nice thirst quencher.

Pours a clear golden orange/yellow color, nice carbonation, tiny fizzy/creamy white head, some sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is slightly sweet, hoppy/malty, spicy, and some caramel. The taste is soury though, slightly hoppy, some spices thrown in and caramel. The finish is dry. Medium body. Drinkable, I bought this thinking is was a Pale Ale, WRONG! Not really a fan of Kolsch brew's.

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Photo of washburnkid
4.08/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Picked up a 6er of these at Berkeley Andronico's for a great price.

A: A finger of white, frothy head over hazy, semi-unfiltered dark yellow to light golden. Thin layer of head hangs around.
S: Sweet malts with honey, and a small bite of that pils grassy hop characteristic.
T: Grainy at first. Sweet honey comes through with the grassy hops to balance. I get the slightest hint of hops, and they really add something special to this beer. Small note of metallic.
M: Pretty crisp carbonation, and light-bodied like a lager.
D: Very refreshing! And at 4.60%ABV, this is one beer that you can literally get lost in all day. Seemingly perfect for the style.

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Photo of BrewerB
4.08/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured into an AJ Fruh stange. Light golden color with excellent clarity. Formed a 1-2 finger white head with superb retention. Visible carbonation streams up the body of the beer.

S - Moderate noble hops in the nose well balanced by a pilsner malt character. Slightly floral.

T - Moderately bitter, well-balanced brew. Pilsner graininess is off-set by a moderate floral/noble hop character. Bitterness is moderate. Finishing dry with a lingering grainy flavor. Touch of saltine crackers.

M - Medium bodied, moderately carbonated. Smooth.

D - This one goes down easy. Is it just the memories conjured up by my authentic Fruh glassware? Nah...this is actually a refreshing beer. Well balanced, nice pilsner character pairing with a floral hop profile. Not quite a world-class example but a damn fine beer none the less.

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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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