Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

California Kölsch | Ballast Point Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
80
good
417 Reviews
California KölschCalifornia Kölsch
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States
ballastpoint.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
417
Ratings:
1,317
Avg:
3.54
pDev:
24.58%
 
 
Wants:
48
Gots:
267
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 417 | Ratings: 1,317
Photo of BrokenEdge
3.28/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I had this back when it was titled a Pale Ale with the words "kolsch" buried underneath. The name change is perfect for this beer in several ways. 1) It really is more of a kolsch than an APA so I'm glad they put that in the forefront and 2) a boring name for a boring beer. This isn't bad, but just so average for it's price point.

Pours a pale yellow gold color, with a thin off white head, and faint hints of soapy lacing. Looks not unlike a lot of macro beers, except slightly more gold in color. Smell is weak but has some mild yeasty spiciness and lemon. Taste has more of the same, with some grassy notes, white fruits (apples, pears, etc), and biscuity maltiness. Faint noble hops, and generally tilting in favor of sweetness. Feels pretty light with high carbonation, but still mostly smooth going down. Crisp fruity finish. Overall, I think this beer is just not worth the cost (about $16 a 6 pack) and there are so many more great pilsner style beers that I'm not sure why anyone would spend so much on this one. Not a hit for me.

 1,042 characters

Photo of WoodButcher
3.42/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Ok, round two of my intro to Ballast Point. Poured from a bottle, a hazy blonde that's a bit darker than traditional Kolsch styles. Tight head that quickly dissipated. Nose was yeasty, mild spiciness. Taste was yeasty, hint of cloves, a bit of fruit/banana sweetness and slight malt, and a modest bitter late in the finish and the mild lactic taste characteristic of the style. Mouthfeel was nice with fine but moderate carbonation.

Overall this is a pleasant drinking beer, good for a session and hews close to the Kolsch style. Pro hone of the better American examples. Now, if they can do something about their stupidly high prices. This is a good beer, but there are others as good and for much less. I can't help but feel like Ballast Point's following is a bit cultish.

 778 characters

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.46/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the Pinon Pub at Whole Foods in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Served in a shaker glass.

Good golden-color and clarity but not much head. Smell was faint on everything, just light sweet malt notes and hints of bread and biscuit.

A bit more on the taste, grassy hops most notably. Very nondescript in a way that a non-craft drinker could enjoy.

Drinkability was pretty impressive. Drank very lightly. Easy to kill a pint and didn't have a filling effect.

 469 characters

Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
3.72/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a mixed 12-pack of Ballast Point beers at my local Trig's Cellar 70, and this was one of them. The packaging states that this one is good for another four months. Poured right from the fridge into my Lowenbrau Willi Becher glass.

L: Pours a golden amber--crystal clear--with about a half-inch of eggshell head that persists for a good long while and leaves very little lacing on the glass. There is a flaky particulate present, along with the profuse visible carbonation.

S: Bright bread-like grain notes in the nose--pilsner malts are clearly present. There are also some nice fruit notes of citrus and subtle banana. A bit of grassy hop notes coming through, as well.

T: Sweet bready malts with a definite pilsner profile are foremost on the palate. There are subtle notes of banana and lemongrass playing around the edges. The middle has a good deal of sweetness, with just a bit of that lemon-citrus and grassy quality continuing. The close has more of the sweetbread malt, along with a bit more of that grassy hop flavor and something a bit more astringent, leaving a bit of bitter lingering on the palate.

F: This one is on the lighter side of medium-bodied, with some nice creaminess thanks to a solid level of carbonation. There's just a bit of a watery quality that comes through toward the end of the glass.

O: I've had only a handful of Kolsch-style ales before, so my review should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I will say that I enjoyed the malt bill on this one--it's sweet and easy-drinking. The hops aren't too assertive, but they supply a nice counterbalance to the malts. While this probably won't be a beer I go out of my way to find again, I did enjoy it.

 1,701 characters

Photo of Jon_Hendricks
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer pours a clear gold color.

Overall: The aroma is a toasted malt smell with a hint of citrus. The taste has malt and citrus along with a buttered biscuits finish with a very slight hop bite. This is one refreshing beer recommended during the summer.

 270 characters

Photo of Gobearswalter34
3.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brilliant yellow, with a thin, frothy, white head.
Smells of lemon and grassy malt and how.
A very pleasant kolsch that has a great mix of malt and hop.
A very smooth presentation that would improve making the hop and malt a little more prominent.

 255 characters

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."

 484 characters

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

Pours a hazy, golden-yellow with a medium-thin biege head. LIttle to no lacing left behind. The aroma features a tasty backdrop of lemon, citrus, and a balance of light hops and malts. Taste is a smooth transition between lemon and citrus, and sweet malts and hops. Very well balanced and subtle, and yet fun to drink. Mouth feel is good. Not too harsh in the carbonation, it's easy to drink, and is not watery. Overall, a good rendition of the Kolsch style of beer. It's easy to drink on a warm summer day spent grilling, tail gating, or to wet your palette after a long run or ride.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

 611 characters

Photo of Beejay
3.43/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Yellow body with a slight amount of haze, light tan head with a rocky top.

S: A bit of malt, as well as some very pilsner like aromas. Light fruitiness as well as a touch of a syrup smell.

T: Lightly malty, clean, with a touch of a floral bouquet. Finish has some light caramel, and perhaps a touch of orange.

M: Medium body, fairly high carbonation, and a touch of cling in the finish.

O: Overall pretty good though somewhat basic, nothing wrong with that. A good beer if you don't want to think about your beer.

 525 characters

Photo of Strike00
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

L: pours light amber, almost yellowish.
S: smells sweet and lager style yeast
T: Malt driven with a nice hop presence. an underlying sweetness that I actually like
F: pretty smooth with fairly high carbonation. Dry finish.

O: Not too bad. im not going to seek it out but an enjoyable, refreshing beer.

 305 characters

Photo of Wer34truh
3.51/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a yellow fizzy color, featuring quite a bit of visible carbonation. The head is tiny, almost non-existent.

Smells predominantly of grains, but also some distinct malt-tones. Generally speaking, the smell is quite sweet with some fruits, primarily banana.

Taste is balanced, and quite subtle at that. Like the smell, moderate-to-low grains and malt dominate, with some distinct banana-sweetness being present in the aftertaste. Conventional and not very exciting, yet certainly enjoyable. Mouthfeel is very much in the German tradition, that being incredibly light and carbonation is kept at a medium.

Boring, forgettable, yet solid.

 644 characters

Photo of BrownAleBollocks
4.03/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a wonderful clear golden color with a one finger white head. Aroma is sweet bready malt with some spicy noble hop character. Taste is lightly fruity, floral, spicy, grassy, all the noble hop characteristics. Mouthfeel is light, but spritzy on the palate with carbonation. Overall, a wonderful kolsch/pale ale hybrid that deserves respect and a spot in every true beer lovers graces. Doesn't have the huge hopping, barrel aged, adjunct pieces, but that is what makes it special.

 488 characters

Photo of TH28
3.41/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle. 11/15/15 bottle date. Appearance: Crystal clear light golden, with thick white head and nice lacing. Aroma: Grainy, cracker, subtle pear like fruitiness. Taste: Light, cracker like malt sweetness that turns to a strong spicy bitterness that lingers long after the swallow. Mouthfeel: Medium body with a light creaminess and moderate carbonation. Finish: Fairly dry on the finish with a strong spicy bitterness that lingers. Overall: Has the look and smell of a true Kolsch, but seems to have the bitterness level of an APA. Still a pleasant, easy drinking beer, but balance shifts more towards the hoppy side than any other Kolsch I’ve had.

 656 characters

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.87/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a fluted pilsener glass.

The beer glistens with a crystal clear copper body with constant rising bubbles. The light cream colored head is thick, almost meringue-like, and basically never recedes. Random spots and patches of foam lacing remain. The aroma is grassy, and covered with citrus and faint peppery spice. The taste is much like the aroma, but a bready, semi-sweet malt component comes out a little more. The finish is citrus (lemon peel) and white pepper. The beer goes down clean and crisp.

Overall, this is really clean and easy to drink -- great for a summer weekend. I'm having it in the dead of winter and still appreciate it.

 655 characters

Photo of flyingpig
3.87/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

355ml Can from Brewdog DogHouse, Glasgow (£3.00):
This one was a very nice & crisp lager in the kölsch style with a smooth & drinkable palate that was also clean, crisp & easy to drink. Despite being slightly misled by the name of this one , I certainly wasn't left disappointed with some nice lager malts, subtle hops & a few touches of sweetness all combining well to make this an excellent beer.

 400 characters

Photo of Gabriel_Vaughn
2.85/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

A: golden straw, slightly hazy

S: tad fruity like dried fruit, sweet

T: fruit again, stale not to my liking

M: meh

O: I'd love to try their other pales but I'm no fan of this fellow

 185 characters

Photo of Hahnin
4.5/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

BP is the friggin bomb. I love pretty much everything they do. This is a classic beer. It is solid, good drinkability, but nothing fancy or anything to keep you coming back.

 173 characters

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

I like it for what it is - very balanced pale ale. The smell isn't too impressive, but usually these types of beers aren't. The taste is pretty yeasty and bready, but it's very well-balanced and still has that Ballast Point crispness. This is a very drinkable beer and pretty refreshing overall.

 295 characters

Photo of vabeerguy
3.86/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a growler into a pilsner glass. Noticed immediately that a straight hard pour produced too much foam but it dissipated quickly. The first taste produced noticeable lacing. The color looks like it could be your average pilsner or kolsch. The name indicates it is a pale ale but it does not seem to fit into that category. That said, the beer is very tasty and refreshing. If you are looking for a hoppy or bitter beer (like an APA or IPA), than this would not be the one. If you are looking for a beer or two (or more) for a hot summer day, this would be a good selection.

 590 characters

Photo of beergoot
3.74/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Gold colored body; gently rising carbonation; sticky, fluffy, white head; strings of lacing along the glass. Cracker and biscuit aroma. Toasted grain flavors; nice hop bitterness. Medium body; warm and soft on the palate.

A straight-forward kölsch-styled ale that hits the appearance, scent, and flavor of this classic German-styled beer. It has a crisp, clean taste, seems well-balanced, and is definitely an easy drinker. Very enjoyable...

 443 characters

Photo of Urk1127
2.05/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

-Hazy yellow
-Pretzel dough, salt, sweetness, grass, grains
-Odd doughy sugar sweetness, grassy
-Creamy, fizzy

-did not care for the weird sweetness, but i do like other Kolsch

 178 characters

Photo of Strat58cat
3.65/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Very good pale ale. It is light, balanced, refreshing and delicious. That's what I want in a pale ale.

It's a clear, golden color in the evening light of my house. Lots of head will come if you work at it by splashing it into the bottom of the glass, but it cannot retain for long. This beer does not lace at all in my glass Samuel Adams glass.

The smell is delicious and balanced. It's very reminiscent of a Boston Lager, but a little more subdued.

The taste is crisp, clean, refreshing, balanced. Again, the balance is along the lines of a Boston Lager although this is an ale. There is not as much going on, but this ale is light and very refreshing.

The feel is medium bodied. It's not at all thick. This ale was neither watery nor heavy.

Overall, a great, light, refreshing ale. My feeling is that lighter beers are the forte of Ballast Point. I do think their famous IPA is a misfire, but their original pale ale is an excellent choice for a very low-maintenance brew.

 990 characters

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

 229 characters

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.

 662 characters

Photo of irrevjim
3.56/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

look;nice 1" head that goes fast, thin lacing, pale golden with visible big bubbles
smell; bread, spicy, pepper, buttery rolls
taste;medium malt, a little hops, hint of banana, nicely balanced but not a lot going on
feel; a little bubbly, medium light, smooth finish despite bubbles
overall; i'd grab this on draft out of curiosity if it were available as i like pale ales, nothing special but nothing bad, a solid choice but from sierra nevada to obscurity there are some amazing pales out there

 496 characters

California Kölsch from Ballast Point Brewing Company
3.54 out of 5 based on 1,317 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
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!

    Subscribe