Friday Froth: The Tale Of The Commodore from Ballast Point

James Gribbon

Hello! Welcome back to Friday Froth, 2016 edition: the semi-weekly beer column eagerly awaited by literally tens of people. This week, as in most weeks, I will start off with discussion on a topic which has nothing at all to do with beer. Continue reading at your own peril. 

I have a friend who moved to Germany because of a girl. I think we can all agree emigrating from the country of your birth to one across a large ocean whose language you don't speak while relying on an intimate interpersonal relationship for success and happiness with no fall-back plan usually works out perfectly, and I'm sure you'll all be relieved to learn that has been precisely the case with him. If anything, he has more hair on his head than when he left - a fact about which we can all be magnanimous, and definitely not introduce small amounts of arsenic into the care packages of American peanut butter and bourbon whiskey we send him, because we are not envious monsters. 

[silently counts to ten]

Another truth which has never caused the green tint of grasping jealously to sicken our personal visage is the private bar he had built into the coworking space he owns, known as The Commodore Room. There are record players and fancy stemware and he hosts cocktail parties cool enough to attract the sponsorship of Hendrick's gin and, no: you're grinding your teeth! 

[takes a sip]

[breathes deeply]

Now that you've all calmed down, I'd like to continue, if you don't mind. 

SO! It was under these circumstances that I happened to pass by a stacked display of Ballast Point The Commodore American stout. [You hear that?! Stacks of American craft beer! I bet you can't find that in Baden-Württemberg!] 

Naturally, I had to have it. 

The Commodore is an "American stout" as far as I can tell, because it's neither heavy as a Russian Imperial Stout, or dry as the Irish variety, and has been noticeably hopped. It used to be a draft-only offering in relatively few markets, but was popular enough to earn its own bottling (and label art) this past fall. 

When poured, the black color and tan head hide almost everything except the beer's west coast roots. There are just too many aromatic essential oils for this to be mistaken for an old world stout, and they waft right up off the glass. The Commodore has a medium body, but the malts have undergone a dark, heavy roast - less "Dunkin' Donuts coffee," and more "espresso you forgot on the stove while you took a shower." The hops play shrinking violet in the flavor, but the acreage of dry, nutty malts are smoothed out with the glaze of fixed oils they left behind. This, then, is a deep end of the pool, lead sap of a stout, despite its gentle 6.5% ABV.

The Commodore is a product of BP's "Roots to Boots" experimental employee brewing program, joining beers like Yellowtail and Sculpin, and lending proof to the concept great ideas can come from anywhere. Even from half broken down ex-hippies from Iowa who totally lucked into marrying angelic foreigners and against all rules of nature and good sense are now players in the European cocktail scene. 

Eff you, Craig.

See you out there.