OK, let’s get the obvious out of the way: there’s something fishy about Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale. Now that I’ve said that, I can go on to tell you that Ballast Point calls this an International Pale Ale, whatever that is. This is the first time that I’ve tasted Grunion Pale Ale, though the big news about Ballast Point these days is not any one of its brands, but rather that it has been acquired by beverage giant Constellation Brands for a whopping $1 Billion dollars, roughly the price of a few cases of Sculpin.
Constellation itself is quite strange. In addition to owning wineries like Robert Mondavi and Clos Du Bois and spirits brands like Svedka Vodka, they also own several major beer brands, though that’s where things get tricky. Constellation owns the rights to certain brands like Corona and Negra Modelo, this stemming from the AB Inbev acquisition of Mexico’s Modelo giant and American anti-trust concerns. Be that as it may, Constellation undoubtedly owns Ballast Point outright, making it in truth the biggest gen in their beery crown.
Back to Grunion Pale Ale. Here’s what Ballast Point says about it on their website:
A new Pale Ale where hops run the show.
Our Grunion Pale Ale wasn’t born on a beach, but in a backyard. Originating from an employee-only home brew contest, this award-winning hoppy pale ale is named after the tiny local fish known for late night frolics on shore. A pair of new hop varieties lend strong yet balanced summer melon aromas and herbal flavors, while a soft caramel malt sweetness holds it all together.
Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale has an alcohol content of 5.5% with 35 IBUs. I paid $6.50 for a full mug pour at Taco Mac. I passed on it in bottles at Total Wine because of the ridiculous price of $13.99 a six-pack.
My mug of Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale arrived a brilliant golden orange color with a medium sized head of creamy foam and a vibrant nose of pineapple, passion fruit and a hint of resin. Taking a sip, I got a light biscuit maltiness with a touch of caramel followed by more passion fruit than the nose offered, a bit more pineapple and finally citric grapefruit. Not much malt here though; mores the pity for that.
I found Ballast Point Grunion to be a decent enough pale ale, and while I understand the dearth of malt is intentional, I think the beer suffers for it. The price is also a factor here, I can get Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a far superior beer in my opinion, for $1 less on draft and $5 to $6 less for a six-pack. To be fair, I enjoyed my mug of Grunion, and it served quite well to wash down a Kenmore Burger smothered in Swiss cheese, mushrooms, onions, and crispy bacon. At the price, though, I probably would not buy it again, certainly not in the bottle.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.