Ale Asylum brewmaster Dean Coffey and head brewer Chris Riphenburg have a right to be proud of Ballistic's complexity after their careful recipe calculations and brew time.
The latest creation by Ale Asylum brewmaster Dean Coffey and head brewer Chris Riphenburg just found its way to shelves around Madison. An IPA named Ballistic, it's a seasonal offering designed to peak the curiosity of hop heads by melding the bitter bite of the Asylum's flagship brew Hopalicious and the flavor complexity of its Ambergeddon. "Anyone who makes an IPA does it for the hop head, because heavily hopped beers are really an acquired taste," declares Coffey.
Ballistic offers a unique treat for those who enjoy assertive bitter and citrus aroma and flavor. However, a limited release means it won't be available for too long, so get this beer while it's still here. When the brew first appeared at one of my favorite beer retailers, more than two-and-a-half cases were sold in just a few hours, prompting me to ask for the empty shelf to be restocked.
What is it? Ballistic from Ale Asylum of Madison.
Style: The American India Pale Ale (IPA) is a beer with a pale golden to deep reddish amber color with floral hop aroma and flavor. The flavor emphasis of this style is centered on hops, which come through with their herbal and citrus characters. All, or at least the majority of the hops used to make it are varieties grown in the United States, making for the "American" style distinction. Contemporary IPAs are based upon a traditional style that emerged in the 1700s when British brewers found that using high amount of hops, which act a preservative, would help their beer withstand long sea voyages to India and elsewhere around the British Empire.
Background: Ballistic is made with all U.S.-grown hops, namely a variety known as Amarillo that offers strong floral and citrus aromas and flavors. "I wanted an IPA that showcases hops, but with a complex malty balance," explains Coffey. This beer certainly achieves his expectations, delivering an assertive grapefruit hoppiness, along with a warm backbone from its 7.4% ABV. While somewhat dry in the finish, it's a surprisingly clean beer with minimal lingering aftertaste.
Brewing Ballistic was a lot of work. Riphenburg was working the brew kettle just a couple of weeks ago, and as a part of the process he had to pull an all-nighter. The actual boil began around 3 p.m. on the afternoon of February 20, and he wasn't able to finish his brewing shift until after 7 a.m. the next morning. Coffey and Riphenburg have a right to be proud of Ballistic's complexity after their careful recipe calculations and brew time. As a seasonal, the brewery hopes it'll remain available through April, and sells for around $10 per six-pack.
- Aroma: Spicy, hoppy, with lots of citrus notes up front.
- Appearance: Hazy ruby copper color with a bubbly tan head.
- Texture: Medium to full bodied, bubbly and round.
- Taste: Hoppy citrus tones with assertive grapefruit bitterness.
- Finish/Aftertaste: A complex ending with some firm malty underpinnings, yet the hops still finish strong.
Glassware: The English pint glass, or nonik, with its ridge near the top makes for something to grip while you sip and appreciate this hoppy ale.
Pairs well with: Ballistic cries out for an entree with some spice, especially hot seasonings. The strong citrus qualities will match with strong sausages and sharp cheeses. Dishes that will stand up well to all the bitterness include sausages, pepperoni pizza or a plate of jambalaya steeped heavy in Creole seasonings.
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Consensus: A- (excellent) from Beer Advocate and has not yet received enough ratings to be evaluated on