Ballast Point “Indra Kunindra”
This seasonal foreign/export-style stout is incredibly unique, designed for the more adventurous of drinkers. It has its roots as a collaboration with a local San Diego home brewer. This particular style is known for its heavy roasted flavors, typically bringing in slightly more alcohol than the average stout, and so additional hopping follows suit. The unusual thing about this beer is the ingredients…Madras curry, cumin, cayenne, coconut, and Kaffir lime leaf! As you might imagine, the resulting aromas are novel and delightful. Curry comes through with abundance, coconut second, vanilla, cumin, brown sugar, hints of spicy cayenne, and port wine.
On the palate, spices immediately jump in with curry leading the way, followed by cumin. Malt flavors suggest a sweetness akin to caramel blended together with dark chocolate. Midway, coconut has a noticeable influence, followed by a touch of vanilla. Hops make a soft-handed sweep of herbal flavors accented by the right amount of bitter and sour to keep with the vibe of the beer. A cayenne spice begins to rise up near the finish, carrying a surprising degree of heat that lingers alongside some residual hop oils. The Kaffir lime leaf finally touches down, dancing with the coconut, curry, cayenne, and cocoa powder in a complementary way. The lime flavor also goes particularly well with the herb-toned hops. Mouthfeel is smooth, grows increasingly dry, climaxes a little crisp, then finishes a little chalky. Cayenne heat builds in the back of the throat from sip-to-sip, which hinders drinkability, but adds yet another dimension to this busy arrangement of flavor.
The main flavor components are taken from Indian cuisine, which is why this actually works. I It’s a little surprising just how well each ingredient slowly appears in sequence. I sort of wish they had just committed to a double stout instead, because I feel more sweet malt and greater emphasis on the roast would add needed depth. Considering the complexity of ingredients, Ballast Point has pulled this off considerably well. Though I myself like it, I can’t recommend it, because I know only a select audience would really be into it. If you like Indian food you’ll be much more likely to enjoy this. For those with the courage to indulge in these exotic herbs and spices in the context of a stout, I commend you.
San Diego, California