Sea Rose – Tart Cherry Wheat Ale
Ballast Point Brewing
I KNOW that I start a lot of these reviews with descriptions of the weather and season, but I’m going to go ahead and say that’s just me flexing my artistic license. Besides, what dictates the flow of beer more than the rhythm of the seasons? In this case, oncoming summer means an onrushing barrage of the light and crisp- be they hoppy, fruity, or wheaty. Ballast Point is a California brewery with a nautical bent, so a seashore-themed beer that is tart and refreshing was the perfect choice to carry us into June.
The Brewer’s Pitch:
Sea Rose is no mere beer- it’s an EXPERIMENT. Ballast Point gives their employees opportunities to brew test batches of new beers as part of the R&D process and it was one of these that gave us Sea Rose. It hits the sweet spot, so to speak, between the more common extremes of fruit beers. The body is an American Wheat and thus is light and clean, effervescent on the tongue and not bogging down in syrupy sweetness. Meanwhile fresh cherry juice sweetens it slightly and gives a fruity nose and a slightly tart finish in conjunction with light hopping, never becoming overly tart. It’s designed to be easy to enjoy and not overly challenging, just a uniquely pleasurable sessionable beer.
Sea Rose pours clear and bubbly and barely-pink; a rose gold that any millennial couldn’t help but love. The nose is bright and acidic like a sour with faint musty and roasty elements lurking way down under the tang. The beer is incredibly light and crisp. It tingles on the tongue without coating it and bites the back of the palate with carbonation. The sour notes in the aroma are misleading- while the beer has bite, it’s not particularly tart. At first it’s almost ethereal, moving across the tongue quickly and leaving nothing behind. As it develops, though, the cherry begins to emerge and it becomes clear the light tartness isn’t from lactobacillus but rather from the blush of wild cherry infusing the back end with mellow fruitiness.
I was right- this is a GREAT early summer beer. It’s not going to aggressively burn out your palate, it’s not watery, it’s not too sweet or thick or sticky. You could gulp down a whole ice-cold bottle fresh from the cooler, but the taste doesn’t develop into something weird if it warms up a bit over a slower savoring. Curiously, there’s not a whole lot I can say here, because the beer’s so here-and-gone it almost defies a detailed analysis. If you like fruit beers it’s got that sweetness that only comes from real fruit, with tart-cherry elements that complement rather than burn out the tongue. If you’re not so much for the fruit beers, this one is subtle enough it might be an exception.
The Bottom Line:
Silly Ballast Point! Roses don’t grow in the sea!