and vanilla are flavor additives you usually associated with a stout or
porter. But with “Calm Before the Storm,” Ballast Point shows these
ingredients can work just as well in a lighter brew. It’s interesting
that they went with a cream ale to try this with, though it’s rather
moot since the base brew really is overshadowed by the coffee and
vanilla. You might consider this a novelty beer, but I consider it a
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 7/13/15 and cost $3.85 ($0.32 per ounce).
Appearance: Surprisingly dark copper/amber hue (it’s golden on the
brewery’s website); pours to a small, ivory, foamy head which doesn’t
retain or lace all that well.
Smell: A sweet iced coffee scent; I can actually detect a bit of corn, too. They don’t clash, though.
Taste: This beer is intended to be a warmer weather alternative to an
imperial stout brewed with the same flavors. It’s certainly an
interesting choice and it does work pretty well. The coffee is evident
immediately, but it’s not deeply roasted and extremely bitter; more of
an iced coffee with sugar and cream. The vanilla gives it a bit of a
chocolate candy flavor. I don’t detect the base brew until the finish
when a bit of corn emerges. At first it’s an odd, slightly distracting
flavor, but I get used to it quickly. Only a mild bitterness on the
backend with a slight drying sensation. It doesn’t get any more complex
than this, but these flavors are enjoyable enough to make for a good
Drinkability: I was a bit surprised to see Ballast Point Calm Before The
Storm was only 5.5% ABV. I was expecting this to be a stronger brew.
The mouthfeel is a bit calm and a little thinner than I’d prefer. It’s
crisp as it goes down and there’s only a mild iced coffee aftertaste
which eventually fades completely. I would not consider it refreshing,
nor would I consider it so richly sweet that it works as a dessert beer
(at least not on its own).