The Hop Brief: 7 Seas Ballz Deep Double IPA
Enjoyed on 2/28/2011
Brewery: 7 Seas Brewing
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Beer: Ballz Deep Double India Pale Ale
Presentation: 16 oz. – Can
Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale
A mash tun packed mostly with Pale Ale Malt and several different varieties of Crystal malt provide a firm, slightly sweet malt flavor while copious amounts of resiny Yakima Valley hops go berserk on bitterness, flavor and aroma.
Beer Advocate: B- (3.45)
Rate Beer: 79 (3.37)
Clearly, the canning trend is blowing up around the country. It would take far too long for me to name them all, but I think we all know that when highly respected breweries such as Oskar Blues, New Belgium, Surley, Maui, Anderson Valley, and Big Sky are doing it, everyone wants a piece. Not to mention the fact that it creates less waste, it easier to transport, and it is completely impenetrable to UV light. I would be surprised if there was a brewery out there today that wouldn’t admit that they would love to can if they could.
To my knowledge, 7 Seas was the first WA brewery to can with any regularity, and they went straight for 16 ouncers. Bad-ass fellas! Bad-ass! With any luck, the contents of said bad-ass pounder will be equally wicked.
This big Northwest IPA pours from the tall boy can (!) a clear, dark reddish amber color that is very much on the darker end of the SRM scale for IPAs. The glugging pour that is inevitable from the opening in a can produced a surprisingly small head of just off-white bubbles. The crown quickly subsided and left a few splotches of lace on the glass.
When held to the light, this brew is very clearly filtered and in the all too common way of the Northwest, very lightly carbonated.
The nose is pretty subtle and by no means screams double IPA. I find it to be quite fruity, both from the hops and the malt. I get a sense that there might be some wheat in the mash, but that could just be a sensory connection with the banana notes that I perceive.
There is definitely a tropical fruit wafting off of this unique brew. I pick up some papaya and pineapple and citrus rind, as well as a bit of plum and red grape that could come from the darker crystal and munich malts that I’d assume lend the reddish hue.
Grains are very prominent in the nose as well and come across with a fruitiness that prompts Belgian thoughts. I always revert to thought of Special B when I sense this attribute, which is really just a Euro crystal malt.
The mouthfeel is very smooth and full. Overall the body is impressive and seems to benefit from the minimal carbonation. With that being said, I think there is enough depth in body to withstand quite a bit more effervescence and not lose points. I strongly feel that more carbonation would assist the drinker in perceiving the flavor nuances here. I feel the bubbles really awaken the taste buds. I would make this suggestion to any lightly carbonated beer.
Am I drinking an IPA? Yes, it’s pretty bitter but this is a much more malt forward beer that I expected. I’d call it more of an Imperial Red. There is little to no hop flavor to this beer. There is a fruitiness, no doubt, which could be from the hops, but for me it comes across as being a product of a specialty grain heavy mash with a slightly higher than normal fermentation temperature for an IPA.
I hesitate to use the word “estery” because it’s not a wine-like fruitiness. It’s more of a barleywine like experience. In fact, this could easily turn into a barleywine with a fairly minimal increase to the grain bill. This is a very well brewed beer in my opinion, it’s just not a double IPA.
The finish is super dried out by the bitterness and what I would imagine is a fairly low final gravity. The corners of my mouth and the bottom of my tongue are actually being constricted by the dryness, which is distracting. Once I get past that I find that the malty depth lingers for some time and is, again, very barleywine like and pleasant.
Overall, this recipe has a lot of potential but seems to be slightly misguided. It kind of breaks my heart because I want this beer to be so much better. It has a bad ass name, it’s packaged in a tall boy can which houses some pretty killer artwork, and it’s a high IBU beer of the Northwest. There is so much potential there for this to be a beer that us Pacific Northwesterners are wicked proud of. I’ve had plenty of other 7 Seas beers that I thoroughly enjoyed, so who knows, maybe this beer I’m searching for will still come from the boys in Gig Harbor.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.79
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.84
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.83
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.10
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.90
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.81