Earlier this year, San Diego's iconic Ballast Point Brewery became the craft-beer star in the crown of Constellation Brands (owners of Corona and Modelo) to the tune of $1 billion dollars. And what does $1 billion get you? One hell of a gorgeous tasting room in the Long Beach Marina—cha-ching!!!
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Formerly Khoury's Restaurant, there's seating for 670, a main bar, an outdoor bar and yet another bar upstairs—all this room and there's usually a wait for a table. No need for food trucks here: the menu is just four appetizers, four salads, four entrees and two kinds of tacos, with 30 beers on tap. You're here for the beer anyways, right? Order the food, but you can't go upstairs with it: the seagulls got wise quick. But do enjoy the rooftop scene—it's beautiful.
Ballast Point does so many good-tasting beers that I'd need a whole cover story (and second liver) to document them all, but start with their legendary Sculpin IPA (7% ABV). Rich, copper tone, tropical fruit, citrus, malt for body and then the hops—smooth AF! You don't become a billion-dollar brewery without being good at something, and Ballast Point is very good at their fruit-tasting beer. Mango, grapefruit, pineapple, watermelon—these aren't sweet, fruity beers, (YUCK) but rather hoppy IPA's with fruit blended just right. The Watermelon Dorado DIPA (10%ABV) is strong with the hops, but the watermelon keeps it from being bitter. It's only served in 8-oz. servings, so strong it is. And I know it's July, but I saw a marzen on the beer menu, a Dead Ringer Oktoberfest (6% ABV): full-flavored malts, hops, clean finish, a good switch after a few IPAs.
Try to plan your visit during the day, when it's easier to find parking and a seat inside. But if you like crowds, go during prime time and here's a tip; you can pay your tab at the retail store in case your server is overwhelmed, which happens: the servers are doing their best, but Ballast Point Tasting Room can get CAAARAZY!!
Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen, 110 N. Marina Dr., Long Beach, (562) 296-4470.