Beer Review 0346: Ballast Point Indra Kunindra Export Stout

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The story of Ballast Point (San Diego, California) begins with home brew. While in college, Jack White started to like beer, and wanted more from the drink than you can find in the grocery store. So he brewed his own, and he got good at it; but he also found that getting his hands on equipment and ingredients were hard.

Mr. White decided to open his own home brew shop, the Home Brew Mart, in San Diego in 1992. Not only did the store provide a one-stop for making beer, but it also opened up communication between other home brewers — and Jack made a friend in Yuseff Cherney. These two men would start a brewery at the back of the shop, later destined to become Ballast Point Brewing.

Ballast Point officially began operations in 1996, but got big enough to move out of the Home Brew Mart and into a dedicated facility in 2004. Combining the love of beer and fishing, White and Cherney decided to name all of their creations after fish… except today’s brew, of course.

There are a couple different points of information about Indra Kunindra, an Export Stout, but there is nothing to be found about the brew on Ballast Point’s website. The first bit of information I found about the beer is that it was brewed to celebrate Holiday Wine Cellar’s 46th anniversary. Holiday Wine Cellar is a bottle shop located in nearby Escondido; we’re not sure of the exact connection between the store and Ballast Point. Secondly, this is apparently a collaboration between home brewer Alex Tweet and Ballast Point, according to the side of the bottle.

Now, if you want some unusual ingredients in a beer, this one has it. Brewed with Madras curry, cumin, cayenne pepper, coconut, and Kaffir limes, this drink is 7% ABV (alcohol by volume). Before I’ve even cracked the top, I can tell you I’m not sure how I feel about this, especially not being fond of curry or cumin. But we must try it.

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Indra Kunindra poured out a small, very fizzy and soapy head that audibly fizzled away just like Coca-Cola. The color was dark black, but this did have some nice ruby red edges. The body was clear, free of particles and sediment, and as you might have guessed, lacing was not a factor. And a weird thing happened when this beer settled: it looked just like there were powered spices floating atop it.

On the nose…CURRY. Yes, curry, and lots of of it. Smoked cumin, a fair bit of coconut, and some raw spicy pepper. Just like it says on the side of the bottle, so I can’t say they didn’t warn me. To me, the aroma was reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce and artificial beef ramen noodles that stayed in a pot overnight. It’s not off-putting, but it’s damn near close. I scored this 10 points not because I was so at odds with it, but because it did match note-for-note what was described on the bottle. Gotta give them something!

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As for the taste, this is a two parter, for me: heavy curry and a ton of cumin up front make this extremely unpleasant for my palate. But in the middle of the taste and toward the swallow, the cayenne pepper kicks in and brings on a nice coconut cake sliced with the acid from a tart but still sweet lime. I’m not talking coconut like you’d find in a barrel aged beer; it’s more like very chewy coconut cake. The finish lasts for a long time, riding a big spicy note that warms the mouth and chest. I’d definitely classify this as full-bodied with a medium mouthfeel.

The description from Ballast Point about this beer is spot-on. Honestly, the first part of the taste is horrible, but I don’t like curry or cumin, so you mileage will vary on that one. That being said, the flavors at the end were good, and there’s no doubt this is a well-made, super unique beer that you will either love or hate. If you’re into curry, I’m thinking you will adore this. Everyone else: approach with caution.

One note: my bottle shop offered me five dollars off this beer just to sell some, so when you see my price, add some to it — to me, it’s not worth the dollars you’ll probably have to shell out for such a hit or miss.

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra, 70 points. Price: $5.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle (with coupon).

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