Spicing it Up With Ballast Point

Jeffrey Wiser, July 31, 2014

Everybody loves a unique brew. In a world where microbrews are exploding across the country, there’s a lot of diversity in the beer aisle of your favorite grocery store or at your local bar. Most of the time, you know what you’re going to get. And that can be a good thing, but a spice of surprise from time to time is nice, too.

I found exactly that last week when I attended a Ballast Point event here in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). I had run into a guy at a local bar a few weeks prior who told me about the event, and being rather partial to Ballast Point, I immediately marked the calendar. If you haven’t enjoyed their beers yet, I strongly recommend them (their spirits are good, too)! Last winter, I even nominated their signature Sculpin IPA as my beer of the year.

When the tap list for the event was revealed, I knew what I wanted: Indra Kunindra. I’m not typically a fan of exotic beers, mostly because I often view them as gimmicks, but trust me, the folks at Ballast Point have made sure that this is a legitimate effort. Classified as a “foreign/export stout,” Indra Kunindra is brewed with an intense combination of spices. Most prominent is the curry and cayenne, but cumin is also added. If you’re not into spicy beers, I know what you’re thinking, “how can that possibly be good?” Surprising, it was exquisite.

  • Appearance: pitch black with some foam out of the tap (3.5)
  • Smell: lots of curry and cayenne, a little sweetness, and more curry (4)
  • Taste: sweet to start, curry hit midway through and finished with the cayenne and cumin (4)
  • Mouthfeel: medium density, smooth like a stout should be, with some heat in the aftertaste (4)
  • Overall: unique beer and, believe it or not, the spice doesn’t overwhelm. Surprising balance with some sweetness up front (3.75)

The beer is excellent because of its balance. While the spice is readily apparent on the nose, the taste is not dominated by it. It’s balanced considering it’s ingredients, which is a must. It’s actually sweet on the front end, but the curry and cayenne show up on the finish as it almost burned on the way down. The “burn” wasn’t overdone, however. It was present but didn’t take away from the rest of the brew.

This beer kept my attention, which was a good thing because the hostess was terrible and the establishment itself was rather douchey. Indra Kunindra itself was worth the walk across town, though. Of course, I couldn’t check out of the restaurant without a pint of Sculpin, but I’m glad I broke the mold of my standard IPA ways long enough to take in a truly well-crafted, exotic beer. Like many beers in this category, it’s worth a try but not something that one would drink or a regular basis, unless you eat a ton of Thai food or have a penchant for spicy beer.

If you’ve tried it, I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments below!