The dessert beer is a tricky tart to perfect. Of course, opinions vary and some will swig down just about anything based on a name regardless if the beer actually delivers on the flavors it promises. The perils are real though. Dessert beers can verge on sickly sweet to flat out not being able to cash in on its promises. Ballast Point’s Red Velvet falls somewhere in the middle.
This review focuses on the release of the six pack of 12 oz nitro bottles that were recently released. As the bottle promises the beer is nitrogenated and pours light pink and cascades beautifully leaving a deep red hued beer with a creamy, slightly pink head that resembles cream cheese frosting. The aroma is lacking quite a bit with muted notes of light malts, vanilla and hints of chocolate.
It’s worth noting that this beer is an golden oatmeal stout with chocolate and natural flavors added. So, in being a “golden stout” it allows for the intense red color from the beets to come through so vividly. Before moving into the taste it’s also worth noting that I have never had a beet in my entire life. Prior to this beer I’ve only ever even had one beer that utilized beets and it was a sour…three years ago, so there’s no way to rely on my ability to recognize the actual beet characteristics of the use in this particular beer. If you’re lost, let me explain. Red Velvet uses beets to–at the very least–impart the intense red color to the beer. It’s on the label and it’s unclear to this particular drinker what flavors it adds to the beer itself. There is undoubtedly an earthy characteristic that could be attributed to the use of the beet, or even through the soft mouthfeel which is a byproduct of the nitro.
Red velvet enthusiasts generally realize that the only real thing that sets it apart from your typical chocolate cake is the color and of course the accompany cream cheese frosting. Ballast point has come about as close as anyone has to mimicking all of those flavors even though in doing so they’ve managed to create a number of off flavors that are hard to enjoy with each bottle. The beer is not overly sweet and many of the flavors do not smack you in the face. This too can be blamed on the use of nitro which will be a common theme to this beers appeal and drawbacks. Chocolate is the most pronounced flavor that comes through and perhaps is what gives the beers it subtle sweetness. The nitro has not killed the carbonation entirely as there is still a kick to each sip that’s followed by a slight bitterness–enough to remind you you’re drinking a beer but muted enough for one to fantasize that you are drinking a liquified piece of red velvet cake.
By the end of the six pack it’s hard to deny the beer’s appeal visually. It looks sexy in the glass and is topped with a nice layer of creamy foam that gives it the look of a beer with a dollop of cream cheese frosting on top. The flavors follow through enough to give it a shot, but it’s also hard to deny that the beer is lacking in its ability to leave a positive lasting impression. I’d be interested in trying this same beer but without the nitro. It seems as though the nitro amplifies the off flavors by coating your mouth and throat as you drink it. That’s not to say an as is version would relieve those issues, but it would be a fun “for science” experiment. Overall, Ballast Point’s Red Velvet is a decent one-off that won’t wow a lot of seasoned beer drinkers, but one that’s worth giving a shot–but perhaps not at the six pack’s unnecessary price point.
Bottle art is pretty killer though. So kudos on that.