Playing Tap Roulette With Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra
ABV: 7.0%, IBU: 50
It’s a terrifying moment. As you and your crew walk into your favorite beer bar, a familiar call rings out from the back of your pack “first ones on me, what do you want”. Hooray! Right? Or maybe not. This bar has a great selection, always something new, but it’s going to take you at least 5 minutes on Google to sort out what looks like a Stone tap on the left, the Southern Tier on the right, or the 8 obscurities in between. You don’t have that kind of time. Ok, no Guinness tonight, not a Stone IPA night either. What’s that on the right? Ballast Point? But you can’t read the tap from back here. They just made it across the state line, and you know they make a kick ass IPA. Screw it. Time to play Tap Roulette.
We’ve all gone through this routine. We all have that beloved bar with a beer list glaringly absent from their wall. You know, the one with a great tap list that changes on what seems like a daily basis; however you’ll need the Hubble Space Telescope to read the taps from behind the crowd gathered around the bar. This is 2013, I thought that every bar with more than 8 taps was Constitutionally mandated to have beer names and descriptions intricately scrimshawed on a chalkboard on the wall by this point.
I ran into this situation just last week. I went for the Ballast Point hoping for the Sculpin, and Sculpin I did not get. By the time I was at the bar, I could, through my squinting eyes make out “Indra Kunindra” hmm, this could get interesting. That’s the point though, isn’t it? Everyone has their standard (mine is Bell’s Two Hearted) but journeying into the unknown just might reveal the best beer you’ve never had. They’re not going to all be winners, but knowing exactly what doesn’t float your boat is the surest way to get across the malty ocean to the coast of perfection.
I digress; this is a beer review after all, isn’t it? After closer examination of the tap, Indra Kunindra was touted as an “India-Style Export Stout” and had an angry looking octopus on the tap. It poured a dark chocolate brown, with a thin head the color of crème brulee ringing the inside of the goblet. The first whiff inspired confusion. The second, confirmation. Cardamom, with some ginger, and a certain hot sharpness at the end – it smells like a bowl of spicy curry – the kind of spice that doesn’t catch up with you until the 4th or 5th bite. The first taste confirmed itself as the smell’s confederate. Bold notes of cardamom, cumin and ginger on the front, then the chili’s sneak in and turn things up to 11. There’s not a lot of carbonation, it feels thick and smooth in your mouth, not quite syrupy, but that’s the way it should be. Bubbles would have added a sharpness that clashed with the heat. The flavors in this beer are not a symphony; they’re an amplified marching band, playing a Cannibal Corpse song, in your mouth.
I have to applaud the folks at Ballast Point, because chili beers are hard to pull off, and savory flavored stouts are hard to pull off – but they’ve done both in Indra Kunindra. This isn’t the kind of beer you’re going to reach for when you’re on a mission to do some damage. There’s so much going on, that you can’t fly through this beer, you have to fight through the thicket of flavors in this beer with a machete. I found myself with a half full glass as the rest of my table was calling for the second round. When I was done, my taste buds were in a puddle on the floor of my mouth, exhausted, sated. This was a journey – the folks at Ballast Point have managed to fit the entire Indian subcontinent into a bottle.
Sometimes you spin the wheel and you hit the 00, other times your numbers come up on an inside bet and you’re eating steak for the next week. This one was certainly a winning spin.