Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sixpoint - 3Beans Porter Review

Sixpoint 3Beans

Brewery: Sixpoint (NY)
Style: Baltic Porter
ABV: 10%
Grade: B+

New York City must have one of the weirdest beer scenes in the country. I envy metropolises with a dozen major breweries and brewpubs, cities where you can just visit their taproom to try whatever one-off concoctions they've come up with, or order a sampler flight of 20 different beers. In NYC, hardly anyone has a taproom, tastings, or even tours. Sixpoint has always had a lot of buzz behind it, despite having none of those things at its facilities. While their flagship beers are everywhere, it can be weirdly difficult to find their one-off, experimental stuff — their "Mad Scientists" series experiments, or their Spice of Life single hop IPA monthlies. With no central tasting room, and only a handful of scattered bars getting these beers, you almost just have to be in the right place at the right time.

So I figured I probably shouldn't miss 3Beans, which is apparently a one-off collaboration (between Sixpoint, Stumptown Coffee, and Mast Brothers chocolate), and not a new seasonal. A Baltic Porter brewed with cacao and cold brew coffee, it starts off subtle and complex, layered with rich flavor. The nose is full of warm chocolate and hints of coffee, like a baking cake with... a cup of coffee beside it? (Beer writing is hard, okay?) While there is no actual cinnamon present, I can imagine whiffs of it next to the cocoa, especially with Twilight of the Idols fresh in my memory. For the first few minutes out of the can and into the glass, the aroma on 3Beans is absolutely fantastic.

In the mouthfeel, the chocolate slinks back to make room for other flavors, and the coffee character remains mild, but clear. Hints of oaky vanilla, plus the sweetness of the malts, give this the character of a cold-brewed iced coffee with just a hint of cream and sugar, and very little remaining bitterness. It's actually rather light-bodied if compared to similar imperial stouts, but since this is a Baltic porter, that feels about right. Traditionally, Baltic porters were fermented with lager yeast or a cold-fermenting ale yeast, and while I'm not sure if this was the case here, it tastes like it. Despite everything else happening in 3Beans, in fact, it's weirdly clear that this is a porter. It's got that Baltic porter mouthfeel, a slight tang and an oily, sticky finish. The roast character, too, is fairly mild, popping up somewhere between coffee and chocolate, but the finish is all sweet caramel malts and tangy fruit. Alcohol heat emerges rather quickly, once this has warmed, but never really gets in the way. If you like your dark beers bitter and black, this isn't that; more on the lines of a very dark barleywine, with the slick, sweet mouthfeel of a lager fermentation. 

This is the rare beer that I enjoyed more before it had the chance to warm up; the warmth allows the sweetness in the finish to build up, and eventually verge on cloying. Nonetheless, it's a tasty, well-balanced compilation, a beer with a lot of dimensions that almost all work. Too bad this only seems to be a one-time brew, and not an annual release.

Availability: 12 ounce "skinny" can. As of now, one-time release.

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