Brooklyn, Beans, and Portland, an Intercontinental Tale

Some time back, I got an email from Brooklyn, where ten-year-old Sixpoint is located*.  I get a lot of emails from breweries that don't distribute in Oregon, and usually they go straight to the round file--but this one was different.  It was a story about a beer brewed with beans.  Intriguing.  Back in the very olden days, beans were pretty common ingredients in beer (everything was common--including, in one source I've seen, chimney soot).  It turned out that 3Beans was a slight cheat--Sixpoint used cacao and coffee beans along with Romano beans, the real McCoy.

But it turned out to be even more interesting.  The coffee beans came from Stumptown.  (Given that Brooklyn and Portland are often twinned in the minds of Americans as the east and west hipster capitals of America, there's some real harmony there.)  Even more interesting, the tale involves a superstorm and a trip back to the actual Stumptown to procure the final ingredient.  As one of my irregular Friday Flicks, I'll post a video of the beer.

Sixpoint sent me some of the 3Beans and, bonus, also sent Righteous Ale, Sweet Action, and Resin.  I'm always fascinated to see how trends are evolving in other parts of the country, so it was fun to see what they were making.
  • 3Beans.  Essentially an imperial stout, very rich and creamy.  Lots of chocolate and coffee flavors in a dessert-like presentation.  The Romano beans obviously didn't contribute much in the way of flavor, but I did wonder if they contributed to the texture. 
  • Righteous Ale.  A burly beer with a rustic rye maltiness but a smooth hopping that had lots of melon in it (I'm gonna say honeydew).  It's a key flavor in the Resin, too, and I wonder if the yeast may not be contributing an ester that helps make the flavor pop.  
  • Sweet Action.  Sometimes classified as a cream ale, and not without reason.  The original cream ales were brewed stronger than more debased later versions, and this has lots of smooth drinkability.  I can easily imagine a beer like this from 125 years back.  The hopping is gentle but full, and the whole presentation is very nice.  A strong effort.
  • Resin.  One of the better double IPAs I've tried, Resin is not painfully bitter.  Rather, the incredible density of the beer (the thickness suggest an all-malt bill, no sugar) mutes the bitterness so the aromas and flavors--again, honeydew--come out.  I found the beer continued to open up until I got it almost to room temperature.  Probably 60 degrees is ideal.
The brewer at Sixpoint, Jan Matysiak,is a Weihenstephan-trained German brewer, and I can really taste the impulse he has toward balance in these beers.  I don't know how representative Sixpoint is of the greater Empire/Garden State region, but these are four very solid beers.  If you're out east, try to find a pint.
*Apparently the beers are brewed in Pennsylvania, though the brewery maintains a small space in Brooklyn where they do test batches and store kegged beer (evident in the video).  It's a subject of some controversy

Update.  I forgot to include this photo.   Sixpoint is incredibly advanced in terms of branding, and their packaging illustrates why.  They're incredibly attractive little cubes.  Their regular beers come in 16-oz cans, and specialty beers in 12-ouncers.  But to maintain a similar profile on the shelf both are the same height--the smaller ones are just skinnier.

Jeff Alworth6 Comments