Beer Review 0451: Sixpoint 3Beans Baltic Porter
After suffering major damage in 2012 from Hurricane Sandy, Sixpoint 3Beans almost didn’t exist — but the test batch, which survived the storm, gave everyone involved with the project a sign that the beer must be made, hurricane or not.
Sixpoint (Brooklyn, New York) was founded in 2004, but they say the company was actually born at the dawn of civilization, when grains were first being harvested to make fermented beverages. Sixpoint says beer is culture, and we’re down with that, and have a great appreciation for that mindset.
Sixpoint began in an 800 square foot garage at the hands of college classmates Shane Welch and Andrew Bronstein. Andrew, native to Brooklyn, provided the cash needed to start up the brewery, while Shane, an avid homebrewer, came up with the recipes. The Sixpoint logo is a combination of the brewer’s hexagram and the nautical star.
3Beans has a wonderful story behind it, and Sixpoint made a great video telling all about it, which I highly encourage you watch on YouTube. In summary: 3Beans contains three different types of beans — the first being Romano beans. In ancient times, some brewers lacked the proper grains to make beer, and instead used beans, which contain fermentable sugars and proteins that provide beer with body.
The second bean addition are cacao beans, which were locally obtained from Mast Brothers Chocolate. Mast Brothers does not use milk or butter when making their chocolate, instead using just the bean itself — for 3Beans, the company used a specially made device to separate the fatty nib from the outer husk of the bean. Both the Romano beans and cacao beans are added to the beer pre-fermentation; the third and final bean, coffee, is dosed in near the beer’s completion.
Procured from Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Oregon, 3Beans is blended with their cold-brewed coffee, which is perfectly calibrated for just the right flavor. And if that wasn’t enough, Sixpoint then aged 3Beans on toasted American oak, to 10% ABV (alcohol by volume). Sounds good, huh? Let’s see…
The pour spilled out a large, frothy and rocky head that turns creamy as it begins to diminish. But pack a lunch, because this foam has some lasting power. The beer is dark tawny brown in color, and is opaque when held out of light, but under lighting you see the body is clear, and free of particles and sediment. Lacing is most excellent, leaving behind thick, solid sheets of an off-white film, perhaps thanks to the Romano beans.
On the nose, the aromas are a bit faded, likely because this beer does have a bit of age on it. Taking that into account, the coffee presence is still solid, and it mixes with the chocolate very nicely. The chocolate isn’t exactly dark and reminds me of a candy bar that contains caramel; there are also notes of toasted marshmallows, burnt sugar and some sweet vanilla. The large alcohol content is absent in smell.
Taking a sip, we’ve got an even combination of creamy chocolate and mildly sweetened coffee. These flavors stay steady in the initial taste, and combined with a creamy mouthfeel, make for a pleasant start — the middle sees a big hit of vanilla and candy bar chocolate sweetness. 3Beans finishes mildly bitter with fresh coffee and a solid backing of dry dark chocolate. After three or four sips, the bitterness amps up as it tends to linger with each swallow. I found the beer to be medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy and gritty (when swirled) mouthfeel. The alcohol does come out to play, but it’s nothing that detracts from the main coffee and chocolate flavors.
Impressive use of the three beans — the Romano beans do add a creamy mouthfeel and I feel they help head retention, while the chocolate is complex and nicely done in combination with the coffee. I think Sixpoint are on to something with blending the fermented beer with actual coffee, and with the cold brewing — however, like with most beers that are blended with coffee, the bitterness from the coffee kind of takes over the finish after half a glass. Still, 3Beans is a very nice beer and I’m glad a hurricane didn’t stop it from being canned.
Sixpoint 3Beans Baltic Porter, 93 points. Price: $11.99 US for a four pack.