Given the opportunity to write about craft beer every month in Decibel has been eye-opening. The idea that our "Brewtal Truth" column would have lasted more than four years (and counting) and even spawn a book—The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers, out in November—is pretty amazing. Now it's time to bring a little "Brewtal Truth" to the Deciblog. Each week we're featuring a different craft beer that you should drink now. These aren't so much reviews as recommendations. We won't post anything here that we haven't happily poured down our own gullet. There'll be a new one every week at noon Eastern time, a little something to get you thinking about your imbibing options for the weekend. This week we go to Brooklyn, which (pre-Prohibition) was once home to dozens of small breweries. Unlike the drinking water across the river in Manhattan that comes from god knows where, Brooklyn's water source is the Catskill Mountains and is pure, soft and perfect for brewing. The local metal scene may be cause for consternation among purists, but there's no denying the quality of the brews being made here (and the bars that serve them). Sixpoint has been producing all kinds of style-busting brews for nearly a decade and they're not afraid to go extreme. 3Beans, part of their rotational series is a dark, strong beer that defies traditional categories.
3BEANS Ale Brewed With Romano beans, Cacao & Coffee Sixpoint Brooklyn, NY 10% ABV
"Beans, beans, the magical fruit..." so begins one of the first songs we felt it necessary to teach our son, knowing full well this was the kind of essential knowledge that would serve him well throughout his life. This is how fathers assure the timeless comedy of fart humor is passed along through the generations. Needless to say, at the age of seven, he has embraced it whole-heartedly. In fact, he had a belly laugh when he saw pops drinking a beer called 3Beans, a testament to the excellent child-rearing we've done so far. Yes, 3Beans is actually brewed with the kind of beans that cause flatulence (in addition to the more "harmless" cacao and coffee beans). Our own unofficial results as to the toot-producing ability of the Romano beans in a beer were inconclusive, since there was plentiful gas released, but no more than usual.
This unfortunate and unsavory digression has taken a turn for the worse, yet seems impossible to back out of. Let's just try to focus on the fact that this dark, strong beer is a mash-up of old-world brewing methods (romano beans in the mash) and the bold innovations of brewing big (10% ABV), adding nontraditional ingredients (fermented cacao husks from Mast Bros. Chocolate and cold-brewed Stumptown coffee) and oak barrel aging.
You likely won't be able to taste or smell the romano beans in 3Beans, but the other two are definitely major contributors. Right outta the can—yes, this big beer is canned!—you can smell a big hit of iced coffee notes. A 10% ABV brew doesn't exactly seem like summertime sipping,but fridge cold this tastes like an iced mocha...that'll buzz you up. A little creamy, a little bitter, a little boozy. A whole lotta drinkable.
It has the sweetness of a big baltic porter but the massive 85 IBUs of bitterness balance it all out nicely. Honestly, it's a bit hard to detect the benefits the oak aging bestowed on it—maybe a mellowness?—but it definitely didn't do this beer any harm. And while some dark brews this boozy tend to be syrupy, this is remarkably medium bodied and built for drinkin' more than one. Yep, beans are the magical fruit. This cleverly made and totally delicious beer is ample proof.