Stories | Limited Release

Sixpoint 4BEANS Imperial Porter

Published On
July 24, 2015

Baltic tales spoke of ancient brewers tossing beans and barley into cauldrons, and steeping them to create dark, rich beers that “fell in showers.” The beans were a hearty substitute for barley in cold climates not ideal for grain production. As these brewers came to find out, the high protein content of these beans adds body and richness that’s excellent for dark brews.

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So the first bean used in this Imperial Porter is the romano bean, a likely choice for these ancient brewers. Then we build on tradition with experimentation. To continue the flavor profile of big Baltic-style beers, 4BEANS is infused with coffee and chocolate, and now vanilla. Tests with early Mad Scientist beers told us that cocoa husks impart beer with a huge kick of chocolate flavor, without weighing down the beer or contributing oil, like the fatty nib does (the part used to make chocolate). For 4BEANS, we added a whopping 600 pounds of cocoa husks from our partners the Mast Brothers, world-class chocolate makers who opened up in 2007 and have been honing their craft in BKLYN ever since.

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For our coffee addition, we’ve actually continued to tweak our methods from our last Bean beer, 3BEANS. For that beer we took concentrated cold brew and blended it with the the finished brew, as the final step before kegging and canning. For 4BEANS, we went a different route, and essentially made cold brew coffee in the beer, post fermentation. This method has become our go-to after using it in Pour Over, a small batch coffee ale we made this year. We dig it because you can deliver a huge hit of coffee flavor without any compromising acidity. Note to any homebrewers working with coffee: hit us up on twitter if you wanna chat! 

Our friends at Stumptown Coffee Roasters gave us the coffee hookup – they brew incredible stuff and have a roastery right down the road from our brewery. For more on them and the Mast Brothers, and everything that went into 3Beans, check out our video.

For a finishing touch, and to take this porter to the next level, we round out the massive brew with Madagascar Vanilla… the fourth bean. The vanilla actually serves as an elegant link between ingredients more so than a powerful flavor element.

As Shane C. Welch put it “the vanilla bean addition to the 4Beans helped provide a nuance to the beer without making it a total “vanilla bomb.” Sort of like oak-aging, the vanilla rounds out the harsh bitter flavors and roasty notes, and helps to fuse them with malt, coffee and other more aggressive elements. Essentially it makes the beer more savory, and more connected. 4BEANS is rockin’.”

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Heather McReynolds, Brewing Manager, notes that vanilla actually makes you perceive the flavors of chocolate more acutely: “When you want to emulate sweet, light chocolate flavors in beer, small doses of vanilla is the way to go. The subtle sweetness of the vanilla actually reads as sweet chocolate on your palate. That’s why you put vanilla in chocolate cookies, and why black and white milkshakes are so good.” 

Vanilla meets barley, beans, chocolate and coffee, and the result is a quadrality of roasted, savory, and complex flavors. Modern formulation meets Baltic tradition and BKLYN partnership… it’s Mad Science.

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