26 August 2013

Five point plan

These five beers by Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin came as a freebie from The Beer Club (thanks Stephen!) who are importing the range. The initial set looks to have crossed the Atlantic a little slowly judging from the tight best-before dates, so hardened hop fans may prefer to wait for a later batch.

Nothing stale about Point Belgian White however. Though a biggish 5.4% ABV it's nicely light of touch, showing zingy spices at the front and finishing on sweet orange and banana. The middle is a little watery but the beer as a whole doesn't suffer because of it. Not too sweet and not too dry, it's pretty much on the money for a summery wit.

Next up Point Amber Lager: a tough style to impress with now that the 1990s are behind us. They've laid on the caramel quite heavily here, shading towards a kind of smokiness. Not much else going on, however. Simple and tasty, and not a thing wrong with it, but not especially interesting. Finishing up quickly, I expected bigger things from the back three.

Point Black Ale is 5.2% ABV and a very dark red. Liquorice and molasses form the centrepiece of the aroma. In the mouth it shows itself as another thin one but that liquorice flavour really punches through. A hint of plum and fig appears just on the end. The rest of the flavour is quite simple, clean you might say, putting this somewhere on the schwarzbier to porter spectrum -- a much gentler proposition than the US and US-style black IPAs currently doing the rounds.

To Point Pale Ale next, a bright and cheery red-gold. I strongly suspected the fresh hops had departed here, from the mere hint of boiled sweet in the aroma, but it turns out I've had this before a couple of years ago -- badged as "Cascade Pale Ale" for the local market -- and there wasn't much by way of hopping in evidence then. I enjoyed it more this time round, finding a pleasant sweet tangerine tang, though that's pretty much your lot flavourwise. It's along similar lines to the witbier, being simple, approachable and well put together but a bit more complexity would be welcome, since we're north of 5% ABV.

Last in the series is Point IPA, quite a dark amber though at 5.6% ABV only a smidge stronger than the foregoing Pale Ale. There's a bitterness in the finish, but no aroma to speak of and very little happening in the flavour either. Some sherbet, and a vague metallic background, but none of the oomph you're looking for in an American IPA.

I reckon the Pale Ale is the star of the show here. It has a balance and drinkability I appreciate and I'd love to try it with a little less age on it. The rest are welcome additions to the American beer scene in Ireland, though they don't offer much that isn't already available.

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