By Tyler Estabrook
Stevens Point Brewery is a Wisconsin brewer that I previously knew for a decent Belgian White and Pale Ale.
Well, this time they really caught my attention with their 2012 Black Ale. I mean, what a great idea for a beer, and what slick packaging to match. I truly haven’t seen anything like this before. It’s got a Mesoamerican “sunstone” right on the side of the six-pack!
According to the brewers, the beer was inspired by the Mayan Long Count Calendar, which ends Dec. 21, 2012, and it is intended to be every bit as mysterious as this famous date.
I have to say that the 2012 Black Ale thoroughly lives up to the 2012 end-date printed on the label. It is big, bold, a bit scary to the uninitiated, yet transcendent and beautiful for those who have taken the time to understand it.
The 2012 is a top-shelf dark ale, much like New Belgium 1554. According to beeradvocate.com, the 2012 is technically an American-style brown ale, in contrast to the 1554’s Belgian roots, but it doesn’t matter what you call it. After all, the 1554 and 2012 both have a lot in common with traditional German “schwarzbier.”
The flavor is malty and complex, but so unbelievably mellow. Other than that, it is very hard to pin down. It is only mildly nutty in comparison to most brown ales. It’s sweet, but not saccharine.
This is to say a lot of the beer’s “kick” doesn’t show itself until you’ve already started to swallow. The texture is thus just as important as the initial flavor: creamy, foamy, maybe a bit heavy, but it certainly doesn’t feel syrupy in the mouth like a stout or porter.
This has to be one of the most satisfying styles of beer around. It has everything that makes dark ales pleasing to the palate and everything that makes lighter-bodied ales smooth and refreshing.
A six-pack of Stevens Point 2012 Black Ale can be purchased for $6.29 at Woodman’s: an exceptional buy, to say the least.
Send questions or beer recommendations to Tyler Estabrook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Sept. 22-28, 2010 issue