Drawing inspiration from ancient tales that talked of beer falling in showers, Sixpoint Brewery of Brooklyn, N.Y., brewed the first of its bean beers back in 2013. The original brought together Romano, cacao and coffee beans to create the barley and hop-based libation known as 3Beans. An imperial porter aged on toasted oak, the beer also included notes of vanilla drawn from the wood, which were said to help round out 3Beans’ overall flavor profile.
Building on the success of that beer, the brewery announced the release of 4Beans in July of this year. Available in slender 12-ounce cans, the new version starts with the same set of ingredients as 3Beans, then adds vanilla beans from Madagascar in order to enhance the beer in a way similar to what was accomplished with oak-aging.
Reading the above description, you might get the impression that vanilla plays a big part in the beer’s flavor profile. It does, but maybe not in a way that you would expect. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I don’t pick up any vanilla at all in the beer. That’s not really all that surprising, though, since as is explained on Sixpoint’s website “the subtle sweetness of the vanilla actually reads as sweet chocolate on your palate.”
Indeed, chocolate leads much of the way in terms of 4Bean’s flavor and aroma. There’s a decent amount of dark roast coffee character as well, but it gets masked a bit by the chocolate, especially at colder temperatures. Neither element is overly intense, and once the beer warms the bitter and sweet aspects of the beer play off each other to give 4Beans a nice sense of balance. As for how it drinks, the beer leans towards being full-bodied, a perception likely enhanced by the proteins imparted by the Romano beans, but it drinks fairly easily – and with nary a hint of alcohol—as it finishes with lingering flavors of chocolate and dark roast.