Monday, May 18, 2009

Kind of Blue

An 80th birthday party for my wife's grandfather recently brought me out to Long Island for the day, and I was hopeful yet not optimistic that there would be some sort of craft beer offering at the establishment that was being used for the party.

Once we finally arrived (Saturday afternoon traffic through Staten Island and Brooklyn = an awful drive), we settled into the back room of Johnny Malone's, a fairly unassuming bar/restaurant in Wantagh, NY. A quick scan of our room noted that we had our own private supply of wine and beer. Excellent. A more detailed scan noted that said beer being poured appeared to be of the watery, light yellow colored variety. Damn.

Not to fear. There's still the front bar that is open to the public. Time for another scan of the bottles and tap handles: Miller Lite? No thanks. Blue Moon? Pass. Samuel Adams Summer Ale? Maybe, but I can get that just about anywhere for the next four months...and then they caught my eye: two tap handles from Blue Point Brewing Company. Score. All is not lost. The bar was pouring both the Toasted Lager and Blueberry Ale, so let's see what each brought to the table:

The Toasted Lager poured a crisp copper color with a minimal sized head to it, and had a nice balanced aroma that had notes of caramel sweetness, toasted bread and some floral hops here and there as well. The flavor was pretty much in line with what I picked up in the aroma, although I'd say there was a bigger than expected toasted bread presence toward the end of each sip.

The Lager is Blue Point's flagship beer and they do a nice job with it. I hadn't sampled it in quite some time and have to say that I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It's a no frills beer that actually reminds me a lot of the Samuel Adams Boston Lager, but with more of the previously mentioned toasted bread flavor to it that gives this one it's name.

Up next was the Blueberry Ale: it poured a watery copper color with a frothy white head and had a sweet blueberry smell to it that just pushed over the top enough into somewhat distracting territory. It's not ultra-offensive, but does get in the way a bit and certainly cuts into the general maltiness that is the only other aroma that is really present here. The flavor is similar, with blueberry dominating and taking just a bit too much away from the rest of the beer. There's a touch of caramel here, and like the Toasted Lager (but far more subtle) there are some bread notes at the end of each sip. Mouthfeel is light and a bit watery.

I can't say that I was terribly impressed with the Blueberry Ale. It was kind of like a watered down version of the Toasted Lager with too many blueberries added during the brewing process. It's not awful but not recommended. I'd like to see a bit more heft to the body and have the blueberry notes toned down a bit in both the aroma and flavor. The key to a solid fruit beer for me is keeping the fruit involvement simple and balanced, and that just didn't happen here. One pint of the Blueberry Ale was enough and then it was back to the Toasted Lager for the rest of the party for me.