Friday, January 11, 2013

Toxic Sludge by Blue Point

This weekend, I will be traveling west.  Tonight's review, though is of something from closer to home.  We remain near the Atlantic, and discuss Blue Point Brewery's Toxic Sludge. 

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Toxic Sludge is an adequate tasting beer, with an excellent aroma, and perhaps a cooler can.  And, of course, an awesome name.  

To the details. 

This particular serving of Toxic Sludge (how fun is that to type?) was poured vigorously and produced a monumental and persistent head. 

Toxic Sludge by the Blue Point Brewing Company
7.0% ABV
40 IBUs

That head, as pictured, was mostly white in color.  To be exact, the thick head was reminiscent in tint to french vanilla ice cream.  

The liquid portion of Toxic Sludge was ruby and mostly opaque.  Any light that managed to pass through was shaded in the darkest of red. 

The aroma was thoroughly pleasing.  As a native of North Dakota, I was reminded of leisurely jaunts through wavering fields of grain. Balancing out the scent was the faintest hint of orange.  Certainly satisfied the nose. 

Upon tasting, I was initially struck by how refined a beer this was.  This would soon prove to be a bit of a fault. In the sense that it was too refined to offer a violence of flavor, as may have been anticipated.  And desired. 

But, in any case, that first taste was notable for its very mild carbonation and interestingly delicate, yet sugary mouthfeel. 

Upon completion of that initial sip, I noticed a pleasant spiciness tickling the back of my mouth and the upper region of my throat.  There was boozy warming as the liquid passed deeper. 

And, all along, Toxic Sludge's impressive soapy suds remained laced around the inside of the glass. 

The taste was admirable and, on the whole, happily different from most IPAs, but lacked something.  Let's dig in. 

I at first noticed a strong presence of black licorice, and strong char.  Toxic Sludge did not offer the piney, floral hoppiness of its west coast brethren.  While certainly bitter, this was something different.  My palate was met with cereal grains tasting like fresh bread while providing, peculiarly, a hint of sourness. 

Toxic Sludge was hoppy but not in the same abrasive style of, say, Hop Stoopid, Deviant Dale's, or Furious by Surly.  Toxic Sludge was something totally different. 

Like the uniquely designed can in which it was delivered, Toxic Sludge was its own beast. 

Unfortunately, Toxic Sludge, while unique, suffered by lacking the qualities the beers named above offer. This beer was short of achieving balance. Something was missing.  

That is to say that throughout the drinking experience, I was expecting a bold, hoppy kick.  A sandpaper blast. And it was never received.  To some masochistic disappointment. 

In retrospect, the high point of Toxic Sludge was its aroma, which was excellent.  Although competition was offered by its price: a very respectable $2.87 per pint-sized can at the local Total Wine.  Between this and a cup of coffee for the same price, I'd choose the Toxic Sludge every time.  

So, this was a good beer.  No doubt. 

It's seasonal.  While I will surely be able to harness my anticipation of its next arrival, I will definitely buy another the next time it is in stock.  

I admire Toxic Sludge's uniqueness, from name to can design and then, less so, to flavor.  A great aroma, followed by a simply satisfactory beer.  Exact qualities of a three star beer.  Which is what it earns: 3 stars (out of 5) and a lukewarm recommendation.  If you encounter a can, grab it.  Enjoy.  But this is not a small batch offering worth searching for. 


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