This past Tuesday Eli Cannon's Tap Room in Middletown featured Blue Point Brewery as their beer for tasting. There were four Blue Point beers on the menu and up for sampling: Blue Point Toasted Lager, Oktoberfest, Blueberry Ale, and Hoptcial Illusion. The man representing Blue Point brewery was Jamal Robinson the New England sales manager, and he was more then happy to talk about his beer.
Blue Point is a Long Island beer that was started by Mark Burford and Pete Cotter in 1998. As Robinson explains, these were just two dudes who started brewing their own beer and realized that it was as good or better than anything that Long Island currently offered. Today Blue Point has 16 different beers that they cycle through, including their American "Pale Ale" and "Toasted Lager" which are year-round beers that are quite popular.
The quality of Blue Point's beer is evident to the Long Island area, as (according to Robinson) just about every bar in L.I. has at least two or three Blue Point brews on draught at any given time. Robinson admits that Blue Point knows that the beer industry is, well, an industry. Accordingly they put out beer that is approachable, and beer that requires a wider palate for.
Blue Point Toasted Lager won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in 2006. This is their flagship beer that is easy drinking to be approachable to the larger beer market, but the lager also has some complex notes in it to keep it appealing to craft beer drinkers. Though the lager appeals to both serious beer drinkers (if there really can be such a thing) and casual beer drinkers, Blue Point's brews run the gamut from easy-drinking to very complex brews.
As Robison told me, Blue Point has easy beers that are 5 percent ABV all the way to hoppy-monsters and other beers that weigh in heavy at 10 percent ABV.
The topic of the beer industry came up several times during the conversation. Robinson expressed that the industry needs visionaries, but when a large number of them cropped up in the 80's, too few of them had any business knowledge and so folded quickly. By far and large, says Robinson, brewers get into the business for the right reasons: they brew for the love of beer. Problems commonly occur when they start to try to supply large areas, and it is very hard to even consider supplying beer nationally.
But despite any business or brewing decisions that have to be made, Robinson was adamant that the quality of the beer is what decides the business. "Beer is all about the liquid: at the end of the day it's what pulls people in, or pushes them away," Robinson told me.
For pictures, more information on the beer present and MUCH more conversation with Jamal, check out my blog "Malted Musings," and for more malted musings during the week, be sure to add me on Twitter @Malted_Musings. Also try and make it out to Eli Cannon's this Tuesday for the Boulder Brewing (a great brewery from Colorado) tasting. We will see you there!