Blue Point Toxic Sludge Black IPA

May 1, 2012

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  So Romeo would were he not Romeo called…”  Old Willie Shakespeare wrote that line a few hundred years ago but the intent holds true.  Incidentally, The Bard, well-known for his double-entendre, was taking a potshot at The Rose Theatre, a rival to his home base of The Globe.  The Rose was infamous for its lack of hygenical facilities.

Back to the line.  I mention that its intent holds true but in this day and age, it’s all about showbiz and marketing.  In Berkeley Breathed’s fantastic comic strip, “Bloom County,” his characters were wondering if John F. Kennedy would’ve gone as far had he been named Mortimer Dipthong.

Would tough guy actor Jack Palance have done as many one-arm pushups had he stuck with Volodymyr Palahniuk?  Gene Simmons of KISS probably wouldn’t have grabbed as many groupies if he remained Chaim Witz.  Musician Elvis Costello kept a lot of album cover space available by dropping the name Declan Patrick Aloysius McManus.

Nonetheless, I adhere to Shakespeare’s character’s belief.  Cliches are true for a reason.  “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”  Case in point, Toxic Sludge Black IPA from Blue Point Brewing.

Instead of turning people off with an unattractive name, the brewery is making a point.  Man’s interference with nature has lead to some pretty nasty disasters; something we along the Panhandle are more than painfully aware of only 5 days into the 2nd anniversary of the Deep Water Horizon spill.  Blue Point wanted to make a beer whose profits benefit wildlife rescue and preservation.  Using a black IPA, in my book, is actually quite the opposite of poor taste.

So its color is reminiscent of something bad that had an incredibly negative impact on all life along the coast.  We all mourn in different ways, I suppose.  Some people need that reminder lest we become complacent, especially those not affected.  Either way, Sludge’s taste is anything but poor.  Toxic is cola-dark and sports a thick tan head of foam that lingers… well, like the effects of an oil spill, not to put too fine a point on it.  The residual lacing is painted on to the interior of the glass; evidence of a strong hop presence.  I know the word caramel is used a lot in describing a beer, but this one has such a natural sweet caramel scent above the dusting of cocoa and big, piney hops.  Like a Brach’s Caramel Crème candy with a note of citrus and forest.  Those hops take center stage on the palate while dried dark fruits and toffee show up to take a bow at the end.

Equally sweet and bitter, Toxic Sludge is the perfect – and perfectly-balanced – embodiment of that famous line from Romeo and Juliet.  Trust me, my name is Bill Schtinkwater.