Sixpoint Brewery - by Charlie Lopresto
As my friend and fellow Cook Out NYC attendee Arthur Zak isn't very fond of drinking or reviewing beer (see his post), I thought I might step up to bat and offer my thoughts on a few of the beers I had at last week's event.
First, may I offer a disclaimer to those readers, like Arthur, who may have decided beer just isn’t their thing. All beers are not created equal. There is a lot to enjoy, appreciate, and experience beyond what the Natty-Ice’s or big national brands have to offer. As someone who, like most, had my first experiences with beer through trying a few of these common varieties here or there at summer barbecues or perhaps at a bar with a few friends, I quickly realized that my palate was seeking something beyond the idea of a cold drink to wash down salty bar nuts. Living in NYC for the past four years, where one doesn't have to walk more than a few blocks to pass several bars and restaurants, all with different beers on tap, I had always been curious about what brews rested behind those taps with names I hadn't seen plastered on billboards or in national advertising campaigns. What were these concoctions called IPAs and Tripels? How the heck do you pronounce “Hefeweizen”?
I think I remember the first "adventurous" beer tasting decision I made was ordering a Sam Addams Seasonal (an increasingly popular, yet still small scale brewery). The flavor profile and complexity that this brew offered, compared to some of those other big-brand, national-level go-to's, was striking. I was intrigued. From there, tasting a new beer every time I had an opportunity became a personal challenge to educate my palate and begin to parse through the ever expanding network of microbreweries (local, smaller scale manufacturers) and imported specialties. So, dear reader, I implore you to taste a new beer here and there, and to perhaps one day (if you haven't already) be able to join the ranks of good beer enthusiasts around the world and feel like a sophisticated adult when ordering your beer, instead of the unfortunately associated stereotype of a fist-pumping "Bro".
Now, on to Sixpoint! Upon entering Cook Out, volunteers handed us a Sixpoint beer cozy, the quintessential summer barbecue tool for keeping your beer cold and avoiding condensation build up on your hand. Not having much experience with Sixpoint in the past, this gesture, along with their slogan of "Beer is Culture" had me expecting good things from this local microbrewery out of Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY. As it was already in the lower 90s near noon, and only going to get hotter throughout the day, the cold brews available at several points throughout the cook out were a welcomed relief. The setting of a summertime cook out had me expecting a bunch of lighter beers, as lighter beers are typically easier to drink and therefore, better for helping you cool down and enjoy a few without worrying about feeling full or overwhelmed by heavy flavors.
The first beer I tried was Sixpoint's Bengali Tiger. Instantly recognizable as a full and passion-filled IPA, this ferocious ale may be deemed a tiger for more reasons than its rich orange color. With a strong but not overbearing hoppy bitterness, this is a sturdy ale with undeniable character and full flavor. My personal favorite beer of the day, and my recommendation for those looking for a darker ale that wrestles with your palate a bit.
Next up was The Crisp which was, well, crisp! A quality that every beer drinker admires, and certainly seeks out during the warmer months, crispness offers a flavor sharpness combined with drinkability to create a refreshing and enjoyable experience. Brewed with a very old hop varietal known as "Noble Hops" (which has seen a recent upswing in usage amongst microbrewers far and wide), The Crisp gains an undeniable flavor smoothness and character that is like nothing else.
Following a few more sliders and sausages, I made my way back to a beer tent to fill my cozy with a big ol' Sixpoint can of their summer seasonal brew, the Apollo. As seasonal brews are often produced with the flavors and climates of the season in mind, Sixpoint's spot-on version of a summer ale is just what you are looking to grab on a hot day. With a lighter body than heavier grain brews, this Bavarian Wheat ale offers not only a great alternative to more filling darker brews, but also an unexpectedly complex flavor profile for a lighter varietal. With a hint of sweetness reminiscent of some long-forgotten childhood candy, the Apollo goes down easy and leaves you contemplating cracking open a second can soon.
The last beer I tried was the Sweet Action. This beer is difficult to describe; even the Sixpoint website offers only a contrite, head-scratching attempt to describe it. As this brew is a mix of different ale styles, I found the resultant flavor profile somewhat muddled, reminiscent of mixing a bunch of brilliantly pure colored paints together, which invariably result in a murky brown. This is the only beer I had that day which I tried once before (on tap at Brooklyn Bowl). I remember not being too fond of it then, and I still think it hasn't grown on me. Perhaps some more experience with mixed ale concoctions will broaden my palate to understanding what Sixpoint calls its "original Sixpoint style- hard to define, but perhaps that's why people love it" brew.
As I walked away from the cook out, content from enjoying the many variations of grilled meats and beers, I have to say that Sixpoint certainly helped heighten this experience for me! I am glad I was able to sample and enjoy a few new beers, and look forward to ordering a Sixpoint the next time I find one on tap, and invite you to do the same!