Friday, June 29, 2012

Sweet Action – Sixpoint Craft Ales

                So, this post on Sweet Action is the third and final post for Sixpoint Craft Ales week.  Don’t get me wrong, this certainly is not the last post that I will do on a Sixpoint brew, their beers are too delicious.  Heck, once I get a more solid footing and/or following, I hope to do a series of interviews with Master Brewers and founders.  I hope that Mr. Welch will be one of the first when the time comes.

On to the review:

                On Beeradvocate Sweet Action currently has a score of 88 with a 98 from the Bros.  Over at ratebeer it has an 82 overall and a 100 for style.

They say: 
"Have you tried Sixpoint Sweet Action?"

These are the words that have been whispered between cupped hands in bars of New York. This grass roots phenomenon has now blossomed into a citywide force of recognition for this unique and mysterious brew.

What is Sixpoint Sweet Action?

Sweet Action is an idea, a concept. It is a simple representation of what makes beer great—the marriage of barley and hops, in a harmonious balance for your mind, body, and soul. The experience is transcendental. You must experience it yourself.

Sweet is from barley malt—maltose—the sugar that coats your tongue like honey and reminds you of the sweet, relaxed side of life.

Action is from hops—the bittering spice—the herb that brushes your palate clean with every sip and reminds you of the active, energetic side of life.

You have heard of the wonders and magic of the Legend, but have you experienced Sweet Action?

ABV - 5.2%
IBU - 34
SRM - 12

The can adds:

Ah love is bitter and sweet, but which is more sweet the bitterness or the sweetness, none has spoken it.
Sweet Action is an idea; a concept. It is the simple representation of what makes beer great – the marriage of barley and hops in a harmonious balance of sweet and bitter.

Jake (the Wisconsin sales rep) adds:

A 'hybrid' beer of sorts.  Part cream ale, part pale ale, part wheat brew.  Very complex beer with 5 different malts and 4 different hops.  Flavor profile changes throughout the sip - starts with a wheat mouthfeel, transitions to a honey sweetness, and finishes with a tropical fruit-like finish.  Easy drinking beer ... great for a hot day.  Aroma doesn't give the beer away. 

I say:

                Sweet Action is an interesting beer that doesn’t really fit into any of the current categories, it is a hybrid/specialty beer, but it isn’t really a cream ale, not quite because it’s a little too hoppy to be one.  It’s not really a wheat because wheat doesn’t play the primary role.  It isn’t quite a pale ale because it doesn’t come close to falling with in the style.  Then again, brewing is an art and the style guidelines exist primarily for judging in competitions and communicating information about a beer to the end consumer.  

                Sweet Action pours hazy amber with a very nice foamy white head that had excellent retention.  As with the Bengali Tiger, the haze looks like it is from a generous dry hop addition.  The aromas are of sweet pale malt and floral esters with a pleasant citrus and pine hop notes.

                The flavor starts strong, it is very malt forward with the pale malts and wheat making their presence known followed up with a an excellent citrusy bitterness.  I bet this beer would be excellent on tap.  This is another very drinkable beer, were it on tap at my house I would be in danger of emptying a keg over a week without even realizing it.  Sweet Action is medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

                It is another great beer from Sixpoint!  If you can find it, go out and pick up a 4-pack!

                That’s all for the day!  I am heading off to the latest Master Brewer Series brew day at Discovery World in Milwaukee! It was a b-day present from my wife!

                Happy Drinking!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bengali Tiger – Sixpoint Craft Ales

                Welcome to the second of three posts on Sixpoint Craft Ales from Brooklyn, NY.  I wish I could say that I had more interesting history to throw at you, my ever so faithful reader.  However, I covered everything that I feel comfortable posting without an interview with Mr. Shane Welch, one of the brewers, or perhaps the head of PR.  And, since you probably come here for the beer reviews I should probably just get right on with it.  The Wednesday post is on another of Sixpoint’s year round beers, Bengali Tiger.

                Bengali Tiger is Sixpoint’s take on an IPA, and is in the tradition of East Coast IPAs.  I won’t jump into the feud over whether a west coast or east coast IPA is better because quite frankly I enjoy them both.  Sometimes I want the nice full bodied and malty east coast version and other times I want the overwhelming bitterness that is popular out in California.  If you are interested in the differences and want to hear arguments in support of East vs. West I would highly recommend Googling : East Coast vs. West Coast IPA.  You will find many viewpoints on which is superior, but in the end both are great interpretations of the style.

                On Beeradvocate, Bengali Tiger has a score of 88 with a 99 from the Bros.(the Bros are definitely dead on as usual).  Over at ratebeer it has a 94 overall and an 89 for style.

They Say:

What immortal hand or eye. Could frame thy fearful symmetry? The Sixpoint homebrewed IPA interpretation. Blaze orange in color, with an abundance of citrus hop bitterness, and a full pine and grapefruit bouquet in the aroma.

ABV - 6.4%
IBU - 62
SRM - 13

The can adds:

                … Strides forward with a malty cadence, then leaps with a wave of bitterness. Slashed with a giant paw of citrus, pine, and resin!  Note the lacing of stripes around your glass – it is the mark of the Tiger.

Jake (the Wisconsin sales rep) adds:

                A citrusy, tropical American IPA.  East-coast style - malty & hop-forward, not hop aggressive.  Citra, Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial hops.  Just the right amount of bitterness with Bengali - very well-balanced.

I say:

                Bengali Tiger pours a hazy deep gold with a very nice, thick, creamy, light tan head with excellent retention and great lacing.  I would wager that the haze is hop derived from a generous dry-hop addition.  The aromas are piney, earthy and resiny with a generous amount of citrus and bready notes on the back end.

                The flavor starts malty and earthy, transitioning into citrus and resin hop notes before finishing smooth and creamy with piney hop notes lingering in the background.  This is definitely a dangerous beer in that I could easily drink through a 4-pack of cans without realizing it, it is just so unbelievably smooth and drinkable.   Bengali Tiger is medium to full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

                This is an excellent beer that you should try if you can find it.  I thoroughly enjoyed Righteous and Bengali Tiger confirms that Sixpoint definitely brews excellent beers!

                That’s all for today! Check back on Friday for a review of Sweet Action!

                Happy Drinking!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Righteous Ale – Sixpoint Craft Ales

                This is the first of three posts in a row on Sixpoint Craft Ales from Brooklyn, NY.  Founded in an 800 square foot garage in 2004 by Shane Welch, Sixpoint began producing excellent beers.  Shane, who grew up in Milwaukee, started home brewing for the same reason many home brewers do, because he wanted a constant supply of flavorful, good beer.  Quickly building his home brew expertise, Shane caught the attention of Dean Coffey the head brewer at the now defunct Angelic Brewing Company in Madison who hired Shane as an apprentice brewer.  Over his three years at Angelic, Shane continued to hone his brewing skills before taking time off for a backpacking trip around the world, and I am sure stopping at many breweries along the way.  Five years after he started home brewing, Shane founded Sixpoint.  In 2005, Sixpoint began to distribute beer outside of the brewery.  With the support of their local community Sixpoint was noticed by Union Beer Distributors and the rest as they say is history.

Six Point Brewery Door from
                Sixpoint now has a staggering amount of beers in their lineup. The lineup includes five year round brews: Sweet Action, Righteous Ale, Bengali Tiger, The Crisp and Resin; four seasonal beers: Harbinger, Apollo, Autumnation and Diesel; The Spice of Life series, a series of single hop beers that are released monthly; a line of beers they refer to as the Mad Scientists Series, their line of experimental and extreme beers; and the Beers for Beasts series which benefits the Humane Society of New York.  Of course, they also have a line-up of small batch beers that are only available on tap at the brewery.

                Sixpoint began distributing in Wisconsin this past April with Jake, their Wisconsin rep at the helm.  Jake has been very helpful in getting information on Sixpoint’s beers to me and I hope he is successful in raising awareness of this wonderful Brooklyn Brewery founded by a Milwaukee-native.
The Brewer's Star -

                You are probably wondering what’s up with the Sixpoint star. The brewer’s star or Brauerstern (in German) resembles the more well-known Star of David, but instead of finding its roots in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, it is widely believed to be an Alchemical symbol. The earliest known occurrence of the star being adopted by brewer’s guilds is the early 1500’s, although it has unofficially been associated with brewing since the late 1300’s. Each of the points on the star represents a portion of the brewing process. One of the triangles is said to represent the three elements involved in brewing: fire, water and air. The other symbolizes the three ingredients in brewing: malt, hops and water. There is the noticeable absence of yeast from the list of ingredients because it was not until 1857 when Louis Pasteur discovered that yeast was the reason the ingredients fermented into beer. A more modern interpretation of the star indicates that the Brewers Star symbolizes a pure product with the six points representing the six aspects of quality brewing pure water, hops, grain, malt, yeast and the brewer.

                On to the review of the beer that is going to kick off Sixpoint Craft Ales week, Righteous Ale. On Beeradvocate Righteous Ale has a score of 90. Over at ratebeer it has a 94 overall and a 97 for style.

They say:
The official commercial description on the can is–

                They should be good men; their affairs as righteous: But all hoods make not monks. Beneath a deep blanket of snow there is a cereal grain that can survive the harsh winters and acidic soils - RYE. Like a draped hood over a monk, it is the righteousness inside that shines.

The official description on the website adds –

                The Made with Rye malt to provide a signature and distinct earthy character. Seasoned and dry-hopped with herbal and citrus hops. Truly Righteous.

Jake (the extremely helpful Wisconsin sales rep) adds -

                Considered a rye pale ale. I really enjoy the dry, earthy spice in the finish of this one. Tastes like an English-style pale ale. Hopped with cascade, Columbus, and Chinook hops.  More malt-forward, however.  Has a nice bready character which comes from the chocolate malt added during the brew process.

I say:

                Righteous pours a beautiful light mahogany, perhaps it would be dark copper if there were more of an orange hue to it. It has an excellent rocky tan head that had excellent retention and left wonderful lacing in the glass. The aromas coming off the beer were very earthy with citrus and a very pleasant spiciness coming from the rye at the back end. This beer almost smelled too good to drink.. Almost…

                The flavor started smooth and sweet with subtle citrus notes from the hops, followed by chocolate and bready notes with an earthy, spicy, bitter, dry finish. It was reminiscent of a good fresh baked rye bread with just the right amount of toasted rye added to enhance the flavor. Righteous is medium bodied and almost creamy with a light to medium level of carbonation. This would be an awesome beer to have served from either a firkin or on Nitro.

                Sixpoint has produced an excellent rye beer that has me hoping to have more of their beers in the near future.

                That’s all for tonight! Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a review of Bengali Tiger, and on Friday for a review of Sweet Action.

                Happy drinking!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cerise (cellared) – Founders Brewing

                      Cerise is an interesting beer, and Founders is a great brewery.  Founders has a long line of one off beers that I have unfortunately been unable to procure through the years.  Well, that’s not entirely true because I was lucky enough to find a few bottles of Blushing Monk last year; and I get on the waiting list for KBS 5 months before it is released every year.  However, I seem to miss everything else they release.  I am sure that their rare releases are wonderful, but having never actually had them, I cannot comment.  I have however had many of their year round and seasonal beers over the years.  One seasonal in particular, Cerise, is my wife’s favorite; so I am quick to pick up a 4-pack when I notice it in liquor stores.

                      Last year I talked my wife into letting me cellar a bottle for a year to see how it would develop.  Cerise is an excellent cherry beer when it’s fresh, but the real question is whether or not it ages, especially with the growing trend amongst craft beer drinkers to cellar beers.  Heck, I have let my cellar grow to over 100 bottles, but that’s a story for another time.  Sure, I could have tried it after 6 months, but what’s the fun in that.  I hope to get a review of a fresh bottle of Cerise out in the next couple weeks since it is back in stores through August.  I had hoped to get grain bill information from Founders, but have yet to hear back.  On to the review:

                      On Beeradvocate, Cerise has an 83.  Over at ratebeer it has an 83 overall and a 95 for style.  The two review sites seem to match up nicely on Cerise.  Perhaps that is because it is exactly what it claims to be, a great ale fermented with tart cherries.

They say:

You'll have a soft spot for this one. Using only fresh Michigan tart cherries, this beauty tantalizes with intense flavors combined with a no-hesitation malt bill. Adding fresh cherries at five separate stages of fermentation achieves the ultimate balance between tartness and sweetness.

6.5% ABV
15 IBUs

I say:

                After being aged for a year in the cellar, Cerise poured amber with definite reddish/pink hues.  It had a very thin light pink head with no retention, but did leave slight lacing.  The aroma is primarily sweet and malty with a very mild cherry finish.

                The sweet maltiness carried over into the flavor and was supported by an almost kirsch-like sour cherry.  Aging had given Cerise alcohol notes, that melded nicely with the cherry and sweet malts.  Cerise is medium bodied, and slightly syrupy with a low to medium level of carbonation, making it an excellent dessert beer.

                Cellaring a relatively low alcohol beer with a low hop level definitely could have led to a beer that became undrinkable, and would have left me wishing that I had not left it in my cellar for a year.  However, the 1-year-old bottle of Cerise passed the test.  The kirsch notes in the flavor were very pleasant and served to accentuate the malts.  This was an excellent beer.

                However, as a word of caution; if you pick up a 4-pack of Cerise try it fresh before you consider storing it in the cellar.  You may love it fresh and not be willing to part with one of the bottles for a year.  On the other hand, it certainly was great after spending a year in my beer cellar.

                That’s all for today.  Check back soon for a review of Righteous Ale from Sixpoint Brewery.

Happy Drinking!