"founded in 2004; born at the dawn of civilization" claims the popular Brooklyn-based brewery, Sixpoint. Created to push the boundaries on the overall perception + styles of beer, Sixpoint has since established itself as one of Brooklyn's finest breweries, with almost every Brooklyn bar offering some variation of their brews on tap (you'd be hard-pressed to find a bar that doesn't carry SWEET ACTION—their staple cream ale/pale ale hybrid). The team at Sixpoint was even nice enough to provide the local suds for our Brooklyn FoodWorks pop-up dinner a few months back. We were eager to learn more about their operation + culture, so we stopped by their original Red Hook spot for a tour, a few drinks + a quick chat with Brand Messaging Specialist Mikey Lenane…
hg: walk us through a bit of the history of Sixpoint, and what circumstances led to the founding of the brewery in 2004.
mikey: Shane Welch came to Brooklyn from Wisconsin to open the, then tiny, garage brewery of Sixpoint. He had amassed over 1,000 homebrew recipes in a basement in Madison, Wisconsin, was winner of numerous homebrew awards + had also apprenticed at now defunct Angelic Brewing in Madison.
hg: explain the significance of the “brewer’s star” + how it factored into the name, logo + mission for the brewery.
mikey: the Brewer’s Star, or “Brauerstern,” was the mark of quality for centuries. It ensured that the beer was safe, unadultered + made by professionals. The Sixpoint Star is an amalgamation of the Brauerstern and the Nautical Star…guiding you to great beer wherever you see it.
hg: why did you decide to set up shop in Brooklyn (Red Hook, specifically)?
mikey: Sixpoint was actually the first brewery to begin operations + brewing in NYC and succeed since prohibition. This has been a big beer + lager town for generations, so yes there were challenges, but in 2004 we were right on the cusp of a huge boom in Brooklyn craftsmanship and that was a major reason Shane set up shop here.
hg: how have you seen craft brewing change (for better or for worse) since 2004? What are some lingering issues or factors which you feel should be addressed more often by brewers?
mikey: the scene now does not resemble the scene in 2004 or even in 2010. There are now what, 30 breweries operating in NYC? The tap room scene is thriving.
hg: let’s touch on your brewing philosophy + how you brew. Could you further clarify your unique approach + how you combine elements from multiple styles of beer to create brews with “boundless style?”
mikey: The key to our approach is the mindset. For thousands of years, people have brewed beers to their own tastes…but now “style guidelines” impose restrictions on creativity. Rather than dreaming about the best flavor you could create, brewers settle to aim for a “brown ale” or something similar. Shane elaborates more here.
hg: what are some of your more popular year-round brews? Anything new or experimental in fermentation now? Any “otherworldly” recipes you’re itching to experiment with?
"In NYC, SWEET ACTION is king."
It’s a wholly authentic NYC phenomenon, brewed originally as a one-off for a short-lived ladies magazine; it’s now among the most popular beer in the city. Outside of that, RESIN has taken off tremendously. People can’t get enough of the dankness.
As far as new stuff, 2017 is going to be huge. In May you’ll see what I’m talking about…
hg: your cans are unique—taller + thinner than the standard 12oz size. What factored into the decision to use these cans? Are there any added benefits beer-wise to enjoying suds from this style/shape?
mikey: this was part of an evolution. We began with the four pack of 16oz pounder cans. When we brewed our first high octane canned beer, RESIN, we wanted to put it in 12oz cans but retain the look and feel of our previous pack, so we went slim.
hg: your “beer is culture” mission statement graces almost everything Sixpoint does (cans, website, etc.)—could you further explain its meaning + how you’re involved in the Red Hook community?
mikey: we host a slew of events around Red Hook, and work closely with the killer network of bars and restaurants around here. For a small neighborhood, the scene is awesome.
"Beer is Culture" means a lot of things—it references beer’s influence on the origins of agricultural society, as well as its importance as a cultural meeting place.
hg: Sixpoint is involved with several local charities + charitable events, such as Beer for Beasts—an event in which beer sales directly contribute to the Humane Society of New York. Why was it important for Sixpoint to give back to the community?
mikey: the love of animals is built right into the DNA of the company. Shane Welch, President + Founder of Sixpoint has three rescue dogs. When we first started our brewery, there were brewery cats all over. So it’s been a part of what we do since day one.
hg: currently your Red Hook spot is a brewing-only operation—any plans to offer a tap room?
"Our tap room is set to open up in early 2018 and it’s going to be epic."