Monday, May 28, 2012

Speaking of Hipsters and Craft Beer - Six Point Bengali Tiger

You have probably heard by now that there's a new brewery in town - Six Point Brewery from Brooklyn, New York. You may have already had some of their beers; the Righteous (a hoppy rye Pale Ale), Bengali Tiger (an American IPA), and Resin (a uber-hoppy 103 IBU hop monster) all have fairly high availability at your local brew shop (as well as their other two core brands, but those these three seem to have the highest availability).

Indeed, you're probably also aware that Six Point head brewer and founder Shane Welch went to UW-Madison and honed his chops working with Ale Asylum's Dean Coffey at Angelic Brewing Company and probably even sold you some beer-making supplies during his days working at the Wine and Hop Shop. If you weren't aware of this, you can read plenty about it here, here, and here.

Six Point already has a bit of reputation as a hipster beer - earning their bona fides by showing off their chops at a Merchant beer dinner during Madison Craft Beer Week. Frankly, I think it is unfair to classify Six Point as merely hipster pablum. Mr. Welch likes hops; so does much of America outside of the Midwest. And while Wisconsin breweries seem content to brew a core set of styles (pale ale, amber, scotch ale, porter, and IPA, usually) with the occassional seasonal or specialty thrown in, only New Glarus has the commitment to experimentation and advancement that Mr. Welch has shown. [ed note: I know you will want to argue with me that your favorite brewery brews specialty beers "all the time", but unless your favorite brewery can count their styles and brands in the dozens, it simply doesn't compare] 

In addition to the six core brands, Six Point commits to four seasonals, and another 9 semi-regulars. But that's only just the beginning as Six Point's dogmatic sense of experimentation has resulted in three series that have resulted in virtually limitless styles (a Belgian golden with German hops and shiso grown on the brewery's rooftop?). So, next time your favorite brewery says that they simply don't have the capacity to experiment as much as they'd like, tell them should like to much more often and maybe they'd find the space.

Also, is it just me, or does the Six Point logo and the Ale Asylum logo look awfully similar? 

Six Point Bengali Tiger IPA
BA (88). RB (94).
Appearance: poured from a 16-oz can into a 20oz Sam Adams glass, the generous, white, foamy, sticky head quickly rises to a nice 2-finger perch on top of a hazy new-penny copper body
Aroma: juicy grapefruit and pine are predominate, without a hint of malt in the aroma at all; indeed, the aroma is surprisingly muted here, making me wonder whether the aroma is supposed to be muted, if I'm serving it too cold, or if this can might be a little old (though, the best before date on the bottom indicates that this should be good until January 2013)
Flavor: Although clocking in at 62 IBU, the bitterness is up-front but not overwhelming; the clear focus is on hop flavor, not hop bitterness; in this regard, the juiciness of the hops comes out clear as a sunny day in Madison; the flavor explodes with pine and ruby grapefruit; the malts are reserved and definitely take a backseat.
Body: medium to medium-thin, there is a big upfront hit of flavor, which goes away quickly, but then the citrus hop finish lingers on and on and the full bitterness starts to creep in.
Drinkability: hard to tell if I should drink this one fast or slow, but I would probably drink this four-pack entirely too quickly if I weren't paying attention
Summary: If American IPAs are your thing, and they are mine, then you'll like this; if you don't need malt in your beer, you'll like it even more; I'd say that this is a "west-coast style" but, really, at this point, breweries all over the country from Stone and Sierra Nevada to Surly to Coast to Fat Head to Six Point are all making beer like this, so maybe we should just say "non-Wisconsin American IPA". Personally, I find it refreshing and a nice change of pace from the "balanced" IPAs favored by Wisconsin breweries. Is it my favorite IPA ever made? No, but so what? It's a great change of pace and they managed to beat Surly to Wisconsin,