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, 


  1. Sixpoint was founded before Ale Asylum was and the name "Sixpoint" refers to their logo, which is the six-pointed brewers star. The people at the Ale Asylum stole their logo idea from Sixpoint after they saw how great and powerful it was. Its always easier to copy someone than come up with an original idea of your own. ;-)

  2. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in the case of trademarks, it's called infringement.

  3. I know you like to shit on WI brewers but Central Waters does their fair share of experimentation, nearly on par with NG, and if Dave's BrewFarm bottled and distributed half the shit they bring to the Great Taste they'd be right up there too. And if brewpubs count then the Vintage is as good as anyone out there.

    As for this beer I did quite enjoy it though it was a bit thin in the body for my tastes, and I didn't pick up the same level of flavor you did. My favorite Sixpoint beers so far are the Righteous, the Crisp and Apollo. They definitely are making some great beers.

  4. Jeff,

    You've inspired me. Perhaps we'll brew a non-Wisconsiner hop beast and describe it as "unbalanced beer for unbalanced people". What do you think?

    The back page of the most recent New Brewer has a brief interview with Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker who I really admire as both a Brewer and a person. He's one of the really good ones. When asked what his favorite beer he doesn't brew is his response is "I find myself gravitating to lager beer when I'm away from our brewery". My hero.

  5. Kirby, you're speaking my language! I may be the only person in Wisconsin who buys it, though. But, hey, you guys distribute outside of Wisconsin, it will probably sell better there (not a bad thing, to be honest). Moreover, lager and hoppy are not mutually exclusive; lager and experimental are not mutually exclusive. Who says you can't make a brandy-barrel smoked helles? Or an apple-smoked Dark? etc.

    Wallrock. I try not to shit on WI brewers; I try to make any criticism constructive. I totally agree that there's lots of great experimentation that is going on in the pubs of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, very little of it makes it into a bottle. And, admittedly, some of that might be the rather arbitrary rules we apply to breweries to here that force beer-makers to pick one or the other.

    As for the infringement stuff, I'm going to follow up soon (hopefully by the end of the week?) with an article about the Brewer's Star that is the central inspiration of both logos (ps. thanks Anon1 for the point in that direction - never knew about the brewer's star).

  6. I know, I know. I just like to give you a hard time when I hear things like non-Wisconsin IPA or that no one in the Midwest likes hops. While non-craft beer drinkers are probably never going to be into really hoppy beers there are plenty of people here that love them. There just isn't the arms race to brew the hoppiest beer possible among the local stable of brewers. Still, I'd put beers like Hop Whoopin' or NG's IIPA up against anything I've tried from the coasts. Now I don't rightly know if those beers are flying off the shelves...

  7. Jeff - how can you say "Mr. Welch likes hops; so does much of America outside of the Midwest" and then follow that up by saying "Wisconsin breweries seem content to brew a core set of styles (pale ale, amber, scotch ale, porter, and IPA, usually)". So we have a state full of pale ales and IPAs and popular brews like Alpha King, Daisy Cutter, etc. are hoppy yet you imply that this region doesn't care for hops. Good lord, your co-blogger spends most of his time at AA brewing Hopalicious. If there were no hopheads around here, AA probably wouldn't be running at capacity and be building a new brewery.

    Wallrock - my understanding is that NG's IIPA does indeed fly off shelves.

  8. NG's IIPA can stand with the "big boys"--the Colorado and California brews have nothing on this wonderful brew that Dan Carey put out this spring. I just wish he'd make it part of his regular stable of beers. But I agree with Jeff; most Wisconsin brewers aren't into the super-hoppy IPA's--but we, the consumers, are. I've got a hunch that in the next few years we'll see breweries like NG and OSO getting their great IPA's out on the shelves for us to enjoy.


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