Next week, Indiana will welcome a new beer company to town from the borough of Brooklyn. I've had the pleasure of having their beer on several occasions in my travels to the East Coast. Sixpoint is a canning operation that currently cans in 16 oz. cans, but they will be launching a 12 oz. "tall boy" can for their newest DIPA called Resin. We reached out to Shane Welch, the president of Sixpoint, for one of our six pack interviews.
1. Who are you and where do you work?
My name is Shane C. Welch, and I am the President and Founder of Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn, NYC.
2. Indiana is a great state that is really taking off for craft beer. What about the Indiana market attracted you to begin selling here?
Because the people of Indiana are the type of people I can have a beer with. :-) There is something about the Midwest, particularly the Great Lakes region, that I can instantly identify with. I was born and raised in the Midwest, so these are my roots. I always knew I would one day bring my beer back to the people who helped make it all happen, so it was just a matter of time.
3. How did Sixpoint get to where it is today? Can you tell us a little about its founding and the people behind it? What is the company's mission statement around crafting new beer?
Sixpoint arrived at where it is today through a groundswell of support and innovation from the community and its staff. It's the people that made it happen. Sixpoint is merely a reflection of this collective effort.
I have a history with beer that goes back to when I was two years old (see attached photo). There was always something magical about beer to me, and as a chemistry study it seemed like the perfect application for my knowledge. Therefore, I started homebrewing on the regular while in college. By my junior year, I was completely hooked and brewing several times per week. I eventually decided to drop out of school (my parents were pissed) to pursue brewing full-time. I took up a job at a local homebrew supply store, and eventually landed a position at the Angelic Brewing Company in Madison, WI. I worked there for three years and actually went back to school and completed my degree, then traveled around the world for 9 months and visited over 100 breweries before starting Sixpoint. Sixpoint represents a mashup (no pun intended) of my collective homebrewing experience, my three-year apprenticeship at Angelic Brewing Company, and my visits, experiences, and internships at various breweries around the globe.
Our mission statement around craft beer is we brew to taste, not to style. The inspiration comes through improvisation to us, so there is a lot of feeling and sentiment in what we do. However, we have a solid bedrock of the scientific fundamentals underneath all of this, so that is why we call ourselves the "Mad Scientists."
4. Is Indiana going to be getting your full portfolio of beer? What beers can we look for to start with distribution?
Our full portfolio of beer consists of over 200 varieties, so unfortunately you won't get everything! :-) That said, you will be able to get all four core flavors in draft and cans, as well as the four seasonal beers. You also will have the Spice of Life Series and some of the Mad Scientists Series as well. So you will be launching with at least 10 different offerings to start, with extra treats thrown in for the Indiana Winter Beer Fest. :-)
5. Sixpoint is a canning operation. 16 oz. cans is how most of your beers are being released to the public. Can you talk a little bit about the decision to do some cans (Resin at least) in 12 oz. tallboy format?
The primary reason is to provide value to the customer and keep the price reasonable. A 4-pack of 16 oz. double IPAs is going to be running over $10 for sure in most markets, and up to $13-15 in Manhattan where there are outrageous markups at the retail level. But that is not the most important reason why. We are doing this because we believe for too long, "big" beers (meaning high gravity beers, or high "potency" beers with a lot of IBUs and ABV) are in too large of a format. Let's say you get home one evening and you crack open a 22 oz. bottle of a really strong double IPA. It may taste great after the first few sips, but after 12 ounces of beer it really starts to warm up and you might be ready to move on to a different style. At that point though, you still have 10 oz. of beer to burn through. We feel it's better to have the option to savor a smaller amount of a complex beer than be forced to finish a higher quantity in one sitting. After all - does anyone ever pour a 22 oz. draft of double IPA at a bar? No, of course not. As a matter of fact, they usually pour you less than the standard 16 oz. A more complex, flavorful brew is often enjoyed best when it's savored. That is why we wanted to offer this beer in a 12 oz. format instead of the typical 16 oz. We feel it's the appropriate amount of liquid to enjoy in a session. And most important, if you wanted 22 oz. of it, well you can just open up another 12 oz.! :-) Also, sometimes it's fun to try 3 different beers in one evening. That's pretty hard to do when you are talking about drinking three 22 oz. bombers of beers like double IPA. That's the equivalent of drinking an entire 12-pack of regular beer. Last, and this is an important consideration for folks who live in NYC, Philly, Boston, Washington DC, etc. - or anyone who has a small apartment or home really - its simply better to have a tall slim can. It's smart design - like building skyscrapers in your fridge. The narrower width and taller height allows you to make more efficient use of your limited refrigerator space. This way, you can fit more beer more efficiently into the same footprint of space. Easier for beer trades too! :-) Just sayin.' For these four main reasons we have opted for the 12 oz. tallboy for this release.
6. What else should a craft beer drinker that is new to Sixpoint know about beer? What beers are your favorites that Sixpoint produces? Any epic failures that just didn't do well when first rolled out or in R&D?
I could probably write a whole book about epic failures. Luckily, when you people trust you, or more importantly, they trust your intentions, they are willing to forgive when you don't quite hit the bullseye on the first go-around. Many of our epic failures are actually operational rather than beer recipes that didn't turn out right. Like the time we decided to dry hop a batch of double IPA with four large sacks of hops (about 30 lbs. in a 15bbl batch). Of course, the hop bags clogged the drain port and the beer was completely stuck in the tank with no way of getting out. Haha. Then there is the time I had the brilliant idea of doing a Carob Porter. Carob is great because it's the hippie chocolate, right? Yeah, except when you boil it down into the kettle it turns into a thick tar, and this sludge clogs all of your centrifugal pumps and burns the motor out. LOL. Smells like burning!
I don't know if I have any favorite, as it changes throughout the season. Be on the lookout for a very special sour, spontaneously fermented beer we did recently. It's really quite tart and refreshing. Very cool.
And of course, we have a ton of stuff in the pipeline as per our tradition of being the Mad Scientists...so we'll always be keeping it fresh, with the strong core portfolio.
☮ ☮ ☮ ☮ ☮ ☮
Shane C. Welch
Sixpoint - Brooklyn - NYC 11231
We really appreciate the time Shane has taken to answer our questions. I also find it of note that Sixpoint's price point will be in the neighborhood of $8.99 for their four pack offerings here in Indiana.