Bengali, Sixpoint Brewery
Beer is Culture.
Growing up in Milwaukee - home of the likes of Miller and Pabst brewing companies, beer was one of Shane Welch’s earliest memories. By his own account, his first experience of beer was drinking the dregs from his dad’s ceramic stein when he was just two years old.
This fascination stayed with him through to college where Shane’s fascination switched from just drinking beer to experiments in home-brewing and “listening to lots of reggae” [this is possibly ‘code’ for something - Gordon]. It was during this time that he met fellow Sixpoint founder, Andrew Bronstein.
In November 2004 Sixpoint Brewery was officially established. Operating out of a disused filing cabinet factory in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Shane began the process of scaling up some of the 1,000 or so home-brew recipes he had documented during his college years.
It would be six years until you would be able to find their beers anywhere other than the local bars within driving distance of their beat-up Subaru. At this point, they made the jump to putting their beers in cans, not bottles and distinctive tall, thin cans at that. They haven’t stopped being different since.
Beer is Culture. This is more than a nice strap-line for Sixpoint, it’s rooted in Shane’s fascination with beer. From its place in switching us from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled farmers to the role that beer plays in politics, music… art. It also reflects their commitment to beer as a living thing, an unfiltered and unpasteurised product.
Even their logo, the Sixpoint Star, represents the bringing together of the Nautical Star (Red Hook was originally a seaport) and the German Brauerstern, the official symbol of one of the world’s earliest brewer’s guilds.
Sixpoint has never had an expansive core range nor are they ones for sticking to particular styles. This week’s beer is no exception. Bengali represents the latest iteration of one of the original home-brew experiments. Described as an IPA this recipe has slowly changed to reflect our feelings towards what this beer style should or could be. The current iteration is strong [yay! - Gordon] and dry it has all the tell-tale signs of a modern hop forward American style IPA. It also has more than a nod towards the origins of this style, a beer that is capable of travelling some distance and not being worse off for the journey. And the name, Bengali? This could be a reference to the Indian subcontinent. It could also be a reference to the tiger-like stripes of foam that it leaves on the glass as you drink it. You might need to be “listening to lots of reggae” to get this effect.
For those of us who don’t get to go to New York that often, you may have been lucky enough to sample some of Sixpoint’s core range in the beer fridges of your local Wetherspoons [Hey, that’s where we first tried them - Gordon]. It was always a bit hit and miss in finding any though. In November last year, Sixpoint was acquired by Artisanal Brewing Ventures (ABV!), a joint venture between two other independent US breweries. We’re hoping this means we’ll all be able to get our hands on these beers a bit more reliably in the near future. Fingers crossed.