From supermarket shelfies to small batch treats – Sixpoint Brewery is making some big changes.
Sixpoint Brewery, based out of Brooklyn, is a name most people have heard. With a distribution that reaches several countries, you don’t have to look past most local supermarkets to find their beers. In fact, plenty of people don’t realize or remember that they are, in fact, a craft brewery! Given their proximity to big names like Other Half and Folksbier, they are largely dismissed as “beers you can get anywhere.” In the past year, however, they’ve implemented some big changes, and are taking a much-welcomed step into the future.
Bachli pours out a sample of the (then) in-progress Yuzu Jammer.
In August of last year Sixpoint brought on Eric Bachli, previous head brewer at Trillium Brewing in Massachusetts, as Chief Product Officer. Since Trillium is one of the juggernauts of the East Coast craft beer scene, craft beer fans might scratch their head at this seemingly backwards move. Bachli, however, believes the situation is quite the opposite. At Sixpoint, there hadn’t been a lot of effort to appeal to the small batch market. Bachli felt this was a great opportunity to work his creative muscles and help both Sixpoint and himself grow. Since bringing him on, the brewery has put out over ten delicious small batches, using their klout with local stores, bars and supermarkets as a way to get the word out about their new direction. Pales, IPAs, sours and stouts have since caught the attention of local craft beer fans, and many attribute this to Bachli.
Sixpoint release parties are always a fun time!
The other big change of note, likely influenced by the first, is the new small batch release system Sixpoint has adopted. Instead of waiting on a line to purchase beer, Sixpoint will put their latest set of beers to be pre-ordered on a new mobile app. Users can purchase what they want on Monday, and then show up Saturday morning for a post-release party, rather than a pre-release line. You show up, scan the barcode with your order information from the app, and get the beer. This small tweak ends up completely altering the release experience. Customers hang out and chat with the brewers, staff, and – of course – each other over glasses of popular beers and unreleased pilot batches. Instead of the worn down energy that permeates the atmosphere at an early morning Other Half line, the mood at Sixpoint is much more relaxed and friendly.
The small batch release parties are also a great opportunity for some experimentation. At the most recent release, Sixpoint brewed three variants of their base Gose called Jammer. To celebrate this, they named the release date “Jammer Day,” and had all sorts of cool things to try. There was a station with a variety of flavored salts and fruit syrups, allowing customers to change the base Jammer into their own summer-y concoction. The staff also uses these releases to share info (and sometimes tastes) of what they’re working on, and get advanced feedback. At this past release they threw two variants of their popular Hootie Pale Ale up for people to taste. I’m hoping to see these variants reappear in the future!
A variety of flavored salts make for some interesting beer cocktails!
These changes have done a lot to convince people that Sixpoint is not to be hidden behind the hype of its neighbors, but they’re not done yet! While these two changes are bringing Sixpoint into the spotlight, they are still held back by the lack of a physical taproom. Their small batch releases are always held in the courtyard, rain or shine, but if you want to visit the brewery outside of release parties, you’re out of luck. Plans to build out the currently decrepit taproom next door are in motion, although not as fast as some would like. Hopefully by this time next year, we’ll all be drinking out of the comfort of their new space. In my discussions with Bachli, he brought up how the whole team at Sixpoint is dead-set on keeping their Red Hook location as a home base, the destination for those looking to try their beers and the lab where new beers are created.
If you’d like to know more about what Sixpoint has been up to lately, feel free to check out episode 16 of Hop Talk where we talk and drink the recent Jammer release with the people at Sixpoint. If you’re planning on going to the release this weekend, come and say hi – you know I’ll be there! If not, you should definitely consider seeing what the new Sixpoint is all about.