Shane Welch of Sixpoint Craft Ales has quite a bit to be excited about. They've got a spicy pumpkin beer for fall, a new series of experimental beers, and also an upcoming line of Sixpoint lagers! We checked in with Shane to get the scoop.
I had a chance to check out the roof garden at your brewery earlier this year. Are you using any of the garden plants in your beers?
There are some herbs from the roof garden that have made their way into our beers! But since it is a very small garden, we can only use them on our pilot beers for now. Maybe one day we can have a whole farm in Brooklyn, and we could use all of the ingredients! Wouldn't that be awesome?
Yes! Sixpoint Farms! Hey, can you tell us a bit about your Pumpkin Brewster?
The Pumpkin beer was a cooperative effort among our entire brewing team. We decided we did not want to make a traditional pumpkin beer—We are Sixpoint, after all—and rather, come up with a unique flavor profile all our own. We approached the recipe formulation in an unconventional manner. We procured some fresh ginger root, and grated it directly into the boiling wort. We also freshly ground white pepper and added that during the last 15 minutes of the boil. As an added touch during active, primary fermentation, a little bit of honey is added. Combine that with the pumpkin, and you have a unique and delicious pumpkin ale.
Did you use purée? Or start with whole pumpkins?
We did two different permutations! As a brewer's experiment, we asked our fans what they'd rather have: canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin. Surprisingly, people wanted both, so we decided to brew two different varieties—one with canned, and one with fresh, but kept the rest of the recipe exactly the same. Personally, my heart is with the fresh, but we'll see how it does in a blind tasting.
Can you fill us in on the upcoming Mad Scientist Series?
It's our most exciting project to date! Every two months we are going to be releasing a brand new creation, with a style and recipe formulation unique all its own. Our first beer in the series is going to be totally unclassified in terms of style—as a matter of fact, I don't think anyone has ever really done something like it. With every installment in the Mad Scientists series, we will include a personal note from one of our brewers, along with a narrative and pictures chronicling the development and progress of the beer. This will all be integrated into a new platform on our website and social media, so that our fans and customers can check our updates.
Will the Mad Scientist series be released in bottles? On tap? How do your fans go about getting those beers?
No, one of the most special things about the series is that it is draft only. So only accounts that have pre-ordered the limited Mad Scientists Series will be able to serve it. Also, we are going to be kegging it exclusively in sixtels and allocating the batch, so that no one can horde the entire supply. The best way to taste these beer is to see which accounts will be pouring the beer, which we will announce upon release. Being draft-only is a good thing: it persuades you enjoy the beer in a social environment, and usually with friends!
Cheers to that! Can you tell us what the first beer will be, and what inspired the recipe?
The first beer will be a Spelt Wine, which we are confident will be incredibly unique and tasty. We are approaching the recipe in a very non-conventional way, and are building the flavor profile as if we were engineering a bridge. We were discussing styles of beer to make, and this idea was thrown into the ring. Then we started talking about the recipe approach, and after about 15 minutes of conversation, the beer started to take form...it took us a while to procure all of the right ingredients, including the yeast, but now we are ready to rock it out!
We're hearing murmurs about new Sixpoint lagers. Why this new direction?
Because lager beers are awesome, and they deserve the respect that ales get in the craft community. Since they clearly are not receiving that respect right now, we aim to change that. We won't be as prolific with the Crisp Lagers portfolio (we've already made over 80 craft ales to date), but plan on us releasing a second lager sometime next year.
What's the first beer in the lager series?
The first beer we released was "Sehr Crisp." It's loosely based upon the Pilsner style, but of course, with an extra Sixpoint added twist. There's a secret ingredient in there...For the second beer, we are going to be releasing another unique recipe, most likely something a bit darker, and will probably hit the streets sometime in 2011. I'm still working on the recipe at the moment, but it's coming along nicely.
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A Pint With: Shane Welch