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My first encounter with Sixpoint Craft Ales was on the brewer’s home turf of Brooklyn a few years ago, and I was smitten after the first sip. Those lucky enough to have crossed paths with Sixpoint’s outstanding India pale ale Bengali Tiger, or any of the brewery’s many other fine concoctions, will be thrilled to learn that Sixpoint will be available in D.C. starting next month.
In addition to Bengali Tiger, the brewery’s other core beers will be available in both cans and kegs throughout the District and parts of Maryland starting the second week of September. Among them are Righteous Ale, an India pale ale made with rye, Sweet Action, a balanced cream ale, and The Crisp, a well-hopped lager.
Sixpoint founder and head brewer Shane Welch, who started the brewery in an 800-square-foot garage in a “not very savory neighborhood” in Brooklyn in 2004, promised that D.C. would also see a steady stream of seasonals, one-offs, and special brews from his Mad Scientist series.
According to Welch, Sixpoint is currently distributed in five states in the Northeast, but 90 percent of the beer is sold in the five boroughs of New York City. Despite this “nuclear distribution,” Welch says Sixpoint fans have Legends Limited, a Baltimore-based craft beer importer and distributor, to thank for bringing the brewery down south. He told me:
We are specifically going to D.C. and Maryland because of Erin Tyler [a sales manager for Legends Limited]. She is known as being a really fantastic operator and we had heard rumblings of people who wanted to be able to drink our beer down there. We were already in Philadelphia, so it was a logical next step.”
The “rumblings” included some of Y&H’s aforementioned bootlegging. (In fact, I got a preview four-pack of The Crisp this week via Connecticut Avenue Wines & Spirits.) Welch explains:
They are selling our beer anyway. We figured if that’s happening then we should be the ones who are actually doing the shipping of the product. When people do that there’s no guarantee that the beer’s fresh… The last thing you want is someone’s first impression to be of a beer that was sitting out in room temperature for a month and it’s spoiled.
Welch, who visited D.C., Baltimore, and several cities in between last month, was particularly impressed with the appreciation for craft beer in the area, especially with regard to food:
I don’t think any other city including New York has successfully brought beer and food in hospitality to people better than D.C. It is amazing to have all these places that do beer and food well. Our beers were designed to be that way. Our first six years you could only get Sixpoint on draft. In New York a lot of our beer was bought by restaurants. As result we built relationships with restaurateurs and became known for producing really awesome food pairing-friendly beers.
Welch will be heading to D.C. in mid-September to tell you more about his brewery and beers and why he is bringing them to D.C. According to Tyler from Legends, The Black Squirrel, Meridian Pint, and Pizzeria Paradiso are potential sites for a launch party. Stay tuned, and for a bit more on Sixpoint Craft Ales, check out this episode from BeerNation:
Photo by Tammy Tuck