Continuous Brand Evolution is Paramount for Sixpoint Brewery

Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery launched a new look and new tastes to old names in May 2017. The brewery said it has improved ingredient sourcing, tweaked recipes to reflect changing palates and packaging its beers unfiltered.

“You should never wait until things are bad to start thinking about the next evolution,” Michael Lenane said of the brewery that leapt into the Top 50 in 2016 as the 43rd largest brewery by volume, producing nearly 75,000 barrels, up 20 percent from 2015. “Sales of our core are as strong as ever, all through organic growth. We decided internally to make updates to our formulations … and reflect those changes by cleaning up some embellishments and focusing on the important stuff.”

That means both Canned On and Best By dates have been added to cans, and the brewery made a clear opening on the bottom of the package to let both be known.

“It’s nice to have a demarcation, so people know to look for changes,” Lenane said. “We’ve dedicated our team to a huge premium on freshness, and we now show both the canned on and best by date on the can. A ‘freshness window’ on the bottom of the can shows it off.”

So what does Lenane expect the consumer response to be?

“They’re going to go crazy for this shit,” he said.

Lenane dug into the reformulation of many of the beers for Sixpoint, many happened to incorporate new ingredients, accommodate the brewery’s and consumers’ changing palates, and because of some new processes that the brewery is now comfortable with.

“The DNA of Sixpoint is formulation; that’s the core of the whole thing,” Lenane said. “Brewing to us is an incremental process… we want every batch to be better than the previous one. We analyze every beer through a rigorous lens, but not with the idea that we’ve already hit our target and are trying to recreate it, but rather that there are new heights still to be achieved. This isn’t necessarily standard in the brewing industry.”

Lenane noted that even within this constant updating and tweaking, there are times to make larger leaps forward, pointing out that shifts were made in 2014 with some formulation overhauls, moving to a new facility and updating the packaging.

“We’re making an even bigger one now,” he said.

Sixpoint has begun a full integration of direct farm sourced hops, and over half of its hops now come directly from farms.

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“This is awesome for a bunch of reasons, but namely we get access to new strains, select better plots of cones, and can collaborate on harvest times to favor certain characteristics,” Lenane said.

All of the brewery’s ales are now unfiltered.

“They’re centrifuged, and won’t be cloudy, but we’re getting that raw character out there,” he said.

For specifics, let’s go beer by beer, with all information directly from Lenane:

“The Crisp is the same recipe — the improvement comes from the raw materials. Over the last three years we’ve worked with German farmers to improve the quality of our noble hops, and officially with this latest brew we’re going 100 percent straight to farmers for the noble hops in The Crisp. This is especially important with German hops, since German brewers usually grab all the best cones over there. American brewers are left with the shake at the bottom of the bag. The seeds and stems. The schwag. When you crack The Crisp, floral aroma comes blasting out; that’s the difference.

“The Sweet Action recipe has changed the most. We cut down on the Maris Otter and Caramel malts for a cleaner beer. We’re also incorporating Huell Melon hops from Germany, a totally unique and awesome strain. This stuff didn’t even exist until a couple years ago… why wouldn’t we update the recipe? We also use Simcoe, which is known for it’s dank and sometimes onion-y characteristics… but since we work direct with farms we harvest this stuff early, when it tastes peachy. It’s awesome. We now officially classify Sweet Action as a blonde ale, but it has a bunch of wheat and a big, juicy, hop aroma.

“For Bengali we’ve also cut down on Caramel malt for a cleaner drinking beer, and the unfiltered nature brings the tropical aroma out like crazy. We’re also integrating Mandarina Bavaria, another awesome new hop strain, for even more “juice.”

“Resin benefits the most from being unfiltered. The aroma flying out of this stuff is incredible now. Other than that the recipe is largely the same.”

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