For the last year I've been seeing and sampling a new brand of beers on tap -- Sixpoint Craft Ales in Redhook, Brooklyn is turning out enough beer in their 15 barrel system to supply around 400 accounts from Manhattan out to one of my favorite places on Long Island, Bobbique in Patchogue.
Last weekend I made use of Long Island's excellent public transport system to take myself and some friends into Redhook and the Liberty Heights Taproom where our tour was to start.
The taproom and the brewery are on a deserted corner (the corner of Dwight and Van Dyke to be exact) in a quiet part of Redhook. If I didn't glance up at the towering buildings in the distance, I could almost believe that we were standing on a street corner in a tiny town in west Texas.
Inside the Liberty Heights Taproom is a wood topped bar that can seat about twelve people. A six foot high partition divides the taproom into two spaces: the bar area and a narrow dining area with seven or eight picnic-style tables. In the rear of the taproom near the kitchen is a pool table.
We warmed up with a round of pints inside. Fittingly, there are six Sixpoint taps in the taproom. I started with the Brownstone, a malty hopped up brown ale. Favorites at the bar included the Bengali Tiger IPA and the Lady Liberty Pale Ale. After this first round, the brewer came down and said he was switching two of the taps to pour Otis Oatmeal Stout and Apollo Wheat.
We drank pints of Apollo Wheat while on the tour and listening to the brewer, Shane, tell us stories about his dog, Bandit.
The Sixpoint tour was loosely modeled on a "how to make beer" model, but Shane wasn't interested in rattling off facts and figures about brewing and the brewery. It didn't take me long to realize that Shane wasn't in any hurry and he was just there to spend some time talking with people who loved to drink his beer, or would by the time the "tour" was over.
The brewery itself is tiny. It's the same size system used in most brewpubs I've seen. Like I said, we didn't get many facts and figures on this tour. What we did get is a vision of passionate artisanal brewing. So I'm not sure how such a small brewery manages to turn out enough beer to keep New York City and Long Island from getting thirsty, but it sounds like they are working day and night. Some distributors are running out of the beer. But Sixpoint is working on their supply problems and should be expanding the brewery in a new facility in the near future.
My only concern about Sixpoint's beer is that all the beers are pretty cloudy. The Otis Oatmeal Stout was disturbingly turbid the day we visited and not at all like the Otis we had at Bobbique only three weeks before. Now, I expect the Apollo Wheat to be cloudy, but the IPA and the Pale Ale should be relatively clear. As someone who brews beer myself, cloudy beer doesn't bother me; I have my fair share of cloudy beers, but I'm concerned that the drinking public might find the appearance of the beers to be unusual.
The tours are every Saturday at one o'clock, but don't come too early. The Liberty Heights Taproom doesn't open until one o'clock and there's nothing else to do in that neighborhood. Our tour lasted about two hours and we stayed for wings and pizza at the Taproom.
If you just want to visit the Taproom (34 Van Dyke Street), you should check their hours, basically call ahead: (718) 246-8050. They are only open Wednesday through Saturday (at the moment). There's plenty of street parking if you want to drive, but the B77 stops right at the door of the Taproom every 15 minutes. If you are coming from Long Island, ride the railroad to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. There are detailed directions on Sixpoint's web site.