Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
When Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery announced that they would be making three of their beers available via the 900 plus J. D. Wetherspoon outlets around the UK I was a little skeptical. Why had the one of the hippest craft breweries in the US teamed up with a pub chain that many of us, myself included associate as being stuffy, old-hat and beige?
The connection just didn't click and I couldn't see this partnership working but now that the cans have been available for a few weeks I've come to realise what a smart move this was from both parties. As well as giving Sixpoint a massive amount of exposure in the UK this has also very slightly upped the cool factor of the Wetherspoons chain. The real winner here though, is the consumer as they now have access to three good American beers at a great price. In particular Bengali Tiger is a great American IPA and being available for as low as £1.99 (it's currently on special offer in some pubs) is significantly cheaper than a comparable beer such as Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale which is considerably more expensive at around £4.00 a can.
Time will tell if this union is sustainable, I for one hope it is as surely if there is evidence of demand then Sixpoint will make some of their rarer and more exciting beers available on these shores. Hi-Res, their triple IPA is one of these beers. Right now the only way to guarantee getting hold of this once-annually brewed beer is to head to New York shortly after its release. Building on their Double IPA, Resin, Hi-Res appears to be an absolute monster weighing in at 11.1% ABV and 111 IBUs. This is surely one for the most ardent of hop heads out there.
The slender gold can which to me resembles a can of energy drink opens with a satisfying hiss and the ruby/amber liquid glides into my glass producing a nice finger of off white foam. I'm already getting a lot of fruit cake and alcohol before I've really stuck my nose in but there's definitely a hint of mango as well as a massive whack of pine resin in there.
I have to admit after tasting some great hop forward Triple IPAs with very delicate malt profiles so far this year (Four Horsemen Hopocalypse, Magic Rock UnHuman Cannonball) I was expecting more of the same from this Sixpoint effort but I couldn't have been further from the truth. This was much more like a dry hopped barley wine, similar in fact to Avery Brewing's excellent Hog Heaven or Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA.
I tasted a nice bit of mango juice at the start but this was soon followed by raisins, sultanas and a dry boozy note reminiscent of a good Oloroso sherry. It was only at the finish that the real heft of the hops kicked in with a massive bitter grapefruit and pine resin smack to the chops that was then smoothed out by the warming alcohol.
My experience of Hi-Res was one of a boozy, late night sipper but I can imagine that at its freshest those juicy, resinous hops would be much more pronounced. If stored well this would surely evolve into an even more complex barley wine but you'd be doing those hops a disservice if you did such a thing, if you have some, drink it now.
Huge thanks to Gary & Gill for sending me this can, I owe you both a pint.