Based on its packaging, if you ventured a guess as to where Sixpoint Brewery is located, it probably wouldn’t take you long to come up with Brooklyn, N.Y.
This is hip beer. Sixpoint comes in shiny, skinny, silver cans, the kind you associate more with energy drinks than cream ales. The curvy graphic “S” on the logo wouldn’t be out of place graffitied onto the side of a Red Hook warehouse. More than 21,000 Instagram followers embrace the Sixpoint brand (the company’s slogan is “Beer Is Culture”) and the Brooklyn vibe that comes with it.
Sixpoint’s marketing is intentionally hipster, according to creative director Aaron Ekroth. “I think they say the first sign of being a hipster is vehement denial,” says Ekroth. “We just dig the slim cans. You can stack more in your fridge and in ice buckets, and they’re unique.” The marketing is distinctive, but in the end it’s all about the beer. Sixpoint has four core offerings: Sweet Action, a cream ale, The Crisp, a Pilsner, Bengali, an IPA, and Resin, a double IPA.
At parties, I’ve jealously spied folks clutching Sixpoint cans, and I’ve tried a couple of the beers. A good brewery should be judged by its IPA, so that’s as good a place as any to dive in.
Bengali used to be a different beer, with a slightly different name, Bengali Tiger. That brew was named, says Ekroth, “during a video game battle” for the way the brilliant orange of the beer butted up against its white lacing. The brewery dropped the “tiger” when it tweaked the formula to make the beer cleaner and more hop-forward.
I coax my Bengali out of its pretty can and into a glass. The beer appears more straw-colored than orange, with zero sediment. A melange of mango, passion fruit, and orange (but no pine) hangs above the glass. Bengali tastes more bitter than it smells. But it’s a clean bitter. Stripped. Just your tongue and the hops. Despite the bare mouth feel, it’s packed with flavor, falling between the session IPAs that have become all the rage and the juicy, thick IPAs of Vermont and the West Coast.
“Bengali fits into an important niche for beer drinkers today, who want a ton of hop character in a dry-ish beer they can have more than one of,” says Ekroth. “It’s not a session beer but it’s not imperial. It works in that nice middle ground.”
In other words, a beer for when you don’t want to think too hard, but still want to be cool.
SIXPOINT BENGALI (around $10 for a 6-pack) available at Portside Liquors II, Pembroke, 781-826-8060; and Social Wines, Boston, 617- 268-2974.