The Carefully Considered Evolution of Sixpoint’s Narrow 12oz RESIN Double IPA Can Design

For sometime now I have admired the careful and thoughtful nature with which Shane Welch runs his booming Brooklyn-based brewery, Sixpoint.

Grounded, long-term success in business is seldom an accident. Sixpoint epitomizes that necessary and considered approach. 

Take for example, the time and effort the brewery recently spent deciding upon the perfect presentation for their new canned Double IPA, RESIN.

For one thing, the brewery decided to present the beer in stylish narrow 12oz (355ml, Red Bull sized) cans. The first smaller scale brewery I am aware of, to use these.

Where the package really comes together though, is in the deep thought process behind the eye-catching design itself.

Shane says: Form follows function, but stylistic elements must also follow intent, and in this case the undeniable flaunting character of a double IPA is the hop character.  Hop character comes from hop RESIN, and it is this organic compound that generates the signature flavor compounds of the beer.

Everything else just obfuscates the direct, laser-beam focus and intention here: deliver hop resin into a soluble format; a liquid that has a sensational bitter prickliness without being offensively abrasive.  It sounds easy, right?

The vegetative matter of the hop cones produce the energy for the plant to develop its lupulin glands.  The glands, at the base of the petals, have a brilliant golden color at peak maturity.  They swell up like tiny globules of sap. 

Hence the moss-green RESIN can, with the golden bronze detailing.  Its a hop cone, with the resin inside…

Top Ten Beers of 2011

From Auckland, New Zealand to Aberdeen, Scotland, from London, England to Los Angeles, California, 2011 must go down in history as one of the most exhilarating years for beer in recent memory. While new breweries continued to open at an almost unfathomable pace; especially in the U.S. and U.K., established breweries continued to expand and surprise at every turn. The sheer focus and interest of the wider world on good beer in 2011 was, and continues to be an exciting prospect.

Over the course of 2011 I had the privilege of tasting somewhere in the region of 1300-1400 different beers. Selecting only 10 to highlight as the best I tasted all year might seem like a daunting task. I would argue however, that selecting the best actually becomes easier, the more beers you taste. Taste 5 porters and it’s quite hard to say with any sense of authority which ones truly shine. Taste 30 or 40 porters and the best ones begin to emerge that much brighter.

So I present ten exceptional beers that ignited my senses more than any other in 2011. Ten beers I would happily drink for the rest of my life. Ten beers every beer lover, regardless of personal preferences, is advised to seek out and taste in 2012. 

I will forgoe any lengthy background info on the beers and instead encourage you to research these shining examples of the brewer’s art yourself. 

Links to RateBeer provided to assist your research.

Three Floyds Zombie Dust

Epic Hop Zombie

Dry Dock Bligh’s Barleywine

Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve (2007)

Carnegie Special 175th Anniversary Porter

Crooked Stave Fertile Soil

Cantillon Blåbær Lambik

Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s

Samuel Adams Utopias (2011)

Portsmouth Kate the Great (2011)

The Future of Hoptopia

As some of you might know, I was offered and accepted a book deal just before Christmas. Yes, a book about beer.

Writing about beer over the last two and a half years has become a consuming passion of mine. Receiving an email from an established publisher with an offer to pen and organize my own beer related book came as a truly validating and extremely proud moment for me.

For the past two months I have been (mostly) away from my laptop, smartphone, Twitter, Facebook and email accounts, and have been instead lifting cases and kegs of beer at one of the largest liquor stores in Colorado, for 10 hours a day. I will continue to do this a couple of days of week as I have come to believe that it’s healthy to busy yourself with something other than social media 24/7; something I became very good at while building Hoptopia as a brand. Also, lifting 24 bottles of beer at a time or a 16 gallon keg does wonders for burning-off some of those delicious beer calories we’re all so fond of imbibing in abundance.

So what does this all mean for Hoptopia as we head into 2012?

Being something of a serial entrepreneur, I know when it’s time to move on or make a change to something you have worked really hard on. A couple of months ago it started to really dawn on me that my heart was no longer in writing the heavily formatted and structured beer reviews that had made Hoptopia popular. The more free-flowing, less structured columns I was writing for Denver Off The Wagon were proving way more interesting to me. It was time to make a decision about where to take my beer writing next.

I will be spending the first three months of 2012 hard-at-work writing the aforementioned beer book; more details on that when I am allowed to share them. This, along with my keg and case lifting two days a week will leave me with little time for anything else beer related. Life it seems has provided me with the perfect moment to reposition myself in the beer community, so that’s what I intend to do.

Hoptopia, the website, and mobile apps still prove extremely popular, so I will of course be keeping them alive for people to read. They will however no longer be updated with new beer reviews.

When time allows, I do plan on posting my more simplified Tasting Notes columns on this Blog while writing the book.

Once my final manuscript has been accepted by the publisher, I plan on launching a new, more traditional beer blog. A space where I am free to write about anything and everything I care to, beer-wise. This should coincide perfectly with my planned trip to the U.K. So expect some of the first posts to include my musings about visits to some of the best breweries, pubs and bars in the U.K. today.

To say I am excited about this first book is a dull understatement. I am over-the-moon. 

I want to thank everyone that helped get me to this place. Made it possible. I really appreciate all of the new beer friends I have made over the past three years thanks to Hoptopia. I look forward to making many more friends in the coming decades as I write more broadly about the ever expanding and fascinating World of beer.

Thank you so much for reading Hoptopia and I hope some of you find my first beer book insightful and useful when it is published in October, 2012.

Telegraph Winter Ale and Fantome Magic Ghost; two very good reasons to join The Rare Beer Club before November 15th

This post was paid for by The Rare Beer Club. Any opinions expressed below are my own and have been gleaned by being a paying member of the club prior to this post.

If you’re the kind of beer person that chases hard-to-find and generally exclusive beers; there has never been a better time to join The Rare Beer Club.

In November The Rare Beer Club will ship the strictly limited release Winter Ale by Telegraph Brewing Company of California, a beer inspired by the Mexican Hot Chocolate it is brewed with cinnamon, allspice, and sweet ancho chilies, and Magic Ghost, a mysterious green-hued saison brewed with green tea by Brasserie Fantome of Belgium. Both of these beers are brilliantly suited for building your beer cellar.

I have been a champion of The Rare Beer Club for some time now. I have been consistently impressed with their monthly beer selections, excellent customer service, well packaged deliveries, and the intelligently written beer essays that accompany each of the shipments.

The late, world-renowned and pioneering beer writer Michael Jackson (aka. The Beer Hunter), was heavily involved in the beer selection process for The Rare Beer Club. Some of you might be familiar with the club by its former name, Michael Jackson’s Rare Beer Club.

The kind of beers offered each month, as you will see below, are not in most cases common or otherwise easily available. Some of the selections are club-only bottlings. In 2010 for example, The Rare Beer Club offered Jolly Pumpkin’s excellent Biere de Goord, a saison spiced with kale, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin and green tea. This beer was not distributed and is still very much sought-after.

What beers does The Rare Beer Club offer?

The club specializes in bringing its members limited release, small batch, hard-to-easily obtain or truly exclusive beers from the U.S. and around the world. Beers are in the larger 750ml format. Some are capped. Some are sealed with a cork and a cage.

Many of the beers offered by the club are bottle conditioned, and are of a style suitable for cellaring.

2011 has so far seen the following beers offered to members:

Jolly Pumpkin Lúpulo de Hielo (Sour)

The Bruery 4 Calling Birds (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)

Brouwerij Bavik & BJ’s Brewhouse Camaraderie Ale (Belgian Golden Strong Ale)

Brasserie Dupont Posca Rustica (Belgian Cervoise Gruit Ale)

Brasserie de Cazeau Saison Cazeau (Saison brewed with Elderflower)

Stillwater Artisanal Ales Stateside Saison (Saison)

Cigar City Jose Marti Oak Aged (Imperial Porter)

De Scheldebrouwerij Hop Ruiter (Belgian Strong Pale Ale)

De Proefbrouwerij Broederlijke Liefde (Saison)

Au Baron Cuvée des Jonquilles (Saison)

Jandrain-Jandrenouille V Cense (Saison)

Southampton Public House Cuvée des Fleurs (Saison)

Brouwerij Troch Draeckenier (Tripel)

Uinta Cockeyed Cooper (Bourbon Barrel Barleywine)

Weyerbacher Unfiltered Double Simcoe (Double IPA)

Birra Tenute Collesi Rossa (Double Amber Ale)

Jester King Black Metal (Russian Imperial Stout)

Brouwerij Slaapmutske Triple Nightcap (Tripel)

Grand Teton Imperial Scotch Ale (Wee Heavy)

Kerkom Bink Grand Cru (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)

How do I join The Rare Beer Club?

Membership is simple, flexible and available in three tiers.

Silver membership: 2x bottles each month. 1x bottle of each of the months selections. Cost is $31.95 plus $13.00 S&H per month.

Gold membership: 4x bottles each month. 2x bottes of each of the months selections. Cost is $51.95 plus $15.00 S&H per month.

Platinum membership: 6x bottles each month. 3x bottles of each of the months selections. Cost is $68.95 plus $18.00 S&H per month.

Need to know:

Each month The Rare Beer Club sends its members an email announcing the next month’s beer selections. This is your opportunity to up the number of bottles of the upcoming selections, substitute upcoming selections for bottles from a previous month, or skip the months shipment entirely. 

Like I said, the club is very flexible and you never feel pressured to get beers you have no interest in.

JOIN THE RARE BEER CLUB TODAY - Let them know Hoptopia recommended you!

Growlers

This is a sponsored post paid for by Growler Man.

If you are anything like me, you love beer growlers; and maybe even collect them. Below are just a few of the growlers that line the kitchen cabinets at Hoptopia HQ.

Growlers are practical, decorative and have a wonderful sense of “the old” about them; of historical value, purpose and place.

Hoptopia sponsor the Growler Man is an online store that specializes in selling beautiful glass and earthenware growlers. All are heavy duty, extremely well made and really look the part; the kind of growlers that turn heads and garner compliments when getting a refill at a brewery.

These growlers make brilliant gifts for beer lovers.

Below is a selection of the gorgeous growlers available from Growler Man.

Enter coupon code “hoptopia" at check out for a one-time 10% discount on your growler purchase.

Benjamin Arthur Co. Bail Growlers. The bail edition was designed by Benjamin Arthur artists to recognize the time when brewery patrons first carried their fresh beer home in buckets. A stainless steel band secures a metal wire handle to a wooden top designed for comfortable carrying. $35 each.

Benjamin Arthur Co. Classic and Diamond Edition glass growlers. Additional colors are available. $35 each.

Romanick Pottery growlers. These growlers are high-fired stoneware pottery. Each growler is made on a potter’s wheel and hand signed by the artist. Each logo is carved and colored by hand. The growler logo is a whimsical play on words with the G showing bared teeth as if it were growling. The interior of each growler is coated with a white glaze. All glazes used are lead free and contain no harmful materials. Each growler comes with printed care instructions. Additional designs are available. $125 to $150 each.

Order your own artisanal growler from Growler Man today. Tell Travis, Hoptopia sent you.

Tasting Notes: The Rare Beer Club’s July, August and September 2011 shipments

As the sole writer for Hoptopia I can only dedicate so much time to writing full beer reviews for Hoptopia.com and the mobile apps; not nearly enough time to do justice to the thousands of beers that cross my path in a given year. This conundrum has promoted me to start this new semi-regular column for the Hoptopia Blog to supplement my full reviews.

In Tasting Notes I will be posting a smattering of, well, tasting notes, on any given selection of beers.

For this first Tasting Notes column I sat down and poured the six most recent beer shipments from The Rare Beer Club; the member selections for July, August and September 2011. You can learn more about what The Rare Beer Club offers and how to go about joining here.

Brasserie de Cazeau Saison Cazeau (Belgium, Saison, 5.0% abv.)

This hazy sunshine yellow coloured saison is brewed with elderflowers; a flower that only blossoms for a few weeks in May and June. It has a soft floral aroma, a definite catty smell, with aromatic notes of dry hay and fresh cut grass. In the drink the beer has a pursing yellow citrus bite, with bitter gooseberry and lemon juice flavors. The finish is a hair sour; in that way that some Belgian saisons typically are.

Stillwater Artisanal Ales Stateside Saison (U.S., Saison, 6.8% abv.)

This amber hued American saison has a woolly nose, with sweet aromatic hints of vanilla and freshly sliced summer strawberries. On the palate the beer has an immediately noticeable malty biscuity profile. The body has notes of dried apricot and golden sultanas. The finish is less dry than is typical for the saison style.

Brasserie Dupont Posca Rustica (Belgium, Gruit, 8.0% abv.)

This interesting curio from the esteemed Brasserie Dupont is a beer brewed in the ancient pre-hop gruit style. It is spiced with sweet woodruff, bog myrtle and upwards of 10 other spice and herb adjuncts. It has a rich and layer aroma with notes of dry autumn leaves, fresh redcurrants, Juicy Fruit chewing gum, sweetcorn, and caramel. In the drink the beer is quite sweet, with flavors of brown sugar, toasted pumpkin seed and sour lemon candy. The effervescence is soft and delicate, giving the beer a creamy quality. It’s a classy drink.

Brouwerij Bavik & BJ’s Brewhouse Camaraderie Ale (Belgium/U.S., Tripel, 8.0% abv.)

This blonde sour tripel hybrid is marked by a perfectly sweaty barnyard funk that is undercut by notes of freshly baked bread, tarragon, basil and white grape juice. The drink has a curious garlic note, and a clean acidic grapefruit flavor. The finish is sharp and bitter.

Cigar City Jose Marti French Oak (U.S., Strong Porter, 8.0% abv.)

This export strength porter is a special oaked version of Cigar City’s standard Jose Marti porter. It was aged on fresh oak spirals and was bottled exclusively for The Rare Beer Club. Aromatically the beer is instantly reminiscent of beef extract (Bovril, to my fellow Brits). The smell of earthy ash and salty pork fat can be initially overwhelming. There are subtle hints of butterscotch and vanilla that soften the blow. The finish has a potent black tea like astringency that leaves the palate dry.

De Scheldebrouwerij Hop Ruiter (Belgium, Belgian Strong Pale Ale, 8.0% abv.)

With its pretty notes of musk, elderflower and juniper berry, this liberally dry-hopped Belgian strong pale ale smells like a summer garden in full bloom. On the palate the beer has a sharp bittersweet lemonade character with a botanical lemongrass flavor. The finish is dry, but not overtly so.