A Pint with Sixpoint Brewer Keir Hamilton
January 30th 2017 | From Union
Sixpoint Brewer Keir Hamilton talks about getting his start in craft beer, what's new at Sixpoint, his thoughts on the NYC craft beer scene and more!
How did you get your start in craft brewing?
I got my start by my knocking on the front door of Sixpoint and asked if they needed any help. I was lucky enough that they said 'yes'. I started by washing kegs and when there were no kegs to be washed, I helped with other duties. I had a background in distilling so I knew a lot of the basics, but was eager to learn more. Eventually they took me on full time and trained me up and sent me to brewing school. I will be forever grateful to Sixpoint.
You started at Sixpoint almost 3 years ago. What changes have you noticed in the industry since then?
I think the biggest change has been the number of breweries. NYC alone has doubled if not tripled in the number of craft breweries. Although space on shelves and lines in bars are hard to come by, I believe the more craft brews out their, the harder everyone will work to prove themselves to the consumers and cement their place in the NYC beer scene.
Sixpoint just re-released Hi-Res, a hop-packed Triple IPA. What’s the inspiration that led to it?
Hops, Hops and Hops! Hi-Res is an awesome beer to make. It really lets us, the brewers, explore what we can get from the simple hop cone. We packed in the hops from choice lots all over the pacific northwest and dialed it in. You have to be careful when trying to achieve a higher alcohol content though, balance is key here. The malt has to be in tune with the hops to achieve the right equilibrium in flavour and aroma. You can't have the malt win with its sweetness and the bitter bombs of past are, well, in the past.
If you could brew and release any style of beer of your choosing right now, what would it be?
After my recent trip to Belgium, I am all about the yeast character right now. Pitching that Abbey strain and letting the temperature ramp up to release all the esters. I am a big fan of Dubbels & Quads. Stay tuned, we may something sitting in American Port barrels for you soon.
What are your thoughts on the New York City craft beer scene? What’s your current NYC craft beer Sixer?
The NYC beer scene is really awesome at the moment and its only getting better. Higher quality beers are being released by everyone, LIC Beer Project, Transmitter to name a couple. Of course we are being backed up by some great bars with really knowledgable staff who know what are beers are all about and can help find their customers the perfect pint. The Owl Farm and St. Gambrinus are my Friday night and Saturday afternoon haunts.
NYC sixers are hard to find these days, its all about 4pks of 16oz cans! Finback and their Oscillation series can do no wrong for me at the moment.
What’s your go-to beer?
I am a man of many tastebuds, so I like to vary what fills my cup, but... I will always fall back on Allagash white.
Where do you see Sixpoint, as well as the craft beer industry, in 3 years?
I feel Sixpoint will be striving for what we set out for on day one, that perfect formulation! Our brew team at Sixpoint will always keep tweaking our beers and through many pilot batches we learn what we can improve on and how to bring that to our customers. The craft beer industry is going to get a lot more competitive in the future. Higher quality ingredients, better trained brewers, I still feel people think I am some sort of glorified home brewer when I tell them what I do. Yo, we are for reals!
What’s your favorite part of the brewing process?
Honestly, it's when I come the next day after brewing and see the blow-off bucket bubbling away, letting me know that fermentation is taking place and the yeast are hard at work. "Great Scott! it actually worked!" haha!
Any tips for aspiring craft brewers out there?
Get down to your local brewery and help out. Put in the unpaid time and when a job opportunity arises, it's not what you know, it's who you know!
What styles/ingredients are you currently experimenting with?
We are going to be bringing out a Kolsch and a Zwikel for New York City Beer Week, which takes place in the last week of February. I am really looking forward to that. It's a chance for all the brewers to get together and sample each others wears at different festival across the city.
Could you give us a hint of what to expect from Sixpoint in the near future?
Arghhh. We are all working so hard at the moment with a lot of new projects on the horizon, but I am pretty sure I'll get in a lot of trouble if I leaked any hints!