It was one of those days in Miami. The kind of day that you sweat so much there is no way you can ever appear to be showered and proper. Sweat dripping from my forehead and dehydration setting in, I needed to make my way to the local bar. Then, like a mirage in the desert, a new image had appeared inside the bar I spent my Friday afternoons in with friends discussing our weeks, politics, and inevitably beer. The image was a clean wooden tap handle with a star in the middle and a shiny metal cap. Sixpoint had arrived in Miami. Resin. It was "resin-y" (ok, that was an easy description to give), fragrant, packed with flavor, substantial in body, and finished smooth despite the aggressive hop profile. Resin had instantly made its way into my go-to beers list and one of those beers that I always recommend to anyone looking for something "hoppy". After a journey through Sixpoint's varied and experimental portfolio, each beer we had was unique in its own right. Aggressive and delicate when need be - purposeful and creative always. It's just one of those breweries. Heather McReynolds, one of Sixpoint's "Mad Scientist", i.e. brewers, is responsible for Sixpoint's small production and custom account beers. A job she describes as "the best". Not constrained by the production requirements of the flagships allows Heather to push boundaries and connect with places that are truly New York to produce beers that will be sold only at their establishment. We had the opportunity to host Heather at the new MIA Brewing taproom. Here's a little bit about her past, her present, and of course, Sixpoint Brewery. Here's a few of the highlights and a little about one of our favorite breweries and brewers.
Born and raised in Gainesville, FL, Heather led the bar at Stubbies and Steins in Gainesville. A local beer mecca for those of us lucky to have been in Gainesville while the bar was open. Belgian and German offerings and the latest American craft offerings were available at one of 24 tap lines or in one of over 400 bottles offered at any given time. It was here where her love for beer began to blossom and where she gained the preliminary knowledge of style and technique required to soon lead operations at Cannon Brewpub (unbeknownst to her at the time) in Columbus, Georgia.
Heather impressed me (not only because we're both Gainesville born Gators), but because of her relatively quick rise in brewing, her humble attitude and approach to her craft, and her presence. Soft spoken and petite, but when she speaks you listen. She tackled questions with force and grace - direct and to the point. You instantly understand why she's been able to make waves and find herself not only a "brewster" but an ambassador (and a fantastic one) for a brand with such widespread recognition and admiration as Sixpoint. We recalled the moment she realized the impact of being brought into Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood to brew at Sixpoint and Heather told us with a smile about the first time she saw her beer at the empire state building. An icon of American architecture, a symbol of New York, and a symbol of hard work and dedication paying off.
She's also a proud ambassador for the Pink Boots Society (pinkbootssociety.org) which focuses on promoting women in the male-dominated craft beer industry. Yet, while the industry still remains dominated by men, Heather and others like her are proving to the world that gender plays absolutely no role in brewing. And, why should it? We're proud to support the Pink Boots Society and what they represent.
Sixpoint Brewery. Located in the rapidly evolving Brooklyn, New York, since 2004, has become a cultural staple of the area. Just like the neighborhood itself, Sixpoint represents the diversity and evolving spirit of Brooklyn - and they pride themselves on it. Heather arrived at Sixpoint just before one of the brewery's largest challenges - Hurricane Sandy. In October of 2012, Sandy flooded Brooklyn, and along with this destruction came the destruction of business in the area. Luckily for Sixpoint, brewing equipment is made to get wet! Fermenting beer stayed relatively protected and continued on its way to finding its way in to a signature Sixpoint can. Still, the storm affected their production for some time while pumps and other equipment had to be replaced. For a great visual representation of just what impact Sandy had on the brewery, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKLRG-eMXgM . The brewery got to work, cleaned up, and released 3 Beans around this time - a collaboration with a local coffee roaster and chocolate maker. A collaboration that symbolized more than some local companies doing something cool together, but given the circumstances, it was a symbol that Brooklyn was not to be messed with, that the people and businesses which make it up are resilient and ready to take on whatever challenges come their way. Sixpoint told the world - "we're here to stay".
Going forward, Sixpoint will continue to deal with their biggest challenge: space. As Heather discussed, the brewery at MIA, which looks to be the size of a Costco wholesaler, is just something that a Brooklyn brewery could never have. At the end of the day, space, not demand, is what holds Sixpoint back from getting into more markets. While distribution has expanded across the country, and more states will soon be receiving these wonderful beers, space is an issue. An issue that is difficult to work around. Yet, as Sixpoint has shown, no challenge is too great to defeat. Creativity and an emphasis on pushing boundaries defines the brewery, and Heather is an embodiment of these characteristics that are so crucial to continued growth of the industry. Thank you Sixpoint for leading by example. Thank you Heather for joining us.
Thank you to Cesar Vazquez (Sixpoint brand ambassador for South Florida) for helping get this event together, to MIA Brewing for hosting and pouring your fantastic beers, to all of the fans of this site who showed up and participated in the conversation - you guys mean the world to us, and to our photographer Felipe (@fp_g) for taking the photos in this story. Again, thanks to Sixpoint and Heather for joining us - it was an honor!