Reposted from my blog: Malted Musings.
Last Tuesday Eli Cannon's Tap Room in Middletown, Connecticut held their first ever "Tap Flash Mob." In one night all the draughts were changed to twenty beers from four different breweries whose distributions were just launched in CT. Said breweries were Atwater, Sixpoint, Clown Shoes, and Green Flash.
|One group of taps, out of three. Courtesy: Jere Adametz|
Sixpoint Brewery is out of Brookyln, New York, and I ended up talking to the brand rep later. Atwater Brewery is out of Detroit. They formed in 1997 and use a brewing process that dates back 200 years. Clown Shoes is out of Massachusetts and also just recently expanded into Connecticut. Green Flash Brewing Company is out of San Diego, California. They were founded in 2002, and focus on making hybrid, stand alone beers that buck tradition and create names for themselves. Although there were four brewery's beers on tap the only
representative on hand that I could find was Adam Lang, the area sales rep for Sixpoint Brewery. Stepping outside from the madness at the bar, Lang filled me in on some history of Sixpoint.
Sixpoint Brewery is out of Red Hook (in Brooklyn) New York, and they started in 2004. Their brewer, Shane Welsh, was originally from Wisconisn, but decided to launch his line in NYC because of the vast market available, many of whom have great taste in beer. They first had a focus on the middle range of beer: not aiming to make cheap "lawnmower beer," or trying to make the next top of the line Belgian-style beer. Rather, they want to brew a solid craft beer that can be enjoyed by many and not have too daunting of a price point. A fairly young brewery, Sixpoint was draft-only until a year ago.
|Lang and I, looking rather pleased with ourselves. Courtesy: Jere Adametz|
After expanding to can and ship beer, they now cater to NYC, Boston, Philly, and (obviously) Connecticut. They launched in CT a week ago, helping to fulfill CT's demand for good beer, says Lang. CT has very tough laws on the books that keep many craft breweries from coming in, but those laws are changing slowly but surely (as can be seen with the Sunday sales law that just
passed). Though it's tough to distribute in CT, Lang says that it is worth the effort and Sixpoint is looking forward to spreading good beer through CT. According to Lang beer is a growing business. It's not about many small businesses fighting, but rather it's about many different components working to grow the industry together: catering to everyone's tastes.
|The packed bar. Courtesy: Jere Adametz|
As of now Sixpoint only puts out cans and has beer on draught. Cans decrease packaging size and thus save lots of money on shipping costs. They are building a beer tasting room in Brooklyn soon and are very excited to open their brewery to the community, and become more involved in the social framework of their surroundings. This community involvement is what makes Sixpoint special, says Lang; their focus is on the culture, as well as the quality of beer itself. Lang says that's there's lot's of good beer out there so it thereby needs to have more than just good taste: it's essential that beer create good stories behind the beverage.
|The flight. Courtesy: Jere Adametz|
Mirroring Sixpoint's philosophy of creating good beer culture: this flash tap takeover ensured an event that would get people excited and talking. The mastermind behind this ambitious event was J.D. Crandall, the bar manager at Eli Cannon's. Crandall is not just charged with keeping the bar stocked, but also with scheduling the Tuesday Night Tastings, organizing larger events (like this one), and communicating with different brand representatives. Crandall has worked at Eli Cannon's since 2004. He took a brief break to try corporate life and, when it was clear that the shirt & tie world wasn't for him, Crandall returned to Eli Cannon's to bring his beer expertise to tailoring great beer events, and maintaining the famous Eli Cannon's beer list.
|Crandall manning the taps. Courtesy: Jere Adametz|
As Crandall puts it, the event was his idea (as it kind of fell into the realm of just ordering the stuff), but he wanted to go bigger and crazier with it, and for that he received strong support from the staff, management, and ownership of Eli Cannon's. As this was Crandall's first planned event that wasn't an established tradition, he wanted to make it big and special. Says Crandall, "At Eli's, we pride ourselves on being the first, the best, and the most innovative in the craft beer community. (. . .) Rather than working the different beers
into our regular line up, I decided that we would tap them all at the same time
thereby making Eli's not just the place you got it first but the place you got
it all first."
|The cool-looking flyer. Courtesy: Jere Adametz|
People really did get it all first too, with over 20 beers available on the night of the tap takeover and flights available to try the flagships from every brand. To market the event Crandall decided to go a slightly off-kilter route. As flash mops are typically hyped up on social media, Crandall wanted to make the tap flash mob follow the same format. On the days leading up to the event, Crandall delighted the Eli Cannon's Twitter and Facebook followers with a great "viral marketing" style video (which can be seen here), as well as cryptic pictures that, when eventually brought into focus, revealed the names of the four breweries that would be represented. This got lots of praise from the social media base, so Crandall assures me that there will be more of this unique brand of marketing in the future. As for the event, the turnout was huge, people were happy, and even the staff was very excited for the event and this, as Crandall says, "(is) really all you can ask for with something like this."
|The festivities went well into the night. Courtesy: Jere Adametz|
As there were too many beers to sample each and everyone, I decided to have a go at every brewery's flagship. The first one was Green Flash's Hop Head Red. This beer poured out a deep, brown red with a slight head on top, smelling mildly sweet and distantly hoppy. At first sip the beer pulls a bit bitter, which then moves to a rich dark chocolate bitterweetness. This lingers and then finishes mild with a hoppy aftertaste to close out the bittersweet profile. This was a medium beer, had robust bitter hopping, and was tempered throughout with a bittersweet denseness that lingered out on the back end.
|Hop Head Red and Bengali Tiger. Courtesy: Me.|
The next flagship was the Sixpoint Bengali Tiger. This beer was a translucent, deep copper/amber tone with a bright head on top. It was very hard to find a nose on this one, but I could detect some distant sweetness. This beer was initially warm and bright with a smoothness that held a light/medium sweetness. This sweet taste throughout held a light maltiness that then gives way mild slightly bitter hopping. The aftertaste is dry, hoppy, and slightly sweet that terminates quickly. This is a medium, slightly hoppy IPA with a nice, rich, dry sweetness.
Next up was the Clown Shoes Clementine. This poured out an opaque yellow/gold and smelled sweet and malty with a wheaty tone in the sweetness. The initial taste is very bright with wheaty malting that moves to bright Belgian spicing. This spiciness lingers and then fades out with a smooth malty/spicy pull. This beer is light to medium, slightly spicy and very smooth and bright. This is an exceptionally drinkable beer, and one that I could see enjoying several of this summer.
|Clementine and Dirty Blonde Ale. Courtesy: Me.|
The last in my flagship tasting was the Atwater Dirty Blonde Ale. Pouring out a transparent, pale gold (more pale than even the Clementine), this ale held little to no detectable nose. At first sip this beer is very smooth and neutral (with slight sweet malting), but gives way to citrusy (grapefruit) tones and a rich grain sweetness. The flavor moves to a quick finish from here, and ends up with a smooth, light malty sweetness. This is a light, sweet, and vaguely malty beer that pulls easy and is another prospect for great summer drinking.
Crandall is currently working on putting together the annual Beer Gods Week (which was great last year) which will be held from August 6th through the 10th. It will be five crazy nights of eccentric events that will showcase an array of craft beers. Besides this, Crandall also is working on a few more events, which he is keeping under wraps until he is ready to share them. For more pictures on the event check out Jere Adametz's Flickr page. Add Eli Cannon's on Facebook or Twitter to keep current with whatever madness they are brewing up over there. Also, be sure to check out the four craft breweries that just launched in CT at your local package store: Sixpoint, Atwater, Clown Shoes, and Green Flash. Finally, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger for all your CT craft beer coverage!