Brooklyn manages to fulfill many of my young adult fantasies: bars open at every hour, crazy rave parties when a bar isn’t pushing the boundaries enough, and people of all ages in outfits that look like they belong at rave parties roving the streets day and night. But one aspect of this party-fueled equation doesn’t quite deliver, and that is its breweries. Smaller towns like Philadelphia and Portland have a much greater selection of innovative local breweries, so imagine my surprise to learn that for a while Brooklyn produced 10% of all US beers, most of which were brewed right here in Bushwick – say what?? Yes, once upon a time, many breweries called Bushwick their headquarters, including Trommer’s, F&M Schaefer, Piels, Liebman, Ehrets, Goldenrod, Old Dutch, Charles Schafer, and Schlitz! That’s a far cry from the current state of affairs, with an abundant selection of imports but few local producers. But while we anxiously await for this problem to be remedied, Sixpoint Brewery (located in Red Hook in South Brooklyn) is hard at work keeping Brooklyn’s beer legacy alive, and Anchored Inn here in Bushwick is helping them out by serving my favorite of their beers on tap: Sixpoint Righteous Ale.
The Righteous Ale is a rye ale, which means this week we’re back to talking malt. The malt (the sugars extracted from grains that produce body, sweetness and alcohol in the beer) used in rye beers is derived at least in part from rye, instead of the more mild barley, giving the beer’s sweetness and body an edge. Rye is a tough grain, used in the diets of Northern and Central Europe, where it can withstand the elements that lay waste to softer grains. It’s the key to rye bread’s distinctive flavor. I’m not a rye bread fan myself, but I like my beers to have a little oomph and rye beers have just that – a bready, bitter bite.
In the Sixpoint Righteous Ale the rye maltiness finds its balance with some nice citrusy hoppiness, but really the malt is the key player here. It pours a deep copper-amber, although the head on my glass was rather tragic. For this I blame the glassware; Anchored Inn uses the standard pint glasses found in most bars. These deprive a beer of its full head potential and quickly deplete the aroma and flavor, but I’ll save that rant for another column. At 6.3% alcohol it’ll leave you feeling good but not too loopy after a pint or two.
By far my favorite story in our neighborhood’s brewing history is that of Trommer’s Beer Strike of 1949 (tonight I will dream of the days when our ‘hood had enough breweries for their members to actually organize a strike). During the strike, dissatisfied workers at Trommer kept brewery managers from entering the site for so long that when they were finally able to get back to work they found that all of their specific yeast strain had died. As you may or may not know, yeast is the living magician of beer that makes all the other ingredients come together as they should. Without it’s magic yeast – apparently the replacement they used following the strike just didn’t cut it with the locals – Trommer Brewery was dead within two years. And now I find myself driven to use this column as an entirely selfish soapbox to issue this plea: With Bushwick’s plethora of DIY establishments and homebrewers concocting beers on jerry-rigged stoves in their tiny apartments, it is time we earn back our legacy and get a proper brewery operating on Bushwick soil again! Any takers, let me know. You’ll surely be the subject of many future columns.
Sixpoint Righteous Rye gets 4/5 stars – 1 for its local conception, 1 for the distinctive rye oomph, 1 for hops that balance maltiness without overshadowing, and 1 for epitomizing everything a rye ale should be.
The Anchored Inn is located at 57 Waterbury St, and is open from 12pm – 4am daily. A glass of Righteous Rye goes for $6 standardly, but hit them up between 5pm and 8pm daily to score draft pours for only $4.
Bushwick Brews is a weekly column dedicated to the exploration of Bushwick’s finest beers written and curated by brewista Erin Wicks.