Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sixpoint - Resin Imperial IPA Review

Brewery: Sixpoint (NY)
Style: Imperial IPA

ABV: 9.1%
Grade: B

Sixpoint has made a big impact on the New York beer scene since debuting their lineup in cans last year, and mostly for good reason — they have great branding and a small-but-marketable line-up of unique beers. I've noticed from their social media that they seem extremely reluctant to have their stuff classified by classic styles — and that's cool. Experimentation is far more interesting than tradition, to me. So as a sort of introduction to their newest beer, a totally-no one-has-ever-had-it new-beer called Resin, let's run through some of their current line-up — descriptions are my own, not Sixpoint's.

There's Sweet Action, a cream ale that's hoppier than most cream ales. There's Righteous Rye, a hoppy Rye IPA. There's Crisp, a hoppy lager. There's Autumnation, a super hoppy pumpkin ale (maybe the world's first pumpkin IPA.) There's Diesel, a super hoppy stout. Notice a trend? So let me introduce you to Sixpoint's latest, and it's...

::record scratch sound effect::

... a rich, super-sweet Imperial IPA. As usual, Sixpoint surprises.

Now, I'm sure Sixpoint would recommend not thinking of this as an IPA (or any style) at all, so I'm trying not to. (Hell, their beer cans never even mention a style, opting instead for a vaguely poetic paragraph about the name.) But people like to know what they're getting into, which is why styles exist in the first place, and I'm not sure how to describe this as anything but an overly-sweet, East Coast imperial IPA. It's blasted full of piney hops, and together with the almost-syrupy malts, they really do give the beer a resinous feel. The mouthfeel is a bit sticky — I guess it might be like sucking the juice out of some hop cones, if the hops were coated in caramel.

The sweetness is extremely intense upfront, but to Resin's credit, it mellows considerably as the beer sits in the glass and warms up. Which makes this a hard beer to judge, for me. My first impression was almost disgust — I just can't tolerate overly sweet beers, and this was bordering on candy. But magically, after 10 - 20 minutes, the upfront caramel malts faded into the background, leaving something far more palatable and interesting. The malts are still a bold presence on the backend of the beer, coating your tongue as they go down and leaving a lingering, not-altogether pleasant stickiness. But at that point, they sort of taste like they belong to the hops, the "resiny" character this beer is very obviously going for. At 103 IBUs, there's certainly plenty of bitterness here, a nice well-rounded hop profile.

How you feel about Resin is going to depend largely on how you feel about caramel-sweet beers, and whether you prefer citrusy West Coast IPAs. Because there's nothing West Coast about this beer. I personally have a very, very, very low threshold for sweetness in my beer. While it's true that Resin is quite bitter, too, I can't shake the fact that my mouth feels like it was been coated in sugar after drinking it. And there is a nice depth of flavor here, as one of my friends pointed out. Maybe more than you'd find in many bland by-the-book imperial IPAs. But I'd be able to savor an even greater depth of flavor if my mouth wasn't being simultaneously sugar-bombed, I think.

Availability: Apparently this one is going to be a new addition to the main Sixpoint lineup, not a seasonal release? So that's cool. Comes in unique Red Bull-style 12 ounce cans, in four-packs.

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