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A Tale of Two Brewers: Mellody Brewing and Sixpoint

2 February 2012

It is a cold morning in Brooklyn, and “rainy” is an understatement.  I stand outside of the Sixpoint Craft Ales brewery with Sean Mellody, the one-man show behind Mellody Brewing, the two of us huddled under a neighboring building’s awning waiting for someone to answer the door.  The outside of the building is unremarkable; unless you knew the Sixpoint star logo, or had ventured about the corner and read the sign that says “freight loading for Sixpoint Craft Ales around the corner,” you would have no idea this was the site of a brewery quickly gaining popularity around the country.

Even though we know there is a brewery and are here, in fact, to brew with Sixpoint, I begin to doubt that there is anyone home as we stand in the rain. Soon enough, though, the door is opened and we are welcomed in to a small uncovered courtyard.  The walls are covered in various murals and there are chairs and tables scattered about, even though there is no tasting room, taphouse or souvenir shop at this facility; the only thing that goes on within these walls is the brewing of beer.

We are welcomed into the brewery by assistant brewer Sean Redmond, who leads us down a small, packed hallway into an open room stuffed with fermentation tanks.  Off to the side, we walk through another doorway into a smaller room, what might be loosely referred to as an office, which houses an experimental brewing system for small batches.  This is the set-up that Sean will be guiding us through today so we can make a 25-gallon batch of Mellody’s molasses porter.

The porter, as with all the collaborative beers Sixpoint has been doing for the past weeks—and will continue to do for weeks to come—will be for Sixpoint’s second-annual Beer for Beasts event.  The festival, held jointly with Beer Advocate, is a charity event that will showcase the collaborative brews, culinary treats from New York food trucks and live entertainment.  All the proceeds benefit the New York Humane Society for the better treatment of animals.  Last year’s event raised nearly $30,000 for our furry friends, and the cause could not be closer to Mellody’s heart. “I’m a dog lover,” he says. “To be able to play a small part in this fundraiser means a lot to me, and to Barley the Brew Dog as well.”

After the two Seans look over the beer recipe—tweaked slightly by head-brewer Ian—and as we wait for our strike water to heat, Sean leads us back out through the courtyard and the still-driving rain to an upstairs deck atop the brewery.  Here we find the grain room, where Mellody is given the hands-on experience of weighing and milling the grains for his beer.  When that was done, it is back through the rain and wind and into the relative dryness of the brewery.

We mash in our grains—Mellody stirring as I shovel—and then, as they steep, have a little time to walk to a local grocery store to get some breakfast and cure the raging hangovers we have from enjoying our time in Manhattan a little too much the previous night.  By this time, the sky has cleared and, aside from a little wind, has turned into a pretty nice day.  We get our cures: juice, water, and egg and bacon sandwiches.  We are running on three hours of sleep and twice as many hours of drinking the night before and do not appear in as professional a manner as we should.  Luckily, we are dealing with people who make beer as a profession and they don’t seem to mind.

We return to the brewery to find the next brewers, James and Brady, two gentlemen from Washington D.C., waiting for their turn to brew a sumac witbier. We are underway immediately so as not to keep them too long, and Sean transfers the wort to the boil kettle as Mellody and I sit by and watch.  The wort comes in a beautiful dark brown, almost black.  The rest of the brewing goes by smoothly and, as we wait for the boil, we are treated to some brewery experimentations, which include a cranberry porter and a smoked Belgian ale, as well as the brewery’s new Berliner weisse, straight from the fermenter.

At the end of the boil, we pour in two pounds of black strap molasses and transfer to fermentation.  Mellody and I take turns pouring in yeast as a true collaborative effort, and he is able to show off his East Coast Yeast ECY10 Newark strain, which the brewers have never heard of and seem quite impressed with.

As the brew day ends, we bid farewell to Sean and our fellow collaborators, who end up helping out in a major way.  Mellody hasn’t yet named his porter, and neither of us seem able to come up with anything.  Until, that is, Brady suggests the name that would stick: Motown Philly Molasses Porter. The name is apropos, from a song about a group of guys from Philly and their rise to stardom.  And while I don’t have any illusions about it, Mellody is certainly destined to popularity.

The day ends with a slow ride back into Manhattan and a lunch at Rattle N’ Hum Bar before we get on the train back to Philadelphia.  Despite the excess of the night previous, we’ve had a great time and were provided with memories we will carry forever.  Much of this is due to Mellody, who was kind enough to include me in his day to shine.  Even though I was there only to take pictures and write about it, he made sure I was able to take part in the brewing process.  But, that’s the kind of guy he is, and that’s why the tagline for his brewery, “Real Ales, Real Memories” is as true to the brewer as it is to the beer.

To learn more about Beer 4 Beasts, and to get tickets, please visit http://beerforbeasts.com/.

Nominated for the Epikur Writer of the Year Award.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 2 February 2012 1:35 pm

    This is a great piece. Glad you were there to record the day’s events. When Mellody Beer is in every store on the East Coast, you’ll be able say you helped make one of the first batches.

  2. 4 February 2012 2:49 pm

    Cool post! I enjoyed reading it.

  3. 29 February 2012 11:51 am

    Just stumbled across this article. T’was good meeting you guys and we’re looking forward to tasting yours at the afternoon session. Cheers!

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