1 Milling the grains
Malted cereal grains (primarily barley) form the heart and wsoul of any beer recipe, providing the fermentable sugars needed to produce alcohol. Head brewer Ian McConnell leads us to the shed on Sixpoint's roof to collect the specialty malts (many of which are imported from centuries-old malt houses in England) that will give the porter its dark color and rich flavors. The grains are ground down and then dropped through a chute into a large metal vessel (the mash tun) down on the brewery floor.
2 Making the wort
In the mash tun, the grains are steeped with hot water to slowly convert starches into sugars. Many commercial breweries use machinery to make sure each kernel comes into contact with water, but at Sixpoint it's mixed by hand with a giant wooden paddle that's caked with caramelized sugars from years of use. "This is the way it's been done since the dawn of mankind," says assistant brewer Sean Redmond as he churns the thick mixture. "I wouldn't know what to do with myself otherwise; push a button and go make breakfast?" The resulting sugary liquid---called wort---is then drained and moved to the brew kettle. Sixpoint donates the spent grains to a New Jersey farm for chicken feed.
3 Boiling in the brew kettle
Next, the wort is brought to a boil to sterilize the liquid and evaporate impurities. Hops, beer's seasoning, is added now, and the heat of the water extracts the acids that contribute fragrance, bitterness and flavor. The three American varieties used for the TONY porter---Amarillo, Centennial and Nugget---are all known for their strong aromas, particularly their citrusy and floral tones. Like most of Sixpoint's boldly hopped brews, this one packs a punch, so we're not surprised when founder Shane Welch lowers his head directly into the brew kettle and shouts, "Oh man, this is going to taste awesome!"
Beer isn't beer until it ferments. "We're basically just making flavored water so far," Redmond explains. Once the wort has cooled, it's moved into a stainless-steel tank where yeast is added to feed on the sugars, releasing alcohol as a by-product. The choice of yeast is critical, as different strains produce different flavors. Since starting his brewery in 2004, Welch has been using a yeast he dubbed "007" (he discovered it at an English brewpub, smeared a sample into a bag of dried fruit, then had a lab harvest it back in the States). "This is actually pretty cool, because [Time Out for Porter] is one of the last beers we're brewing with the 007," he says. The yeast will soon be replaced by a new variety.
5 The final product: Time Out for Porter
The story of this beer is really the TONY story distilled into a pint glass. We chose to start with a porter---a dark style that originated in 18th-century England---as a nod to our roots in London, where Tony Elliott founded Time Out in 1968. But to give the brew a bit of NYC attitude, we asked the Sixpoint team to complement the porter's rich malts with some serious stateside hops. The result is a transatlantic delight: At once traditionally English and distinctly American, the hybrid has a grassy aroma and a sharp bitterness balanced by smooth dark-chocolate undertones.