Dogfish Head Sixty-One IPA Review: Hop Into Summer

Dogfish Head is an interesting company with a weird name. Founded in 1995 in Milton, Delaware by Sam Calagione, the company has grown quickly and exponentially, becoming a major producer of beer in the US. Dogfish Head — like many US brewers these days — claims to produce extreme and experimental beers, and for this company, they really mean it. They brew beers with green raisins, algae, and other oddities. They also make a very popular and well-rated line of India Pale Ales. Dogfish Head Sixty-One IPA (6.5% ABV) is one of them. It is one of the regularly-produced beers.

An India Pale Ale (IPA) is basically a top-fermented, warm-fermented beer brewed from pale malted grains, with an unusually-high amount of hops that give it a bitterness. The hops were originally added as a preservative so that the ale could survive long sea voyages. These days, we hopheads enjoy the complex bitterness in IPAs as a flavor unto itself. Rumor has it that Sixty-One is the company’s executive’s favorite beer, and it has another very special quality: it uses California Syrah grape must in the brewing process! And the artist who painted the design for the label used actual wine, beer, and chocolate mixed in with his pigments, to create the colors.

Everything On Tap Review – Dogfish Head Sixty-One IPA:

Bottle: This dark-brown glass bottle is labeled in a lovely wine-purple with white lettering in an unconventional font. The Dogfish Head logo is red on white, and displays — you guessed it — a dogfish.

Pour: The color is a reddish, purplish amber with relative clarity. The head is half a finger thick and bleach-white, and it dissipates at a medium pace.

Aroma: This is one interesting bouquet! I suspect that the added wine must has alot to do with the great complexity. The aroma includes spicy grains, purple grapes, leather, musk, earth, berries, molasses, yeasty bread, ethyl alcohol, red wine, and bitter hops. The elements of the bouquet are quite varied.

Flavor: There is a base flavor of malted grains, topped with bitter, citrus-grapefruit hops. This initial flavor profile is followed by a strong element of red wine and yeast. On the finish, there is ethyl alcohol and bitter hops. I find this to be a very interesting and delicious combination of flavors.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is light to medium, which is surprising for such a complex, structured aroma and flavor profile. The carbonation is relatively low for an IPA, and the finish leaves a slightly astringent, dry feel on the tongue, presumably from the tannins in the wine.

Structure: For such a broad, complex flavor profile, the structure is a bit lacking, but the grainy, ale part of this beverage holds its own. What I believe I sensed is simply the naturally-non-viscous quality of the wine must. Still, I think this ale would stand up to some light aging in barrels.

Food Pairing: I must agree with the Dogfish Head company that Sixty-One IPA would pair very well with chocolate. As for savory foods, pair it with roast duck.

Overall Rating Out of 5 Possible Beer Mugs: