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Beer Review #303 Sixty-One

07-28-04Dogfish Head recently added a new beer to their year-round group of beers and that beer happens to be the subject of today’s review/ Sixty-One is a “continually-hopped India Pale Ale brewed with Syrah grape must.” Dogfish certainly takes advantage of their continually hopped process at their brewery and adding grape must is an interesting addition to an IPA. This IPA comes in at a healthy 6.5% ABV.

Sixty-One pours a purplish-red and it is perfectly clear. There is a thin purplish-red head that sits on top of the liquid below. In all honesty, it looks like carbonated, watered-down wine. There is a hop nose to the beer but it isn’t sharp or overly bitter. There is some grape in the background but more than anything, a very strong earthy aroma comes out of this beer.

On the first sip I was really surprised at the amount of grape flavor that hits your tongue. The grape flavor stays through the whole drink and a hops enter at the very end. The hops are very nondescript, but come across as a bit earthy and have general bitterness. The beer finishes dry with a bit of a wine flavor.

This sure is an interesting beer, but I’m still not sure if the marriage of hops and grapes works out. The grape flavor is actually pretty nice and edges on being too powerful but the hops just don’t work for me. I would like to try a toned down version of this beer but as it sits currently, this is not one that I’ll be getting again. (more…)

Beer Review #201 Demo

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample
The final beer of my Magic Hat Brewing Company sample pack is Demo. Demo is labeled as a Black IPA and comes in at 6% ABV. According to Magic Hat, Demo is, “a deliciously dark lick of an India Pale Ale. It’s medley of roasted malts and heady hops will have your senses dancing to the beat of a different I.P.A.” Black IPAs and/or Cascadian Dark Ale and/or Cascadian IPAs have been increasing in popularity in the past few years. I believe that they even added a category to the beer styles to fit it. I have not tired many of these beers so I’m still a bit fuzzy on what a good example of this style is.

Demo pours a black color (shocker) and has a light tan head to go with it. The nose is nice and roasty. There are some hints of chocolate and deep caramels in there as well. Surprisingly I didn’t much if any hops on the nose of this beer. For something labeled as IPA, I would have expected there to be more hop aroma. It could be my lack of knowledge of the style, but I was hoping for more hops on the nose.

On my first taste I really loved the solid roasty flavor to this beer. There are some hints of chocolate and coffee, but mainly just a robust roasty flavor. The roastiness is not sharp, but smooth and round. The hops come into the picture on the back half of this beer. They mix very nicely with the roast and provide a good contrast of flavors. I was hoping for some stronger hops, but what was there worked well.

Of the three beers that Magic Hat sent me this is probably my favorite. It is super drinkable and it only comes in at 6% ABV. While I was expecting much more in the way of hops, the lack of a strong hop flavor allowed the malt to shine. If you are a hop head this beer is probably going to disappoint you, but if you like balanced beers (like I do) this one should be right up your alley. (more…)

Beer Review #160 Raging Bitch

Since I moved back east nearly two years ago I have become well reacquainted with the Flying Dog Brewery of Fredrick, Maryland. I have always enjoyed their beer and most recently enjoyed their Secret Stash Harvest Ale. Today’s beer has reached almost mythical status in the beer community. They had a naming dispute with Michigan because,

the name “Raging Bitch” and accompanying label imagery and text by renowned artist Ralph Steadman – endangered public safety and was harmful to any adult who might read the beer’s name on a restaurant menu.

You can read the whole thing here, but if you want the short version of it, they won claiming that their First Amendment rights were violated. Aside from the name, this is a damn good beer.

Raging Bitch pours a nice orange amber color with a fluffy white head. This beer is labeled as a “Belgian-style India Pale Ale” and rocks in at 60 IBUs and 8.3% ABV. The 60 IBUs and IPA classification make their presence known right way. This beer has nice grapefruit hops on the nose. There is some heat as well along with the Belgian spices. The hops really take front and center for this beer in the smell category.

On my first taste I was expected some major hops and I was right. The hops really kick in on the ending and wash out anything else that was there. Just before the hops crash in the Belgian spices kick in and add a nice pre-show to the hops. I honestly didn’t get a lot in the way of malt for this beer. The showcase is the spices and hops.

I really liked this one. I have been on a small IPA kick recently and the Belgian aspect to this IPA added some nice complexity and variation. If you haven’t gotten this one yet, try it out. (more…)