Style: American Fruit IPA
Brewed with: Syrah Grape Must
From: Milton, DE
Brewer’s Note: “Whenever Dogfish Head President Sam Calagione and his neighborhood friends gather for drinks, they give each other a big ol’ man-hug and order a round of 60 Minute IPA. A few years ago, Sam also ordered a glass of his favorite red wine and poured a little into each pint of 60 Minute. They all dug the combination of fruity complexity and pungent hoppiness, and the blend became a beloved tradition./Sixty-One captures that tradition in a bottle and marries two Dogfish Head innovations: beer/wine hybrids… and continually-hopped IPAs./The name Sixty-One is a reminder that this beer is Dogfish Head’s best-selling 60 Minute IPA plus one new ingredient: syrah grape must from California. The label, painted by Sam, is a twist on a typical watercolor. Rather than using water, Sam mixed the green pigment with beer and the red pigment with wine. And because Sixty-One pairs so well with chocolate, he painted the browns on the label with melted chocolate.”
The beer’s label is made with the same awesome gritty paper that all Dogfish Head labels are made of. I have to be honest that I am not that taken with the “standard” Dogfish Head label design, mostly because it is standard. The background of this beer is awesome, and the “Painted” font looks sweet. Clutter is superbly kept to a minimum on Dogfish Head labels, but they’re a little boring. It needs something more… It needs a graphic of some sort to establish it as its own beer. That being said, this beer label is worthy of scrapbooking. It is still a beautiful and barebones design that looks neat, I just don’t feel like it has enough personal flair to throw it up on a shelf.
The beer pours a pale pinkish red, much like a rosé wine, and it pours with a very fizzy, eggshell white head, much like a frizzante wine. The head quickly peels away to leave a light scrim, but that scrim is constantly punctured by a rapid torrent of carbonated bubbles working their way to the top of the glass. In body, the beer is nicely clean and clear, appearing much like a rosé wine. On the nose, the beer smells spicy and bready with sweet, jam-like fruit notes also coming through. Oddly enough, the nose actually reminds me of a softer smelling Soft Parade by Shorts Brewing Company. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet, then lightly acidic, and then nicely bitter at the end. The flavors begin as sweet, and almost sour, generic berry flavor with a touch of earthy spice, which slowly moves into a tongue tingling bitter that mellows over the tongue and gives some nice grassy notes of flavoring. The finish is nearly pure IPA with just light touches of fruity berries, and the aftertaste is just bitter medicinal hops in the mouth. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium with a tongue tingling carbonation that helps to scrub back some of the Syrah’s sweeter notes, and which helps to pave the way for the hops bitter back end of the flavor. The mouth is left surprisingly dry, though there is a slight syrupy feel at the middle of the tongue. Overall, this beer is an interesting step in the ongoing experimentation with beer-wine hybrids. It sweet up front, and bitter in the back, but it doesn’t quite give the Syrah flavors that I was hoping for, and honestly, I was kind of hoping for some tannic bitter on the back of the tongue. I think a tempranillo grape, with its big earthy and spicy notes would be a better match for an IPA, which has me hoping that DFH will maybe do a series of this beer with different grapes. In the end, this is an interesting beer, but not Dogfish Heads best.