Beer Review: Dogfish Head’s Sixty-One


I’m in the middle of pulling off my first running on my brew of One-Eight-Seven (187), so I figured I’d crack a beer while I waited for the mash tun to drain.

The first IPA I really loved was Dogfish Head’s 60-Minute IPA. It’s a classic in all the best senses of the word. So when I heard about the Sixty-One Minute IPA that mixed in a bit of Syrah grape must with the 60, I was skeptical. First, 60 is great as it is; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Second, I’m not a wine drinker. I don’t like the taste of any wine I’ve ever had. But when it comes to Dogfish Head beers like Raison D’être and Midas Touch, which were beer/wine hybrids, I have enjoyed them. Especially the Raison. So I figured I’d give this beer a shot since it was available as a single.

Dogfish 61 1

From Dogfish:

Sixty-One, our first new core beer since 2007, was born at the crossroads of serendipity, experimentation and brotherhood.

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 — which Dogfish has focused on for well over a decade with beers like Midas Touch and Raison D’être — 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.

ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 60

To the scorecards:

Beer Advocate: 81, 90
Ratebeer: 68, 38
Untappd: 3.56

Appearance: This looks like a rosé. Pinkish amber in color with a just-off-white head that doesn’t stay long and doesn’t leave too much lacing. Definitely an “off-centered” look.

Smell: This was not as strong as I was expecting. The grape smell is faint and I’m not getting a lot of the usual hops coming through either. There’s a little bit of red wine, but again not very powerful. 

Taste: I’m sad to say that it tastes as weak as it smells. There’s not much flavor; the red-wine/grape flavor is dominant with a little bit of malt and bitterness, but it’s barely distinguishable. I’m starting to think something about the grape must dampens the taste and smell of the hops. Disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Okay, here we go. This is smooth with nice carbonation that leaves little bubbles on the tongue. It feels like I’m drinking a 60-minute IPA, but with no real lingering effect or palate-coating.

Final Verdict:  2.5 out of 5. Skip this one.

Wow. I’m really shocked by how mediocre this beer is. I thought I might not like it because I don’t like red wine (or white) and that would taint my opinion, but I ended up not liking it because there wasn’t much there to like. Weak smell, weak taste that isn’t totally unpleasant but not what I’d want when I want a beer. It looks pretty and it feels nice, so that’s cool I guess. I’m almost speechless. Dogfish Head usually nails these funky experiments, but I find it hard to believe that this is what Sam and Co were aiming for. I might try this again if given one for free, just to see if I got a bad bottle, but this was underwhelming and disappointing.

Dogfish 61 3

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