Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

From the beginning of the experience, a beautiful copper-colored beer with a nice creamy head, this beer makes me happy. And it just gets better. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA might be the best American IPA I have ever tasted. It’s got some great hoppy flavor that is nicely balance by the sweetness of the malt, and maybe some nutty, yeasty flavors (I’m terrible at naming flavors) too. It also packs a punch at about 6% alcohol, so this isn’t the kind of beer that lends itself well to sitting on the patio and drinking a 12-pack while you barbecue a pork shoulder. Or maybe it is, because it isn’t highly carbonated and goes down really, really well. Just don’t go to the store for more charcoal after the beer is done.

Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 Belgian Ale

What do you drink with steak, when the other people at the table aren’t drinking red wine, and the wine-by-the-glass list is boring? I started with a martini at the bar, and after a few sips, I realized that it was one of those rare beasts — a martini better than most of my own creations. And that is grand praise indeed (the writer says, blushing). So I was primed for an evening of fine drinking, but that was not to be had from the wine list. There are few things that irritate me more than a poorly thought-out wine list. And it isn’t even that tough to create a list that has a bit of spark. But this was obviously a canned list from the restaurant’s distributor. My wife lucked out with a Chardonnay that was quite good, but I was left to fend for myself.

I had noticed a Local 1 Belgian Ale behind the bar, and it intrigued me, but only when I nodded off reading the red wine list did I think about ordering it. It arrived in a 750-ml. bottle, with a cork and a champagne cap. It looked impressive, and when the waiter poured some into a tall glass (faintly irritating in its own right . . . come on, I can pour my own beer). I immediately noticed some interesting sweet aromas. My first sip confirmed it. This was a very sweet beer. But I wasn’t put off by the sweetness. There were other flavors, and some nice bite from hops that balanced the sugar. It stood up to the excellent steak, and the last sip even held its own with the pecan pie. I liked the malty flavors of this beer, and while the sweetness is a bit startling at first, it is well worth trying. But be aware that it packs a respectable punch at 9.0% alcohol.

Brooklyn Brewery makes a fair number of beers, and most of them are worth drinking, or at least trying. Local 1 Belgian Ale is certainly on my short list of interesting beers that I would be happy to see in any restaurant or bar.

Gritty McDuff’s Original Pub Style Ale

Can you tell that I am on a beer kick? Well, this stuff might get me off it. Wait, that’s not fair, but I wasn’t tremendously impressed by Gritty’s effort. It was missing something, something like…flavor! Everything else was quite nice. The ale was a nice, medium copper color, the head was creamy, and it even smelled pretty good. But tasting it was like tasting watered-down wine, or a martini that has sat too long on the ice. There was taste, just not enough of it. I could detect some hoppiness and maybe even some fruit overtones. It was certainly pleasant — I finished the six-pack (no, not last night), but I want some intensity of flavor in my beer, and this stuff just didn’t have it. I am pretty picky when it comes to beer, and if I were marooned on a desert island with a choice of Gritty McDuff’s Original Pub Style Ale or Miller, Gritty would be getting my business. But I would still poke around for the case of Lagunitas IPA buried next to the crooked palm tree.

Ipswich Original Ale (Mercury Brewing Company)

This was a very good “English Style Pale Ale” that didn’t taste very English to me, but nonetheless, it was a very good match with the nachos that I made for dinner last night. Nachos? Yup, because I had a small amount of beef chili and not much else in the house, so nachos was the logical choice. The ale is made by a small company (Mercury Brewing Company) in, surprise!, Ipswich, Massachusetts. I haven’t had anything else they make, which seems to include a large assortment of sodas.

The ale had a nice pale copper color, with a nice creamy head and a malty aroma that was quite appealing. It was not too carbonated, which immediately made me very happy. One of the problems with otherwise excellent American beers and ales is the excessive carbonation. If I want a glass of seltzer, I’ll drink a glass of seltzer! But this stuff was not overloaded with CO2. There was a hint of hops, but nowhere near enough to call this an “English Style Pale Ale.” And that is not a criticism. I liked the malty, roasted flavors with just a touch of bitterness. Good stuff. I’ll buy it again, and I will also try their other beers. I am impressed.

Bass Ale Is Not The Cat’s Pajamas.

Okay, I admit it. I had a beer at lunch. Just one, and it was mediocre. What has happened to Bass Ale? Has my beer taste become more sophisticated or has Bass gone into the toilet? The worst part of this sordid mess is that I had the beer with an excellent bar pizza from Kinchley’s Tavern. Great crispy thin crust pizza, and my wife’s tuna melt wasn’t bad either. Maybe I had a bad bottle, but I have had the impression that Bass just ain’t what it used to be for some time. It’s better on tap, but only from fresh kegs. I think the beer world has moved beyond Bass Ale.