So you’re looking for something different, even a little funky? There’s a whole slew of brews out there that fit that category. The style, “American Wild Ale,” is punctuated by the descriptor, “funk.” The style even has a showing in the BeerAdvocate top 25… twice. Now, if you haven’t guessed by now, I gravitate towards the heavier, meatier beers such as Imperial Stouts, Belgian Quads and Barleywines. But I appreciate a good change up, especially if it’s done well. Case in point, the Dogfish Head Sixty-One.
There are plenty of different things that will add a certain funkiness to a beer: wild yeast or bacteria, in the case of American Wild Ales; lactobacillus bacterial culture in Berliner Weisses, and certain types of cask aging such as wine, just to name a few. In the case of the Dogfish Head Sixty-One, the secret funky ingredient is Syrah grape must (basically Syrah grape juice that contains the skin, seeds and stems). They add that to their popular 60 Minute IPA, the little brother to the 90 Minute IPA, and thus is born the Sixty-One.
Sixty-One pours a clear brownish red. It has a thin head and light carbonation with no lacing. The aroma is right off the label of the beer, a moderate intensity musty fruit and grapes. The first taste is mildly hoppy, as would be expected of an IPA, but it’s not too intense, and not too bitter, as characterizes many American IPAs. The grapes are right there as well with a sharp fruitiness of mild to moderate intensity. They are unexpected (despite “grape must” on the label) and therein lies the funkiness. There is only a minimal beginning to the beer, a mild middle and finish and no aftertaste. The body is as expected of an IPA, thin and fizzy with light carbonation.
I found myself thinking, “this is weird,” when I was done. But I kept coming back to it in later weeks. It’s a nice lighter brew that can be enjoyed in the warmer months and it’s definitely different. Check it out if you want to get your funk on.