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Ipswich Dark Ale - Ipswich Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Ipswich Dark AleIpswich Dark Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

209 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 209
Reviews: 149
rAvg: 3.87
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 16
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Ipswich Ale Brewery visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  6.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-20-2000)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 209 | Reviews: 149 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jamesclark
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very dark, muddy brown beer, this pours a reasonable head with mild retention. Within I can see suspended particulate matter of some kind.

There is a significant floral hop aroma - with some roasted malt backing it up. Is this dry-hopped?

The flavor is a nice balance of floral hop bitterness with a thick malty body. It has a somewhat smoky character. The long finish is dry and bitter.

This is a flavorful beer - hoppy, malty, easy to drink.

jamesclark, Jan 06, 2006
Photo of NEhophead
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Creamy 1/2" off white head that slowly recedes to a rather thick sheet. Ringed and patterned lace with good strength. Deep brown in color with flashes of burgundy and auburn.

Semi-sweet caramel and roasted malt aromas. Tones of roasted nuts: almond, hazlenut, etc. Light coffee and espresso.

Mild coffee flavors; lightly sweetened, met by a surprising dose of lemon from the hop profile. Almost an unsweetened, but not completely bitter, milk chocolate and caramel flavor. Hints of toasted hazlenut toffee in the aftertaste.

Medium bodied; a nice mellow feel on the palate. The carbonation is just a tad too much for the style.

Nice flavors; light and drinkable. The cascade hop addition is a unique choice for the style. I'm not sure it works really well, but it doesn't ruin the beer in the least.

NEhophead, Oct 29, 2005
Photo of bjohnson
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ipswich never ceases to amaze me! This one pours a dark cranberry/maroonish color with a good head. Not much head retention on this one though. Leaves a nice trail of lace. Smells nutty and has a roasted malt taste. Also is a tad bitter. Drinkabillity is great, just like the rest of Ipswich's beers!

bjohnson, Oct 09, 2005
Photo of yoyo
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was pleasantly suprised by this brand of beer on a recent vacation to Cape Cod, MA. I drank 2 mixed 12 packs while there and should've brought some home. The dark ale jumped out at me cause it WAS dark, and and had a great balanced taste and some kick. Caramel and malt with nice hoppy bite.

yoyo, Sep 01, 2005
Photo of Jacobob10
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The last variety out of my mixed 12-pack to be sampled. Poured a murky, brownish-orange color. The appearance reminded me of apple cider with a nice head. Great nutty aroma. There are definitely some floral hops in there that give the taste a nice bite to counteract the roasted malts. The taste reminded me of coffee and dark chocolate. Normally you would find the same taste in a much more hefty brew, but the drinkability on this is excellent. Very enjoyable beer and I was very pleased overall with the Ipswich sampler pack.

Jacobob10, Apr 26, 2005
Photo of BuckSpin
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the best beer I have ever drunk in the shower..LOL. Hey, ever had a day at work, and you get home and just want to hot wash it all away? Take your work (beer reviews) with you!

Ales are something I am learning more about, but this one was a real gem. My biggest concern with darker brews is their drinkability, meaning could you easily drink it and more? This one passed that test with flying colors.

Can't say much about the color given that I was in shower, but it had a fantastic noise - inviting, friendly, chocolately, not intimidating at all. Very smooth & even from tongue to swallow, almost porter like. Hint of hops, but nicely balanced. Very light bitterness, a wisp of smoke, and perhaps some clues as to - nuts? fruit?

It was a great, drinkable (my biggest compliment) dark ale that I would definitely try in & out of the shower again.

BuckSpin, Mar 27, 2005
Photo of smcolw
4.45/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep brown. Opaque, but only when placed against a bright light. Good tan head that leaves some spotty lace.

Rich dark malt aromas, but not sweet--dark chocolate comes to mind. Roasted, but not burnt, grains are tempered by the subtle touch of hop. Very inviting!

Like an excellent homebrew, I mean this as a high compliment. There are stong stout-like flavors, but this brew is missing the richness of a stout. I enjoy the large amount of hops present as well. This may be one of the most flavorful brews I've had in some time.

Typically, I'm not a "dark" beer fan. I love stouts, porters and brown ales, but when a brewer is inclined to use the moniker of dark ale, I typically expect a watered down version of an American ale with a small amount of black patent malt to make it darker. I am pleased to report that this beer breaks that rule; it is complex, flavorful and extraordinarily drinkable. This was a shocking surprise!

smcolw, Mar 06, 2005
Photo of Sycodrummer
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Recently had from the bottle at Woody's on Hemenway St. in Boston, Mass. Poured from a 12oz. brown bottle (void of a freshness date) into a standard pint glass. A deep dark brown with ruby highlights topped with about an half finger of head that left little to no lacing.

Smell was a little fruity and nutty but also had some slight hop fragrance and a tiny bit of burnt toffee.

Taste was quite good. Light to moderate on the palate and some definte nutty and slightly bitter tastes came thru.

Very easy to drink, I had two in this sitting but could have easily had two more. All in all a solid all around beer.

Sycodrummer, Feb 26, 2005
Photo of ppoitras
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12ozer bottle bought as part of a mix 6-pack (that the proprietor was nice enough to allow me to make) from Holiday Spirits, Storrs, CT.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" tan head above the cloudy dark reddish brown brew. Head fades slowly, and lacing is average. Aroma is grain husks and dark fruits. Interesting, almost reminiscent of a doppledock in the nose. Taste is earthy bitter grains, fruity tartness as it goes over the tongue. Mouthfeel and drinkability are okay this time around. Was a bit sloppy with the decanting, this could be the source of what I perceive as somewhat off-flavoring. An interesting brew that I will revisit.

<edit> Was growing on me by the end, and I upped a few attributes a notch.

ppoitras, Feb 22, 2005
Photo of twelvsies
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer appears a dark brown which looks a bit reddish when held up to the light. Small off-white bubbly swirly head. Smell is very complex. Piney hops come to mind first, followed up by some chocolate wafts and some cherry or grape kicks. Smells like one of those chocolates in the box with the raspberry filling or whatever. Taste is roasty chocolaty malts with a very substantial hoppy backbone. Some dried fruit notes in there as well, a key part of this complex little beer we have here. For a beer this thick and chocolaty and tasty like a porter, this beer is not full bodied, more of a medium feel, but crisp and smooth. A very interesting, drinkable ale. Cheers.

twelvsies, Nov 10, 2004
Photo of 86MonteSS
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've got high standards for Ipswich, but their beers consistently take my standards and force them into very uncomfortable places. The Dark Ale proves to me what a rock-solid brewery this really is. Their beers are characteristically robust yet very drinkable, and this is no exception. A baker's chocolate quality seems to be at the forefront of this beer, but at the same time it's refreshing enough to be had by the dozen. Rich, savory... a real base hit.

86MonteSS, Oct 18, 2004
Photo of ecoboy
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

How does anybody expect to sell anything called a "Dark Ale" in this country? The general public is so afraid of the dark, so to speak. This must be a tough sell. Someone used to Newcastle would love this flavor, and yet the word "dark" might send them spinning off down the liquor store aisle.

This is for lovers of roasty and even chocolaty malts. Light mouthfeel, light hop character. This is certainly capable of being very drinkable if you're a malt person: fairly unidirectional with the roasty nature lasting all the way through the glass and even therafter. Does not unpleasantly coat the tongue.

Good enough for what it is: the metaphor might be like a steak good enough to not need any sauce.

ecoboy, Jul 20, 2004
Photo of waughbrew
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Murky auburn swamp water with off-white foam. Dirty roasty earthy buttery herbage with fruity and spicy notes. Flavor shows deep caramels and cold coffee with tea leaves. A little unexpected warming alcohol character. Dirty medium-thick hop/yeast/coffee finish is interesting but hurts the drinkability.

This is one wacked-out brew. Seems like a mix between a porter and an English IPA. I like it, but I could not drink it often. It is complex, but not my favorite flavor profile.

waughbrew, Jun 29, 2004
Photo of bditty187
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Unfiltered, brown in hue with a tawny-amber highlight, especially when held to a light. A modest sized beige head of a ¼” in height topped off the beer. The head retention was reasonable; it faded to a loose cap, which lasted the entire consumption. The subsequent lacing was basically none. Still the appearance is pleasant. The first couple of whiffs of the nose didn’t do much for me. But, in time, aromas of chocolate, oranges, caramel, and a Brown Ale-like maltiness emerged. The smells from the hops were slight but I got a suggestion of grass. The dark malty aromas are the focal point, yet they really aren’t that loud. Still the potency is strong enough to tell me to drink. So I did. I won’t lie, I didn’t realize there was a style of beer on BA called Dark Ale; I just thought it was a ubiquitous term. I really didn’t know what to expect, especially on the palate. The nose was good but the taste was, frankly, awesome! The balance was impressive; the maltiness is very much like a Brown Ale but with chocolate and caramel influences. The chocolate flavors are significant. In the middle a yeasty, ale fruitiness is found, oranges mainly but hints of citrus. These citrus notes are also found in the finish but this time it is a byproduct of the hops. I am impressed at the bitterness; I get a sold dose of citrus bitterness on the back of my throat. What is this beer exactly, an IDA? That would be an India Dark Ale! This is damn tasty! The aftertaste really seals the deal for me; it is a mix of dark malty flavors and bold hoppy bitterness. I could pair this beer with many different foods and cheeses. It is surprisingly complex! Medium/medium-full in body, it works for me, the carbonation is modest but natural, this is an easy drinking beer. Lovely stuff. Yet again I am impressed with these Ipswich beers. This might be the best tasting one yet. I’d kill for more. Thank you drweizen for the bottle in the BIF 5 package!

bditty187, Jun 10, 2004
Photo of UncleFrank
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As far as a style, where Dark Ale fits Im not sure. Is it Munich Dark? Porter but lighter? Brown Ale? etc? But to this I say who cares!
The aroma is of chocolate and biscuts. Almost like a dark grain bagel with hints of maple. No hop aroma. The color is cloudy brown with a lasting beige head.
The taste gets better as it warms. Typical of a strong beer, which this isnt. This adds to its complexity. Chocolate, wood, roasted malts, a touch of dark fruit followed by citrus and pine hop flavors like orange skins. The finish is slightly hoppy and dry. A tartness or "twang" stays and makes me want more.
This is an excellent beer. I really want to find the "Base" idea for it and brew something like it myself.

UncleFrank, Feb 21, 2004
Photo of BeerResearcher
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This “Original American” pours a cloudy dark rust color with a frothy beige head and loads off stick, webby lace.
An assertive piney and floral hop aroma blasts out of the gate. A mild malty aroma arrives late, but is quite the compliment to the hops.
The full malty body is biscuity with a bit of caramel sweetness.
This brew is highly hopped for the style. Grapefruit and a light metallic bitterness come through.
This Beer is bold, assertive and complex.

BeerResearcher, Feb 13, 2004
Photo of BierReise
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky brown color reminding me of the Charles River with a thick tan head that retains well. Aroma is hops up front with a nice bready roasty malt in the background. Body is medium with a crisp carbonation. Flavor is like the aroma, hoppy bitterness with a good roasted malt flavor as well. Slight metallic in finish but nothing really bad. Overall a decent brew.

BierReise, Feb 03, 2004
Photo of mschofield
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy medium brown, has a tall four finger light tan head. Leaves some bits of lace down the glass, under a complete ring left at the top.
Hoppy (citrus & floral) aroma, on top of roasted malt, chocolate.
Taste of roasted malt, dark chocolate, orange, toast, toasted bread and cola. Hops come through as I drink - mainly citrus.
Medium body, smooth, nice level of bitterness.
Great session beer, goes down great. Hoppier than I thought it would be

mschofield, Jan 16, 2004
Photo of far333
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark copper color with a foamy beige head that leaves oily lace around the glass as I drain it. Aroma is of cocoa, with hints of cinnamon and sweet candy. Smooth and full mouthfeel leads to a full and chewy flavor of roasted malt with hints of chocolate, coffee, and fig. Hop presence is felt, but it doesn't compete with the other flavors. They all work well together. A lingering cocoa flavor envelopes the mouth. This is a great beer.

far333, Jan 02, 2004
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy dark ruby with thick lacy tan head. Very light fruity and spicy aromas. Smells fruity and spicy but very light aromas.

Taste is much better than the aroma. Smoky and burnt malt. Very bitter but creamy too. Chocolatey with a surprisingly strong taste of bitter hops in there too. Very unusual and very tasty.

Dark and smooth. Creamy mouthfell witha smoky bitter aftertaste. Yet another very good offering from Ipswich. I love them all thus far.

ViveLaChouffe, Dec 12, 2003
Photo of UnionMade
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours a slightly brassy mahogany, topped with a thick sandy colored head. Slightly hazy. Good head retention, maintaining a thick topping of head throughout the pint. Excellent lacework, forming drink lines as it's quaffed.
The aroma is actually quite hoppy. I didn't know what to expect, as the last time i had this was 3-4 years ago. Solid caramel malts, with a bit of toastiness and a hint of roasted barley. Some apple fruitiness, with a suggestion of vanilla. The hops are agressive, with a piney citric aroma, and a wierd medical hospital sterilized aroma that I'm not familiar with, kind of like opening a sterilized package of gauze.
The flavor is initially malty, with lots of toasty caramel and a bit of roasted barley. Some unripened peach flavor in the middle, with a bit of estery apple flavor. Tangy hops come in quickly, providing a rather unbalancing bitterness. Moderate citric orange peel tanginess, melding into an herbal german noble hopping as the sip finishes. Medium bodied, with a relatively smooth carbonation. A bit overridden with the hops in the end, without a very clean finish. Some caramel and a citric orange peel flavor in the hops. Ok, but not a great combination. Very light graininess.
This beer kind of tastes like an india dark ale. Darker roasted malts with plenty of hops. Very odd, and certainly a unique beer, the likes of which I haven't tried before. Not something for the beginner, but a real beer connoisseur can appreciate it's flavor. Definitely complex, with an interesting blend of flavor. My least favorite from Ipswich, but still very good.

UnionMade, Oct 08, 2003
Photo of edchicma
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice dark appearance. It filled my tumbler with a nice foam that dissipated somewhat quickly. I started drinking this offering quite cold and was not initially impressed. As the brew warmed, what a difference. The flavor was much fuller and richer as it warmed. It felt smooth with a nice mouthfeel after it warmed. Overall drinkability was good, especially after it warmed. This brew reminded me that the nuances of a brew change as the temperatures do....Recommend for those desiring a nice, rounded brew.

edchicma, May 24, 2003
Photo of scottum
3.45/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy deep brown with a big tanish head. Bready/roasty malt flavors rule this brew. The hops balance the finish quite well, but where were they at the start of the race? The finish is quite nice and makes you want to take another sip. Not the best brown ale on the market, but certainly a drinkable brew by all means.

scottum, Apr 17, 2003
Photo of MJR
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark reddish-brown with a bit of chill haze. A light tan head starts at a nice size, and only shrinks a bit. Decent lacing on the glass.

Smell: The aroma is a balance between the bready, grainy smell of the malt, and the aromatic smell of the hops. There's a touch of nuttiness in there as well. Great aroma!

Taste: The balance that was present in the aroma is now tilted a bit towards the hoppy end of the spectrum. There is the bready, toasted flavor from the grains, but the green, fresh hop flavor takes center stage here. The hops have a bit of a grapefruit bite to them. I detect a slight alcohol flavor towards the end, but it's faint enough to not take the attention away from the other flavors. Very nice!

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a mouthfeel that stradles the line between dry and crisp, and round and creamy.

Drinkability: Damn good...if this was available here, I could easily down pint after pint! This is quite the kick-ass American Brown Ale!

A 'thank you' goes out to pbrian for including this great brew in our trade.

MJR, Apr 03, 2003
Photo of nixhecks
3.33/5  rDev -14%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This brown ale poured a cidery brown color with tons of sediment particles floating about - really looked like apple cider. It also had a small head that formed and retained for a few minutes, also leaving a decent amount of lacing down the glass. It could have been the ice cold glass that hindered the aroma, but there was not much smell to this, I was barely able to smell a malty spiciness, not much else. Medium bodied mouthfeel, and a raison-ish malt foretaste with a crisp hop bite on the finish. The aftertaste was a bit unpleasant. Overall I can't see this as a dark/brown ale, it tasted much more similar to a handcrafted, unfiltered amber ale.

nixhecks, Mar 26, 2003
Ipswich Dark Ale from Ipswich Ale Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 209 ratings.