Ipswich Dark Ale | Ipswich Ale Brewery

very good
151 Reviews
Ipswich Dark AleIpswich Dark Ale

Brewed by:
Ipswich Ale Brewery
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-20-2000

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 151 | Ratings: 219
Photo of ppoitras
3.62/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

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Photo of 86MonteSS
4.28/5  rDev +10%
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.

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Photo of ecoboy
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

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Photo of waughbrew
3.67/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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Photo of bditty187
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
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!

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Photo of UncleFrank
4.27/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.15/5  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.

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Photo of BierReise
4/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of mschofield
4.22/5  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

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Photo of far333
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.2/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of UnionMade
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of edchicma
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

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Photo of scottum
3.44/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Photo of MJR
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of nixhecks
3.25/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer has a deep amber color with a foamy head that remains in some form throughout the entire glass. Some lace clings to the side and remains on the surface of the beer. It has a very flowery/hoppy aroma. I find this medium bodied beer begins a little malty and sweet then quickly changes to a more hoppy flavor and finishes with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

When I bought this beer to try I was expecting a more malty flavor. I was pleasantly surprised at how hoppy it was. However, I did not think the hop flavor was overly bitter.

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Photo of Gusler
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The pour a deep hazy brown color, the head impressive and frothy in its consistency and as it erodes leaves a fine sheet of lace to cover the glass. Quite earthy and somewhat nut sweet nose, fresh and clean. The front is malt sweet; the top middling with a portly hop presence to spice it up also favorably carbonated with a droughty long lasting aftertaste.

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Photo of purplehops
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ipswich Dark pours from the 1/2 gallon growler a cloudy burnt orange with a light tan head of compact bubbles. The head leaves a wonderful lace on the glass. The aroma is very hoppy with light flowery notes. The taste is very malty with a nice hop bite. The finish is slightly dry with hints of peppery hops. The mouthfeel is big and chewy with lots of malt. This is a great brown ale. Perhaps one could call it a brown IPA or ESB. This is a good everyday ale that loses nothing in taste or enjoyment from day to day. The growler recipe is ten times better than the 12oz. bottle recipe. Grab a growler and have a taste of the best American brown ale on the east coast. IMHO.

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased in a growler. Removed the cap and was surprised by the carbonation. Dark brown amber color, with a strong smell of hops. Pours great into a glass, and goes down very easy. A rich good tasting beer.

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Photo of Bighuge
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bit of a murky looking ruby-orange brew. The thin light brown head recedes to a thin coating in a minute. Lacing is adequate. Some roasted malt and chocolate tones on the nose. Solid brown ale here. It's a got a bitter bite to it. But it's rounded on the edges with some dark malts and possibly Belgian malts. Real toasty. A bread like character is present as well. Body is medium-full. Pretty tasty for a brown ale.

Thanks to pbrian for the sample.

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Photo of pbrian
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours muddy brown with an everlasting tan head. Smell is a fresh mix of sweet malts, spicy yeast, and citrusy hops. Taste borders on a porter: roasted grains, chocolately, nice yeast profile. Bitterness towards the end balances it just so. Smooth and full bodied. A treat I should buy more often.

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Photo of Murph
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright brown color with a thick tan head and quite a few yeasties suspended. Good hoppy nose with a nice trailing malt presence, definite caramel character. Taste starts of with plenty of caramel and lightly roasted malty sweetness. The brew then transitions into a nice hoppy slightly citrus flavor. Smooth and very creamy, this brew is quite drinkable. This would make one hell of a session brew. Thanks to the Bierman for the sample.

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Photo of Jason
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: ½ gallon brown glass growler with no freshness date or info about the beer.

Appearance: Slightly hazed brownish amber with a slow rush of carbonation fighting to get to the top to form a wonderful and sticky head.

Smell: Aromas of bread crust with a faint floral hop and vague fruitiness.

Taste: Very smooth with a slight viscous mouth feel as the carbonation pushes through the medium to full body. Mild roasted, chocolaty and biscuity flavour with hints of coco, chicory and whole grain bread. Malt sweetness runs with a fruitiness as well as a touch of nutty yeast. Alcohol is present but light with a flash of esters. Hops become more prevalent as the finish grows near, bitterness is level but not pushy and leaves a trace oily and citric hop flavour that lingers far into the after taste.

Notes: Big, rich and fat in flavour. This is one ale that does not get enough respect. Pairs well with just about everything, corned beef on rye did very well.

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Ipswich Dark Ale from Ipswich Ale Brewery
3.89 out of 5 based on 219 ratings.
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