Dutchess Ales | GB
On paper, Dutchess Ales GB doesn’t scream traditional English Ale. This Pale Ale includes a variety of hops like Centennial and Amarillo, and ferments with a hybrid yeast containing three different strains, none of them English in origin. However, this is a beer that works well in the pub (remember those?), several pints at a time. In that sense, it’s 100 percent spot on.
This is very intentional. According to Dutchess Ales Co-Owner Michael Messenie, “My ideal setting is a table with friends engaged in conversation…not about the beer, but about life and living.”
GB was created after a conversation Messenie had with his friend Andrew Tarlow, the Brooklyn restaurateur behind Diner, Marlow & Sons, Achilles Heel et. al. Tarlow wanted Dutchess to brew a “crispy, Kölsch-like beer” for one of his restaurants. That gave Messenie the idea to combine what he loves about dry, English session beer, with Kölsch ale yeast strains. The vision was to create a beer having “some traditional ale characteristics and mouthfeel, but with a crispy snap of Kölsch.”
It took a while for Dutchess to make the beer, and when they finally did, Tarlow called it Ghost Beer. Messenie assumes this is because once he finally saw it, “he must have thought it was an apparition.” Tarlow also provided the beer’s accompanying artwork (Ghost Beer was the original name, but Dutchess changed it to GB after their use of it was challenged by another brewery).
The malt bill includes a base of Maris Otter, with a little Vienna and Crystal. The result is a dark gold, nearly amber color beer with a subtle orange/citrus fruit aroma. The flavor is a wonderful balance with sweetness up front, dry bitterness on the end and an overall great mouthfeel. Instead of being a mediocre take on an English Ale, it is a unique and rewarding beer.
While GB is one of the less traditional English ales in Dutchess’ lineup, it could be a gateway, leading a younger craft beer audience to appreciate subtle ales. There may be room for beers like these in a post-COVID-19 world. No hype. No lines. Just high-quality beer at an affordable price and a low ABV (4.8 percent).
Dutchess, with a home base in the Hudson Valley, brews the bulk of this beer at Great South Bay Brewery in Long Island, New York. Canning started in mid-2019, and it quickly became a favorite of aficionados in the region. You can find it in New York and portions of Massachusetts.
They hope to expand into other states, keeping it a fresh, year-round release that is easily accessible. A taproom is also under consideration, where customers will be able to have this beer fresh from a cask.