Dry Dock Amber Ale is a very coppery, well-balanced ale with caramel notes and a pronounced English hop character. It's really more of an ESB than what I think of as an American Amber. If you don't believe me, read the can--'this deep copper ESB is the definition of balance'. Speaking of the can, I have to say that these guys have their nautical theme image dialed in pretty well, with appealing artwork and quotes by such figures as admiral Horatio Nelson: 'No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.' Well, an ESB isn't exactly the flavor equivalent of a ship-sinking broadside, but it sure does do a good job of highlighting hop bitterness and malty richness and sweetness without overpowering you with any element. I must say that I'm impressed with this well-crafted ale. It's no wonder that Dry Dock won 'small brewing company of the year' at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009.
Some of Dry Dock's beers have won medals at GABF as well, including Dry Dock Hefeweizen (Gold, German Hefeweizen, 2012, Silver, German Hefeweizen, 2010, Silver, German Hefeweizen, 2009) and Dry Dock Apricot Blonde (Gold, Fruit Beer, 2012). Dry Dock Amber won its own medal, in 2006, when it was called HMS Victory ESB (there goes the mystery about the Nelson quote). All this from a brewery started in 2005 by the owners of a home brew shop. I unintentionally paired this with a mild red curry (hey, I had beer, I had curry—what's a man to do?), which brought the sweet, malty aspect forward in the beer. Wasn't all that great of a combination, to be honest—starchy curry and sweet malt—but it's a good illustration of how drinking a beer with food can change the perceived flavor profile as your palate attempts to deal with disparate information. Next time, an IPA with the curry..perhaps Dry Dock's own Hob Abomination which, as you might imagine, is a bit of a departure from their standard, reasonably balanced faire.