Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Huge thanks to Mike at 8th St. Grille for gifting this beer to me a couple weeks ago. Sitting lonely in its case in the basement of the pub, alongside several of its brothers, this beer was itching to be tasted, and I was thinking the same. Long before starting this blog, this is the beer I've been most interested in trying. Back in college I made my way through the 60 minute, the 90 minute as well as several of the other varieties available on the Rock Island Hy-vee shelves. But legend had it there was also a 120 minute IPA!...Hopped continuously for a whole two hours. For all the requests I put out, I got back very little return (a few 90's, a Festina here, a Namaste there - all of which are great, but not what I was ultimately interested in). Then everyone around me somehow had opportunities to get it, and all I would hear was "You haven't had it yet!?" Nope. Until now. Tasted Wednesday evening on the porch with Andrew, who also brought over a KBS and a couple other rarities. Snifter served. Give it a go!

Appearance: Coppered orange with an unexpected haze to it. Vibrant and glowing. The pour was aggressive in an attempt to produce an adequate head. Nevertheless the result was anything but. No head formation and hardly a ring on the glass. The beer itself looked very still and un-eventful, except for the occasional bubble that remained from the pour. At each tilt of the glass however, bubbles cascade briefly down the sides. As the beer warmed, the chill haze faded and the beer became clear!
Aroma: Bright citrus and American hop. The expectation was to be grassy and bursting with pine.  The pine remained but more of a fruitiness came off. Still the aromatic maltiness, reminiscent of honey comes through, which is also a product in combination with the hops. The hops seem quite mellowed overall, with tones of sulfur and even a nice bouquet of rose petals.
Taste: The forefront is sweetened and earthy and complimented by that faint honeyed spice. Resin pine develops by mid way, in conjunction with an ever prominent, but faint burn from the alcohol. Fusals develop as the beer warms, especially at the back of the throat. More of a burn in general, than anything un-pleasant. Rich and sweet with a lot less hop character than I would have hoped. But for being so big and alcoholic, there are a lot of factors that aid in "balancing" these elements against each other. Granted, if the hops were lessened, this beer would come off as too sweet and tend more to a malt beverage or anything but a beer. The bittering is mostly floral and pine based as it finishes on the palate. Faint citrus, but different than the other XX minute IPA's they produce. Alongside the growing warmth (as it sits, not the alcohol) the malt protrudes with a woody note about it.
Mouthfeel: The texture on the palate is quite thick with a syrupy characteristic about it but still remains smooth. The fine carbonation encourages a soft feel but with no loss to the honey like viscosity - and perfect for the style of big and bold. From the hops at the end they produce two things: a mild acidity that in a way, and oddly enough gives off a quenching aspect as does the dry finish. Still a lot of coating and cloy. Obviously, a burn finishes down the throat
Overall Impression: Well, there you have it. Certainly one of the biggest beers I've encountered. Was the experience all I expected? Pretty much. Was it how I would have hoped it would taste? Not really. I was expecting something with a bit more of a citrus bite to it. The nose was perfumy and scented of honey and alcohol, and the flavor was quite similar, though perhaps more on the malt side. I can definitely see this beer sitting well and developing a more woody/earthy character as the hops mellow down. I think this beer is one everyone should try, but I don't see myself really seeking it out for another year or two, unless the opportunity arises that I get to try it in a vertical or against an older vintage. Phew, it's a big one.


  1. I'm glad some finally found its way to you! Good write up and hopefully it won't be your last. After all, there's still a "Heaven & Hell" to try, which is sort of like a black & tan, but with DFH 120 mixed with DFH World Wide Stout!

  2. Dogfish keeps knocking out good brews. Seems every time I hit the store there is something else to try and it's always potent.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. That mix sure sounds intimidating. I actually still haven't had World Wide Stout yet. And tah'hiket is still on my list. If you've had them, how are they?
    DFH has an awesome variety, and they're doing a tremendous job pumping out historic replicas of the past!