Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

October 10 2011 - 10:31 AM

After seemingly 3 weeks of receiving posts, pictures, and testimonials from friends of mine about it, I finally picked up a Dogfish Head Brewing 120 Minute IPA.  It's one of those event beers you have to post about.  The story is legendary. Dogfish Head brings in a new brewer.  He struggles to make the beer, destroying three batches due to an inability to correct flaws in the yeast.  Finally, he gets it right on try number four.  It hits the market in bombers and 12 oz. bottles, outrageously selling at $11 a bottle for a 12 oz.  Is it worth the buzz?

I picked it up then opened it the next day after it spent a night chilling in my fridge. I poured it into a Dogfish Head glass, a squat, square jawed snifter with a thick, stout stem, that's more of a column than a stem.  Out it poured, a deep amber brown with a slight chestnut tint.  A robust, billowing head quickly followed.  Massive piney hop odors streamed from the glass into the ambient air and the shiny white head refused to budge.

It has that champagne carbonation-like mouthfeel of Dogfish Head 90 Minute but a bit thicker and rounder.  You are immediately blasted with a bit of roasted caramel: they really invert the tasting process, the hops come later.  That slight sweetness melts away and a pine, then grapefruit hop profile takes over.  This eventually dominates to the end of the glass.  Some spices linger around the edges and a minor amount of sweetness.  But a mild amount of pine and a heap of grapefruit are the big  players here and control through the last sip.  Indeed, you will savor every sip of this.  The aroma, carbonation, biting hops, mild sweetness, spiciness, and robustness make for a sublime experience and slow your pacing.

This is truly another masterpiece from Dogfish Head. I recall my first and only other 120, perhaps it was 6 years ago, maybe 7. I found it super sweet, almost syrupy.  Tasty, but not something I'd want to try but every few years.  The re-launched 120 is dangerous inasmuch as it's not too heavy on the mouthfeel, and a rich, complex rewarding beer I'd almost want to drink again immediately.  It's spellbinding to think that this is a beer boasting an impossible 120 IBUs.  This is a brewing achievement.  It is rare to find a "triple" IPA, and not even the venerable Founders with their Devil Dancer achieves these heights. 

Be wary.   This is a potent beer that's upwards of 15 percent alcohol and probably closer to 20.  It's a sipper and will perhaps be your only drink of the night.  Don't approach it if you have to drive somewhere; it's deceptievely strong and quickly sneaks up on you.  Some taverns limit you to one of these, understandably.

Yet, if you love beer, craft beer, good beer, this is an experience you need to have.  There's nothing else like it. 

–Mark Sheppard