Last summer, on a tour of the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, DE, I saw one of the original machines used to continuously hop beer produced there – “Sir Hops a Lot”. Sir Hops a Lot had been retired, and was sitting, sadly, on the ground in a back corner of the brewery, and had been replaced with “Me So Hoppy” – an in-line system that automatically feeds hops through to the brewing process which is now a *much* larger scale. I remembered back to my first introduction to craft beer – the days of “Sir Hops a Lot” and the dynamics of hops, when I was first educated.
Many years ago, Mike bought a few bottles of 120 minute IPA, 90 minute IPA and 60 minute IPA for my family to try side-by-side. I have described this moment as my “craft beer epiphany” where I realized the versatility and insane creativity that is possible to be found in beer.
So, when at Novare Res for a completely different reason, I spied Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA on their tap list, I couldn’t resist. I haven’t tasted this beer for more than four years, and, frankly, I had to have it.
This year (2011)’s batch ended up right at 18% ABV. A deep orange color, the viscosity and alcohol content of this brew becomes apparent when swirled in the glass. The aroma is pretty hot (meaning that I can definitely detect the alcohol over the hop flavors), but has a malty sweetness to complement it. It smells like a strong barleywine, and it’s difficulty to pick out any overwhelmingly sharp hop aroma, but that sweet alcohol twinge comes through loud and clear.
On the tongue, it isn’t an alcohol burn, it’s a low-carbonation bomb of flavor. It coats my tongue with a powerful sweetness and a subtle bitter tone, but isn’t bitter the way you would assume something with such an insane quantity of hops would be. It doesnt make me blink away its strength, but rather, submit to it. It slides in like a seductress, under the radar, but leaves you feeling totally turned on. I like it. I don’t know how much I remember tasting it in 2007, but I am thrilled at this. It has a smoothness that is just amazing considering the ABV. No “hot” alcohol burn when you drink it, just a sublime and balanced brew. I am impressed, and that’s coming from someone who is a regular Dogfsh Head fan.
While the experience of drinking it in isolation isn’t quite as enlightening as drinking it with its slightly less-hopped cousins, it is still an experience that will make your night.