Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA: 15-20% abv
Background: Dogfish Head, a prolific microbrewery that has done a great job making beers, and making them memorable. This beer stands as no exception to the rule. You might notice a peculiar “typo” on the header of this review. That is not a typo; we aren’t quite sure what this batch of 120 Minute IPA is in terms of abv, but rumor has it that it sits around 18% abv, making it the highest alcohol content beer we’ve ever tried. What is the 120 minute about then? The beer is boiled for 120 minutes while being hopped with high-alpha American hops, whatever that means. They claim that this is the ultimate beer for hopheads, and we were pretty compelled by such a claim. Don’t be intimidated though, it isn’t what you’d think it to be.
Nose: Well, since you know this is the most alcoholic beer we’ve reviewed, you might suspect the nose to be a boozy event. Nevermind the thick, rich aromas, the flavors you’ll find include definite apple flavors coming through, with yeast flavors and bitterness and coming through. The booze notes don’t come through like we initially expected, but to compromise for that, there is some citrus flavor coming through. After more smelling, we felt the apple note came through very powerfully. The nose is crisp, attributed to the apple flavor, which begins to overpower the nose with its prominence. There is a small suggestion of pineapple to go along with the fruity notes. This nose will remind you of more of a pale ale than an imperial IPA, but we are determined to find more in the taste.
Arrival: The arrival is surprisingly light, with a suggestion of alcohol taste coming through. You’ll get a hint of sweetness, which might suggest that this beer isn’t what you’d expect out of an IPA. The arrival starts with a thin, flavorless entrance. It continues onto a lemon candy, slightly pine-like, and sweet arrival.
Body: The body is sort of eventless in the sense that it doesn’t hold much flavor or content. It is tart and runs off quickly. There is a slight suggestion of hops, pine, and pineapple, with some apple crispness coming through. There is a sourness that comes through in the body, partially due to the flavor of sour green apple that comes through on bigger gulps. There is a slight suggestion of bubblegum, attributed to an odd sugar characteristic that holds through on the body.
Finish: The finish is dry, long and crisp. There is a refreshing, mint-like flavor that comes through as the beer finishes. There is still some lemon-candy, sugary sweetness, almost akin to a modestly tart rock candy. There is still an odd sense of bubblegum, which we find as a playful oddity in this beer’s profile. There is something almost bread-like about the finish, which reminds you of a tough Italian white bread, which compliments but does not overpower the sweetness of the beer.
Final Comments: You might say there are some compelling notes present in this beer, but it certainly has a bit of an identity crisis. This doesn’t fit like an IPA, coming closer to a barleywine flavor style, probably due to its high alcohol content. This is to be expected, but it does make a person question why they are buying an IPA in the first place. Another fallacy is that this beer claims to be for the ultimate hophead, and we are going to say it is not. Not even remotely, in fact. This beer is for somebody looking for an interesting way to get drunk, albeit they’ll enjoy the taste while getting there. Finally, the price doesn’t encourage purchase. This definitely weighs in as a novelty item, and what Dogfish Head should do is strive to bring out more complexity and hoppiness to the beer, so people feel like they’re actually buying an IPA.
Why you’d buy it: You just won a lot of money by gambling, and want to show off that you have nothing better to do with it.
Why you wouldn’t: There are better barleywines out there for less cost, and there are better IPAs out there for less cost.