Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA
Currently #91 on the RateBeer.com Top 100 Best Beers in the World, the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is an IPA force to be reckoned with. This is another in a series of Thursday evening reviews between Father and Son Beer Love, but this one wasn’t a phone review, it was our first ever video review. That’s right we got Father and Son Beer Love hooked up through the miracle of iChat so we can just sit in front of our Macs and talk and see each other. How great is that?
For those who don’t know, the story of the India Pale Ale (IPA) is quite interesting. For starters as a category, IPAs are classified as a sparkling pale ale with a little bit more alcohol and hops than a typical Pale Ale. A Pale Ale is called that because it generally uses ale yeast and mostly pale malts. In the IPA the extra alcohol gives it a little kick and the extra hops give it a very distinctive bitterness – this bitterness is almost exclusively the defining characteristic of the style. British brewers invented the IPA in the 1700’s to solve the problem of keeping beer fresh on long sea voyages in hot climates, to places like India and Africa. These trips were torture on beer (and the crew no doubt) and beer tended to spoil, becoming sour and flat. You’ve got to remember that pasteurization wasn’t invented until the 1860’s and refrigeration wasn’t a viable option so alcohol and hops were all you had to fight spoiled beer (they prevent bacteria growth). With the invention of the IPA long travel and hot climates were no longer a problem and the British brewers could ship beer all the way to India and it would still be fresh, 6 months plus later.
Back to our beer, the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, which is classified as an Imperial or Double IPA. It’s called a 90 minute IPA because the boil time of the wort in which the hops are added (continuously, mind you) is 90 minutes. More boil time on the hops means more bitterness. They also make a 60 minute and 120 minute IPA following this same process that are less bitter and more bitter, respectively. It’s brewed in Milton, DE by the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and our 12 oz bottle comes in at 9% ABV and 90 IBUs. Our bottled on date was May 2, 2007. I don’t think we have to worry about this one going bad.
We poured it into a tulip glass and got a beer temperature of 52 F. The initial pour yielded an average 1 1/4″ white fizzy head that gave us a fair amount of lacing. It’s got a medium amount of carbonation and the body is fairly clear and a nice amber color. The initial pour gave us a number of aromas – mainly caramel, sherry, earth and spices and of course a lot of hop aromas – citrus, floral, grass, herb and pine.
The initial flavor is a moderate sweet and a heavy bitter and that stayed true through the finish. Hell, it’s an IPA, what did you expect? In addition to the aroma notes above we also picked up some honey later in the taste. It’s really a beautiful complex mixture of tastes. There was surprisingly no alcohol in the taste, but the alcohol does hit you – it’s very strong and potent. The taste became very nice as it warmed – it’s definitely a taste bud tickler. There’s really no “hop shock” to speak of and though it’s hoppy, the balance saves it. It edges just a little, but not too far, towards the hoppy side on the patented BeerFathers malt to hop scale. The finish duration is long, the mouthfeel is oily and there was a fair amount of body lacing.
Neither Father nor Son Beer Love are hopheads, but this is a great hop beer. It’s not necessarily repeatable, or rather you probably shouldn’t have another one though you may want it (high gravity, you see). It was, however, very drinkable, very memorable, had a great wow factor and we would definitely buy it again. We feel the main thing about it this beer is the balance. It’s just extremely balanced, especially considering how complex it is, and it becomes so wonderful as it warms into the 60s. We don’t have a lot of IPAs in our ratings to compare it to so we’ve given it a 7 as is. When we have other IPAs to compare it to we may come in and adjust the rating. For now you need to get this beer and try it. If you love hoppy beers (do you like Sam Adams?) then you’ll fall in love with this one. And even if you’re not a known hophead, there’s still something in here for you and you should be able to appreciate this for the wonderfully unique beer it is.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA Rating: 7 out of 10 (?)
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