[Author’s Note: August is the Dog(fish Head) days of Summer here at The Dogs of Beer. All throughout the month I’ll be looking exclusively at the beers from DFH.]
Well I had things kind of in order for what’s coming up in the following weeks but for some reason nature doesn’t seem to like. The pictures I was going to use for the first three posts of the Dogfish Days of Summer are still stuck in a phone that mysteriously died while simply sitting on my night stand. Media backup you say? Yeah. One day I’ll have to find where that is and clean it up, because I get a notification every day when it tries to sync. Apparently it’s full. Of what I have no idea.
Luckily I realized that tomorrow (today as you’re reading this) is IPA day, so doing the post I was going to do (you know, the one with the picture I don’t have) wouldn’t have been appropriate (really, who wants to read about Positive Contact on IPA Day?) anyway. So with all that useless chatter out of the way, let’s tip a hat to IPA Day by taking a quick look at DFH’s continuously hopped series. NOTE: I’m not including Sixty-One in this review because it’s kind of a beer unto itself and I already reviewed it.
It all started in April of 2001 when DFH introduced the interestingly named 90-Minute IPA (yep, 90 came first), a beer that boasted a continuous hop addition during the entire length of the 90 minute wort boil. DFH maintained that the continuous hopping would make for a more pungent and complex hop flavor/aroma then with traditional scheduled hopping.
To facilitate the continuous hopping, DFH turned to a complex piece of equipment, that old football game some of us had when we were young. You remember, the one that would vibrate and make the players move? You ‘member? You ‘member! The beer turned out to be very well received and in the following years DFH released other “durations” and variations on the continuously hopped theme.
THEM: Just a quick word here to keep in mind for the rest of the month – DFH is kind of an odd duck in that they will go out of their way to tell you about all the bizarre stuff they put in their beers, but mention almost nothing about the base ingredients. And it’s kind of the same with their “normal” beers. They don’t seem the need to expound upon what’s being put in the bottle. I sent an Email to the brewery asking if anyone want to answer questions about the beers I’d be reviewing this month. But so far it looks like I’m on my own.
Jamil Zainasheff in a Brewing Network show said that one-time DFH brew master Andy Tveekrem stated in an interview that the hops used in 120-Minute IPA were a blend of Warrior, Simcoe and Amarillo. Looking at recipes for clones of 60 and 90-Minute there seems to be a lot of consensus that these hops feature heavily in both of those beers as well.
This is probably the beer that most people think about when they think DFH, and with good reason. 60M pours an amber color with an awesome white, fluffy head that just doesn’t go away. The hops are apparent, but the beer is very smooth and easy drinking. Notes of citrus and grass take center stage against a light malt background. There’s no unrealized hype in this bottle. 60M deserves every accolade it gets.
Interestingly I find the nose of 90M more subdued that 60M, with the 60M having a slightly more grassy edge, and the 90M having more of the malt peek through. There’s more of a spice and hop crispness on the tongue with the 90M but make no mistake, this is one easy drinking beer for a glass with all those hops and 9% ABV in it. The malt peaks through more than the 60M, which doesn’t surprise because as you go up in ABV and IBU you need more on the other side of the seesaw to balance it all out.
In my opinion, 75-Minute IPA is a case of a brewery not leaving well enough alone. The beer itself is simply a blend of the 60 and 90 together which was then casked (usually with a cascade dry hop) and served through a beer engine. And IT WAS GREAT! Oh yeah, British Beer and Beer Culture enthusiast DING would probably state that the ABV and hop levels are too high to make this a truly cask-worthy beer, and I might agree with that – if I didn’t like drinking it so.freakin.much! Two Stones had it on regularly and I never missed a chance to have a pint of it. And everything was happy….until…..DFH decided to bottle it. I guess so many people enjoyed it, that they assumed it would be a good thing to make it more available to everyone. According to Sam the beer is no longer a blend, but the result of a 75 minute continual hop process. Maple syrup is added just before bottling to add a touch of extra complexity and to naturally carbonate the beer in the bottle. Sadly, I haven’t see 75-Minute on cask since they’ve begun bottling it.
I miss the cask version. Just sayin’. As I’m sipping it compared to the other two (yeah, I’m useless at this point and I haven’t even gotten to the 120M yet) I definitely taste an extra something in the 75M. There’s a touch of sweetness that the other two didn’t have and almost a sense of tea on my tongue. There’s also something in the nose that takes this to a slightly different place than 60M or 90M, maybe a touch more citrus? I almost want to say lemons. I’m going to say it, of the three so far, I’m giving the nose to 75M, a slight nod to flavor to the 60M (although damn the 75 is good) and drinkability is dealer’s choice here.
When I caught wind of 120 that’s when the wheels in the old head started turning. “Sooner or later”, said I, “DFH is going to get to a point where this whole thing is just going to take a sharp turn.” And sure enough, it was with 120-Minute. This is just in a class all by itself, You just have to decide if you want to take the class or transfer to an easier course. First, there’s more pine/resin in the nose in 120M than any of the other three. There’s also a huge amount of backbone here that comes across to me as honey. It’s no surprise that DFH had to hump this up to balance out the 15-20% ABV and the 120 IBU and in doing so, almost walked 120M right out of the beer category. For a wine comparison DFH suggests that it’s more like Whisky than wine, but with its in-your-face sweetness, slight spice, and touch of alcohol (oh yeah, this beer is flaunting it all out there for everyone to see) , I’d say that it drinks more like a port.
So what have we learned (other than tasting all four continuously hopped beers in one night will make your slightly “off center”)? Well, I think this – DFH is always going to get attention for all the “bizarre” stuff they do, the ancient ales, the wine hybrids, etc. But with all that, one should never forget that they built their company on producing rock solid everyday beers, and the continuously hopped IPA series is definitely part of that equation. If you ever make it to our fine little state, make sure you pick some up.
And now, the first ever tDoB ratings (remember: keg, case, 6/4-Pack, glass or taster). Sound the trumpets!!
60 Minute- Going full case here. There’s nothing in this beer that an IPA lover should find “off”. Really it drinks like chocolate milk it’s so smooth. I’m actually embarrassed to say I probably haven’t had one of these in almost a year. I won’t be waiting that long for another one.
90 Minute – Six/Four Pack. Of the four, it ended up being my least fave (but we’re talking by a very small margin), but that doesn’t mean you won’t love it. Just make sure before you invest big.
75 Minute – Case. Slight touch of sweetness and a bit more citrus than 60M and 90M, this is just a damn good beer. Grab a 750mL bottle and see for yourself. And yes, I still miss the cask.
120 Minute – And now we find out why rating systems are suspect. From a purely ranking endeavor this should be a case. This thing just rocks. But since this isn’t your mom’s IPA I’m going to give it a TASTER – especially at $10 for a 12oz bottle. Really, find out if it’s your glass of beer for free if you can. If you love it, it’s well worth the price for an occasional treat.
Time for another beer….but this time only one.