Dogfish Head 60s and 90s and 120, Oh My

Well it had to happen.  I knew what I was going to do last December when my Brother sent them.  Around Christmas time last year my Brother and I began trading beer.  I had sent him some brews that he couldn’t get, and vice versa.  It started out as a Christmas gifty kind of thing, and has since blossomed into all out trading.  But in that first batch my brother sent I had asked for some offerings from Dogfish Head.  So Jim obliged and sent me a horizontal flight of their IPAs.  The 60, 90, and 120 minute IPAs were things of legend here in the west, so I was very intrigued, and excited to receive them.  But when to drink them?  See I had a bunch of Christmas brews to make my way through, and I also had a ton of stouts, and frankly we were in the middle of stout season, and I wasn’t much into the IPA thing that time of year, so they sat for a while.  Well, I have begun to drink lighter beers now, not because it is warmer, because Winter seems to have some sort of icy grip on us out west this year, but more because I want Summer to appear.  I guess my thoughts are if I can’t have warm weather, at least I can drink warm weather drinks in anticipation of better temps.

So these IPAs are quirky little beers, and I must say the slogan for Dogfish Head is spot on; “off centered ales for off centered people!”  I added the exclamation point for emphasis, because these beers live up to their slogan…

The 60 minute IPA is perhaps the tamest of the bunch, and weighs in at a nice 6% ABV.  This is the closest we get to a “normal” IPA.  The pour was a nice deep golden color with a thin white head.  Lots of lacing on this one, a sign of a quality beer.  The flavor was big for a 6% beer.  It had a great hops forward profile with a nice earthiness and enough bitterness to stick on your palate, but not be overwhelming.  Underneath in a corner somewhere was a nice sweetness that came through as well.  Not like a lager sweetness, but more of sweetbread, like hot cross buns on a Christmas morning kind of sweetness.  More on this later!

All in all a very nice IPA, well crafted and great quality brew.

The 90 Minute IPA Poured a beautiful deep golden amber color with about a one finger white head that dissipated rather quickly.  It too left a lot of lacing on the glass as I drank it.  This had a big earthy nose with a lot of citrus and almost a raisin like quality to it.  The flavor was big and a bit intense as the ABV went from 6 to 9% in the 90 Minute.  It starts out sweet on the palate, and obviously there are a lot of hops here, but they seem to transcend bitterness and are a bit more like a sweet and citrusy punch in the brew rather than the big fruity bitter flavors that often come from using a huge amount of hops.  It is still a very drinkable brew and it actually went down easy.  The alcohol while not hidden at all is well integrated into the flavor of the beer and gives a warming sensation as you drink it.  That earthy quality was in the flavor as well, and made for a very pleasing drink experience.

Finally, the Mother of all IPAs!  The Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA.  20% ABV and enough hops to make your head explode!  120 Minute continuous boil that is continually hopped during the boil, and then it is dry hopped and aged for the next 30 days!  Man was I looking forward to this, I was expecting this to blow me away into a hop laden nirvana that would magically transform me into a DFH believer.  A disciple of Sam Coligaligligione or however the hell you spell and say his name.  The Lord and Master of all hop heads.  I actually heard Angels sing when I opened the bottle! This was the moment I had waited all my young beer drinking life to experience…

Meh.  I didn’t like it!  How could this be?  The moment I had waited and anticipated for so long was a complete bust.  Maybe it is because I am kinda new at this whole craft beer thing but I couldn’t take it.  Perhaps it was just laden with too much awesomeness for me, but I was overwhelmed to the point of YUK.  This stuff was gross.  I couldn’t take it.  The pour was really cool, zero head and a hazy amber brew.  Its nose was big and sweet, but the flavor was like drinking sugar laden alcohol to the point of just ewww.  I couldn’t make it work for me.  I thought it tasted almost like a desert wine, it was so sweet, and perhaps that is what threw me.  It was a little like drinking Aunt Jemima Syrup out of the bottle.  It had a huge pucker factor that I didn’t expect, and couldn’t get past.

The worst part of the whole experience was that I felt that some how I had failed.  That I didn’t understand how great this was supposed to be, and I wasn’t let into the club.  The club of awesome beer drinkers that think 120 is incredible.  I’m not one of you.  I don’t get to learn the secret hand shake, or get to come to your really cool parties.  I just don’t belong…

Oh Sam Kilgoralongianione How come you made this awesome brew that is so exclusive?  I’ve been turned away at the door.  I just don’t get it.


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19 Comments on “Dogfish Head 60s and 90s and 120, Oh My”

  1. May 6, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I feel the same way about the 120. The 90 is brilliant, 60 is great, but the 120 is meh. An important thing to try once, but for the price did not do nearly what I had hoped…

  2. May 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Don’t feel bad, Don! I think HUGE beers are a overrated. I agree totally that it is a dessert beer. Next time I pick up a bottle of 120 minute, I’ll save it till i can split it 6 ways, and sip it like brandy or a sweet dessert wine.

    It’s beer, yeah, but it’s hard for me to think of the 120 minute as beer. I think the hype that surround these huge beers forces folks to state they are superb for fear of castration from the community. Don’t get me wrong. I like 120 minute…but only once every year or so

  3. May 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    I look at the 120 as more of a boozy, cloying barleywine as far as the flavor profile goes, and that makes it taste okay to me. Still, this is a “stunt beer,” one brewed to push the limits of what beer can deliver and what the drinker can handle (or I should say the amount they can handle before falling over).

    When you get in the mood for a 120, you really enjoy a 120. It’s just a matter of screwing up your courage to pop one open. It’s a beer that I’m glad exists even if it’s not one of my favorites.

    All in all, DFH and Sam Calagione (seriously, not that hard to spell) are heroes in my book, brewers with the guts to be weird and swing for the fences. I love them for that.

  4. Don
    May 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    @Brian I couldn’t get into it. I agree about the 60 and the 90, but the 120 was overwhelming.

    @Nate I agree, perhaps if I had served it differently, or even knew what to expect I might have approached it in a way that made it better, but to my way of thinking this isn’t a beer I would just crack open to drink…ever.

  5. Don
    May 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Jim, I heard you say that to the poor guy yesterday that you said should buy some of his friends 120. He better consider why his friend wants to sell it. Not because it is awesome, but because it is undrinkable. I too agree that Sam Colgiateliongnerine is a beer genius, but he is an evil genius where the 120 is concerned.

  6. May 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    Don! You are not alone!

    I greatly enjoy the 60-minute. The 90 is my favorite of the bunch. But a couple years back, I found the elusive 120 while visiting family back in Texas. The label says IPA. The taste does not. Or rather, the taste isn’t inline with what one normally expects of an IPA or an Imperial IPA. I recall my thoughts during my first sip: “Holy *(&^!!! What was that!?!” It was sweet, almost as if I were drinking a beer/mead blend. Now that I know what to expect, I will probably drink it like a brandy (thanks for the idea, Nate) with friends… with desert.

    More about expectations… when I was younger, and had some dental work that required I be on liquids for a day or so, my mother would supply me with a couple milk shakes a day (Braum’s is the bomb for those of you within 300 miles of Tuttle, OK). She thought she’d surprise me with a chocolate banana when I was expecting plain chocolate. Well, I like the chocolate banana combo, but the shake tasted nasty because I had no idea it had bananas in it. I was expecting plain chocolate. Bottom line: Expectations can ruin the taste of something rather tasty.

    • Don
      May 6, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

      Well Big Tex, I’m glad I’m not the only one left behind in the dust. I guess i just wasn’t meant to understand the magic and madness that is Sam Calgonigone.

  7. May 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    I feel the same as you guys. The 120 is something you have to try once, but it’s not my cup of tea. Like Nate said, I’ll only get it again if I split it with a few people. The 90 minute however, is a gift from Sam Calajigogne ; )

    • Don
      May 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

      I can tell you are a close personal friend of Mr. Calidoscopione. I loved the 90, and the 60 was actually quite good, and maybe even sessionable if you don’t have more than 2. but that 120, that’s rough stuff. Jim was mad that I poured a $9.00 beer down the sink, but that made me feel even better about it.

    • May 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

      That’s exactly right, Billy – you have to try it once. My buddy Frank likes 120 and buys it pretty regularly. I hardly ever buy it, but I love DFH’s swagger with the beers they brew, even if not all of them hit the spot for me personally. Some folks love 120. I’m just glad that Sam Caligula has the balls to brew and sell it.

  8. May 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Don, don’t feel bad. My first IPA was the 60 and it scared me off of the style for about two years! I’m just starting to dabble in IPAs – but I doubt I’d even bother with the 120. Certified IPA wimp here!

    • Don
      May 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

      Yeah Scott, but we expect that from you. I have a budding reputation to uphold, and I think I just didn’t do it. Just Kidding. But it was a huge let down that I didn’t get the awesomeness and had to pour it out. I felt like a kid that was just rejected by a girl I asked out to the dance. The whole experience just didn’t sit well with me. Sam Colgateionignge just dumped me.

    • May 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

      I’m actually not a big fan of any of the DFH IPA’s – they’re all too hoppy and earthy/funky for me. I had a 60 early on in my beer career and didn’t really care for it. I could see how it’d scare you away from IPA’s in general. I’ve come to enjoy it on tap, but that’s a rare treat for me.

      Give Victory Hop Devil a whirl, Scott. Even the waitresses at the brewery say it’s their favorite, so you should certainly be manly enough to enjoy it, too. 😉

  9. May 7, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Thanks guys for the tips. Just last night I had an IPA from Long Trail and it was drinkable but I think I still have a way to go before its a style that I can really enjoy. I’m going to Total Wine tonight actually, so maybe I’ll give the Hop Devil a try and I’m going to get a bottle of this Dragon’s Milk you seem to be hoarding as well!

    • Don
      May 7, 2010 at 9:27 am #

      Oh Scott the Dragon’s Milk will change the way you view beer forever. It is like having swill your whole life, then trying Fillet, and realizing you’ve been eating swill your whole life.

  10. May 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    I actually like swill. My momma makes the best swill. Sniff, sniff. I’ll never eat Fillet Don – I just don’t want to know.

    • Don
      May 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

      Swill is manly, Scott.

  11. May 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    I’m a fan of the whole line-up. I like the 120 but couldn’t do it more than once or twice a month. The 60 is so clean and good. 90…need I say more? I normally don’t site other people’s opinions but 90 min was rated best beer by Zymurgy readers two years in a row. What a great beer. I’ve got a couple 120s just chilling for about 10 years. I can’t wait to see how the beer does over time.

    • May 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

      I think the 120’s will be great over time. I’d also like to it them oaked.

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