Sunday, July 31, 2011

120 Minutes To Freedom

120 Minutes To Freedom

Forget 40oz, when you're searching for that perfect escape to freedom you probably should look to something that comes in at 18% alcohol by volume. I don't mean the hard liquor either. What I'm looking to is Dogfish Head's thrice annual release of 120 Minute IPA.

When it comes to Dogfish Head, you have many options in the number of minutes of your IPA. Both 60 and 90 is out there, but it's the 120 Minute IPA that will get you where you need to go.

If you're familiar with the now canceled Discovery Channel show Brew Masters, you will know that Dogfish Head's founder Sam Calagione will tell you that beer is simple stuff. Just mix in water, hops, malt and yeast... In the case of 120 minute IPA, you gotta add a lot of those things to make it a big and bold high gravity beer.

The 120 also represents the IBU's that you'll get out of this beer. For those of you who aren't beer snobs, IBU means international bitterness units. So it's the measurement of how bitter something is. The higher the IBU, generally the higher the bitterness is. So if you're after that hoppy taste in beer, you generally want to see that number up there.

Though I say generally a higher IBU means a higher bitterness to the beer, but in the case of this beer you'll be surprised to know that it's really not that bitter. In fact, it's actually really sweet. If you've ever had Russian River's Pliny the Younger or Brewdog Tokyo you'll see that the higher the alcohol by volume, you'll most likely have a sweeter tasting beer.

The reason for this sweeter taste even though you have a massive amount of IBU's is because when your goal is to reach a high alcohol content like this you will end up with a lot more unfermentable sugars that will go on to create a sweeter beer. In the case of 120 Minute IPA, you're looking at around an 18% ABV. This has pushed Dogfish Head to advise folks NOT to finish a whole bottle by themselves.

For one thing, with how sweet it is you wont even realize how much alcohol you have consumed. And for another thing, that's

So the question now remains on how does this beer taste? Well, sweet for one thing. Which is really odd when you're drinking an Imperial IPA. When you're taking a swig of it, you're sort of expecting those hoppy characteristics. You want to get that bitterness that the 120 IBU advertises but you really don't. That's not to say it's a bad thing. You should just realize that this isn't going to be a hopheads hop bomb.

You'll definitely get a flavor full of the citrus that you come to expect when drinking an IPA. In fact, you'll probably taste all those flavors that you would get in an IPA, but it's just masked by a large punch of sweetness in your face.

The nice thing about this beer is that you can lay it down and cellar it. Yeah, that may sound a bit odd to treat beer like wine and cellar it, especially when you have adverts from Coors and Bud telling you the born on date and how fresh and cold to drink it. But when it comes to higher abv beers, you can lay them down and over time they'll develop a lot of different characteristics.

In the situation with IPA's, you're automatically going to see the hop notes take a backseat and mellow out. That's normal.

While you'll have your chance to get some 120 minute IPA today from 38 Degrees in Alhambra, Ca, Yesterday The Far Bar in Little Tokyo just tapped their keg with very little hype behind it during their IPA weekend.

It really reminded me of the Pliny the Younger situation. All over town places like Verdugo Bar and Surly Goat were making big events out of the tapping of that monster IPA and creating lines for it that were a good hour or more long. All the while places like Father's Office didn't mention anything about it and just tapped it.

Even better, they gave out a bigger pour. A full 8oz per pour where the 38 Degree release will be 5oz pours. Apparently this wasn't well known as they are reporting that they had some left for Day 2 of the IPA festival.

For my money, if you're a hophead looking for that dare of bitterness to your mouth, I would go with Stone's Ruination IPA. It clocks in at around 100 IBU's and you are going to know it's 100 IBU's when you drink it. Other viable options would be Ballast Point's Sculpin or Bootleggers Brewery Knuckle Sandwich

That's not to say 120 Minute IPA is bad at all, It really isn't. It's just a different beast altogether which you should still check off your bucket list of beers to try. You'll get a slap across your face of sweetness and not hoppiness.

Over all, it's well worth trying just to say you tried it. Also to realize how sweet it really is even though it has those high IBU levels. That in itself will surprise you. To be perfectly honest, I would buy a couple of these bottles if I saw them on the shelf. It may not be an everyday drink, but it cellars well and is great to show off a vastly different

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