Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review #18 - Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

July 7, 2011

Prairie Moon comes through once again with the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA!

Yep, after searching high and low, putting my name on waiting lists and even having my roommate who is a chef at Whole Foods get his name on their list I was left with nothing but disappointment the day that Dogfish 120 came out.  It seemed as though there was no hope of finding it and I’d have to rely on my year and a half-old review to complete the The List, but then I wandered into Prairie Moon and Kyle, one of Evanston’s finest bartenders, looked right at me and said “Hey, look what we got.” as he pointed at the specials board. 

Sure enough, in big, chalky letters it said “Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA - $19/bottle”.  $19 was a bit more than I wanted to pay, especially considering that my roommate told me he would get it for $12 at Whole Foods, but what are you gonna do?  I missed my opportunity to buy in the store and the Moon only ended up with eight bottles, five of which were gone by the time I arrived.  This might have been my only chance to get a bottle of this batch.

Coincidentally, eight bottles was the allotment for my roommate’s Whole Foods store as well.  They were apparently promised two cases initially and then the rep showed up with two 4-packs instead, saying he couldn’t even get a bottle for himself (which I find hard to believe, but his point was clear).  That lack of 28 more bottles squeezed me out of the equation at the time.  However, a couple days later, when someone on the waiting list bailed I was able to secure another bottle for $12 which I intend on aging for a year or two.

So that leaves us here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights with just two beers left on the list – Founders Devil Dancer (which I am having an extraordinarily difficult time tracking down now that it has been released) and AleSmith YuleSmith (Summer) (which I am currently attempting to trade for).  If any of you out there have leads on them for me, let me know.

And with that, I think it is finally time to get to the review of Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA:

ABV: 18%
IBUs: 120
Brewery Location: Milton, Delaware
Style: American Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.86
My Beer Advocate Rating: B/3.65
Current Number of Reviews/Rank in the Top 20 on Beer Advocate:
Brewery Description: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
Bottled On: June 24, 2011

APPEARANCE:  (5 out of 5) The Dogfish 120 is an exceptional looking beer, which is somewhat surprising given its enormous ABV.  Most beers this big, even many of the more “normal” Double IPAs that we have already reviewed here on 20 Beers in 20 Nights, lack in the carbonation department.  The instant this beer is poured it becomes clear that that is not the case with the 120 Minute IPA.  Crystal clear in the pour, this beer is also a deep, dark copper with a pretty and fluffy half-inch head resting on top.  The lacing was spectacular, covering a solid 80% of the back side of the glass.  This is a very impressive looking beer. 

SMELL:  (2.5 out of 5) Unfortunately, the surprising look was balanced out by a surprisingly disappointing nose.  Just a hint of floral aroma was present as the beer was poured, but that seemed to vanish once the head finally receded.  This was a stark contrast to the bottle that I had in early 2010, which was rich with a whole array of aromas. 

TASTE:  (4 out of 5) This is an amazingly sweet beer.  As my bartender Kyle put it when he tried a sip “it tastes a little like a dessert wine mixed with coffee.”  He was right, the dessert wine flavors all came from the banana, apple, pine and dark fruit tastes along with a lot of sugar.  The coffee was far more subtle, but it lingered a bit on the back end providing some balance to what would have otherwise been far too sweet of a beer.  The 120 Minute is also a bit boozy, but by no means over the top, even at 18% ABV.

MOUTHFEEL: (3 out of 5) Sticky and smooth are the first two words that come to mind.  As I mentioned above, the carbonation is visible, but when it comes to the mouthfeel it is not as noticeable.  The sweet, mouthcoating stickiness is the most dominant feel here.

OVERALL:  (4 out of 5) For an 18%er this is a solidly drinkable beer.  That said, one is pretty much enough, or half of one.  I wanted to drink close to the full bottle for the purposes of this review, but the next bottle I have will probably be split with the woman as an after dinner drink.  By the end of the bottle, the sweetness is a little too much.  The Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, however, is certainly a unique beer.  It stands out as one of the more memorable beers from The List and I do look forward to tasting the cellared bottle next year sometime.

DRAWBACKS:  There is no need to get too involved in the drawbacks here, it is probably clear to anyone reading this that the sweetness was my biggest issue with the Dogfish 120.  I tend to enjoy dryer tasting drinks and in both the taste and the feel department the sweetness was too much.  Of the three beers that Dogfish Head managed to get on this list I still have to go with Burton Baton as my favorite.  In the end, though, uniqueness earns it a 4 out of 5 overall.

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