Dogfish Head Brewery : 90 Minute Imperial IPA
Proof that amazing things can come in small packages, this week’s beer comes from the town of Milton, Delaware, population about 2,600 people (thank you Wikipedia). In stark contrast relative to the size of their home-town, Dogfish Head Brewery has a reputation of continental proportions. Sadly, the crew at DFH announced in 2011 that they were pulling their Canadian and UK exports, but they’re doing it in the name of planned, balanced growth that will allow them to stick to their beliefs and brewing philosophies, so, it’s hard to fault them for that, and hopefully they’ll be back soon. Plus, if you live within a stone’s throw of the 49th parallel (as roughly 80% of us Canucks do), they’re just another beauty to add to your cross border shopping list!
DFH are well known for experimental, wild, crazy beers, including a line of “Ancient Ales” for which the recipes are based off of chemical analysis of archeological pottery residue, including pottery found in King Midas’s tomb and a recipe from central China dating back some 9,000+ years (no, seriously. See this is why science is awesome), and Pangaea, a beer that boasts ingredients from all 7 continents (yes, even Antarctica). They are equally well known for their year-round brews, especially one 90 Minute Imperial IPA (a series which also includes a 60 Minute IPA, a 120 Minute Imperial IPA and a 75 Minute cask-conditioned blend of the 60 & 90).
Taking the time to pull 90 Minute out of the fridge a little early is worth it – you’ll get several fingers of great frothy off-white head on your amber-orange beer and the flavours really shine as the beer warms a touch form cold to cool. Founder Sam Calagione recommends this beer in a snifter, but any big-bowled glass will do (something that will contain and concentrate the aromatics), a timely suggestion to get the most out of this deep floral, sweet fruity, toffee nose with subtle round piney traces.
The flavour profile on this beer is really something, uniquely created by the continual addition of hops for a full 90 minutes during the boil, and further dry hopped during conditioning. The explanation is how they basically designed the system after an old-school vibrating football game is pretty awesomely MacGyver (see the video on the 90 Minute page - Science is Awesome #2!). The first flavour we pick up is a gentle coffee / dark chocolate bitterness, then rich sweet malts with further suggestions of pine, toffee and burnt sugar, followed by a deep, dense floralness you don’t seen the likes of in too many beers. Accompanying and likely influenced by the strong malt is a round, mango-like smooth sweetness, which helps to balance out the heavy hops, but even brandishing 90 IBU’s this isn’t just a bitter hop blast, it is a well-crafted, balanced IPA experience. At 9% this brew packs a fair wallop, but the flavours only get more interesting as it warms so it is a beer you can feel free to take your time with, and the alcohol gives a pleasant warming as you sit and sip your beer and ponder the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything….
As we mentioned, currently not exported to Canada, but worth a pick up if you happen to leave the Great White North to spend a little time with our cousins to the South.
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