It is an understatement to say that Dogfish Head is an interesting brewery. They're one of the largest craft brewers in America but yet there may be no brewery today that exhibits such a dedication to experimentation and boundary pushing.
Founded by Sam Calagione in 1995 as a brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Dogfish Head expanded and moved to a 100,000 square foot facility in nearby Milton, DE in 2002. Their commitment to the unconventional (exemplified by their motto, "Off-Centered Ales For Off-Centered People") extends to their line of IPAs, as we learned.
To see (and taste) Dogfish Head's unique approach to brewing, we tasted their "Minutes"; a line of IPAs named for the number of minutes they're boiled and continuously hopped for. Ranging from the 6% 60 Minute IPA to the 18% 120 Minute IPA, our tasting covered a lot of ground in terms of flavors, techniques, and alcohol. Read on to see our tasting notes and add your own in the comments below!
We began our Minutes tasting with the Dogfish Head's best selling beer, the 60 Minute IPA. The mildly cloudy varnish color nearly matched our tasting table and fine bead bubbles clung to the side of our glasses. The 60 minutes of continuous hopping with "Northwest hops" contributed to sweet aroma of apricot and pear and We were reminded of a Riesling. The beer didn't taste as sweet as it smelled and instead we got notes pungent grapefruit pith with a slight bitterness.
Similar to the 60 Minute IPA but with the intriguing inclusion of syrah grape must, the beer appeared as a watery purple in the glass and reminded us of grape ginger ale or hibiscus tea. The grape must gave the Sixty-One an aroma that reminded some of a rich cocktail made with sweet vermouth. Others smelled plum and hibiscus. The beer felt slightly attenuated on the tongue with a sweet finish, and had an almost ice tea taste to it. The hibiscus flavors we noticed earlier where also present in the taste.
The 75 Minute IPA is not brewed for 75 Minutes but is instead a blend of the 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA that is bottle conditioned with maple syrup. The beer had the appearance of a good apple cider; hazy and autumnal looking. There were faint maple notes along with aromas that reminded us of decaying leaves, pineapple, or, a scented candle. The 75 Minute did give off a slightly hot and alcoholic scent. Much thicker in body than the 60 or Sixty-One, the 75 had a dark sugary richness that we enjoyed, reminding us of a caramelized pineapple.
The 90 Minute IPA, which debuted in 2001, was the first beer that Dogfish Head continuously hopped. Our pour of this beer exhibited a bright and clear light varnish color. The aroma was strongly of bubblegum, but also reminded us of a New American Gin; citrusy and botanical. Only slightly bitter, the 90 Minute IPA had a boozy sweetness that tasted of maple and golden raisin.
A cult favorite, the 120 Minute IPA is a monster. Ranging between 15% and 20% ABV (our bottle clocked in at 18%), Dogfish Head claims the 120 Minute IPA is the strongest IPA in the world. The beer is dry hopped daily in a fermenter for a month then aged for an additional month on whole leaf hops. Despite all the hopping, we didn't find the beer to be particularly hoppy in the nose or mouth. We felt the appearance was described as copper or dried orange peel. The aroma of the beer was intense; we variously smelled baked raisins, Sharpie marker, sweet mimosa, or a Screwdriver cocktail. We all agreed that the dominant aroma was alcohol. The taste was similar to that of a hopped barleywine. Very sweet and very boozy, this beer would be an excellent candidate for aging, which would take the edge off the booziness and better highlight the raisin and orange aromas.