The Halftime Pint: Dogfish Head 90 Minute

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Traveling- made dignified. (credit: Keith. Srsly, we make our own stuff from time to time)

One of the greater things about watching football in America is that most matches, especially those of the EPL, are early in the morning American time, giving people an excuse to daydrink. This is part of our series discussing exactly what to drink when you’re at the pub, presented by our resident homebrewer, Keith.

The beer: Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Delaware

The pub: the Amtrak northeast regional train from DC to New York. I was following the scores of the Saturday matches during my trip, so this counts.

What you need to know: India Pale Ale is a style originally developed by the Brits as a sea faring drink. The name comes from the extra hop additions that were necessary to make ale keep on a transcontinental sea journey to India. An “Imperial” IPA, meanwhile, is a rather new innovation- it’s an attempt for American brewers to push the envelope on both the hop and alcohol fronts- combining the high-gravity imperial stout with an amplification of the hops in an IPA.

90 Minute is one of Dogfish Head’s most well-known beers, up there in its series of “minute” beers (60 and 120 are the others).

So, About this beer: Most imperial IPAs are excuses for brewers to make a hop bomb, the better to attempt to cover the booziness of the beer. In Dogfish Head’s case, the hops are much more subtle than they could have been. The beer pours a hazy orange. The predominant aromas are citrus and cut grass from the hops. The taste is a very nice tug of war between the hop bitterness and the sweetness of the alcohol. The slight viscosity of the mouth feel is really nicely cut as well by the hops.

Verdict: 90 Minute gets a lot of hype; in its case, though, it’s entirely deserved. This is an absolutely delicious beer. I wouldn’t recommend drinking too many of these at once, because the alcohol level will put you below the bar before you know it. But I do recommend having it when you can.

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14 responses to “The Halftime Pint: Dogfish Head 90 Minute

  1. I don’t like the sheer number of Craft IPA brews that keep popping up in America. It’s not that good of a variety of beer.

    To all American Craft Breweries: Try something else.

  2. @stache: Seriously. IPA’s are just cheap and easy to make relative to other kinds of beer. Develop flavors? Uh, why don’t I just dump a shitload of hops in here? Lazy bastards.

  3. Philistines! IPAs are more expensive–more malt, more hops. Certainly, as Americans are wont to do, there’s a tendency to go overboard but in this case I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. It’s the one beer style that I drink regularly year round. That being said, I think I’m going to brew a bitter next and I’d agree that American brewers would be well served to add some quality session beers to their lineups. Also, if you can get Dogfish Head on Amtrak, it’s a damn shame that there aren’t trains everywhere–I’d love to travel long distances without driving and have the ability to get drunk while doing so.

  4. @Goat: So then why do they all make so many goddamn IPAs? If they cost more and taste shittier, what’s the point?

  5. @Lorber – because beer geeks love them and buy the crap out of them. It gives you instant superiority and clout to say, “Oh, you think that tastes shitty? Well, my refined palette loves the floral notes.” Even though the beer geeks have just had their tastebuds hop-bombed into oblivion. Give me some malt/hop balance, like a traditional pale ale or amber or a summer wheat beer.

  6. They sell well is exactly the reason. But there are some really fine representations of the style amongst the ridiculous hop bombs. Brooklyn East India Pale Ale (which is more British in style, and features more citric hops), Sixpoint Bengali Tiger (which is sharp, but not too overpowering), and Bear Republic Racer 5 are just a few of these.

    The main problem is that most American Pale Ales are much hoppier than their English bretheren, and so to make their IPAs distinctive, they’re over-hopped in kind. Basically, blame Sierra Nevada.

  7. Agreed that they make IPAs because they sell well. People wouldn’t buy them if they tasted shitty. Sure there are differences between American and British pales ales (and IPAs, and Brown Ales) but that doesn’t mean that one version is inherently better than the other. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for. American craft beer drinkers just tend to prefer hoppier beers in general, as do I. I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers but do enjoy them during the summer. Even though it’s not my favorite, I brewed one this summer with lemon and coriander that turned out really well for the style.
    I also don’t find that beer drinkers engage in some sort of pissing contest about who can drink the hoppier beer. I’m sure there’s an element of one-upsmanship involved in breweries trying to outdo each other in terms of brewing hoppy beers, though. But good IPAs, despite their hop content, are well-balanced. Just to give you an example–I recently brewed (after a 8-year or so hiatus from home brewing) an American pale ale (something like a Sierra Nevada). It was pretty hoppy (which wouldn’t be bad in and of itself) but wasn’t malty enough. It was fine enough but wasn’t a great beer as it wasn’t well balanced. Are there brewers that make piss-poor IPAs? Sure, but there are brewers that make shitty versions of all styles of beer.

  8. People wouldn’t buy them if they tasted shitty.

    Budweiser. QED.

    I also don’t find that beer drinkers engage in some sort of pissing contest about who can drink the hoppier beer

    Look at the Beer Advocate 100 sometime, and tell me how many Imperial IPAs, DIPAs, and straight IPAs there are compared to how many saisons, porters, bieres de garde, etc.

  9. Clearly Budweiser consumers and Pliny the Elder consumers are not the same folks. Craft beer drinkers won’t buy shitty craft beer.

    Even though IPAs dominate those types of lists, that’s more a reflection of American craft beer drinkers preferences. I’m sure most lists of the top beers in Germany would be dominated by lagers. That doesn’t mean that people who prefer IPAs think that people who prefer milk stouts or British pale ales are pussies.

  10. Maybe you’re just too old and refined (read as not surrounded by immature douchebags) if you don’t still see people having a pissing contest about their beer. I, personally, do not care for IPAs at all. But this is generally greeted by the IPA boosters (generally hipsters, though I do have several in my close group of friends) as me being a Philistine. It’s the same group of people who think you can’t love coffee unless you love expresso or machiattos. Or chocolate if it’s not super dark. I just don’t generally care for bitter things. To apply the wisdom of Immortal Technique, I like my wheat beer and Leines motherfucker. Mind your goddamn business.

  11. What Arkie said (even though I love espresso- and by the way, Arkie, it’s eSpresso- get it right or pay the price!).

    And I threw the Bud example up as an illustration that extrapolated outward, what sells isn’t always what’s best. Even in an indie microcosm of the market.

  12. I actually have friends that are interested in all sorts of styles of beer (one even brewed a Berliner Weisse!). But that doesn’t preclude me from observing “hop bro-ism” on the floors of beer festivals.

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