IPA

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA

75 Minute IPA Tasting Notes:

  • Appearance: Clear gold with huge fluffy head, excellent lace.
  • Aroma/Flavor: Aromatic hops, very floral with touches of citrus fruit. Sweet.
  • Mouthfeel: Soft carbonation,  very drinkable.
  • Overall: Even better than on draft, a must try.

Rating: A+

For the first time ever Dogfish Head has released their fabled 75 Minute IPA in bottles. Previously, this was a brewpub exclusive (though a regular one). Once a week a single cask was tapped and ran until it was gone (usually within a day). The cask version – sometimes referred to as Johnny Cask – was a special blend of 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA’s, and then finished and carbonated with maple syrup. Past beer events and festivals were able to occasionally procure a keg of “75 Minute IPA” which at the time was only the blend sans the maple. As such, Dogfish Head purists would scorn the 75 Minute kegs in favor of the more unique Johnny Cask. I was delighted that the bottled version would follow the Johnny Cask blueprint of using the maple syrup addition.

This is also one of the first Dogfish Head beers to use their new logoed 750ml bottles (the old ones had no logo and were shaped more like a bottle of champagne).

As a homebrewer I suppose that I preferred the old bottles, but as a fan of the brewery I am delighted with this new touch. The bottle is also slightly smaller at the base which ought to make these  easier to transport.

I have made the pilgrimage to visit Dogfish Head twice now, and both times the very first beer I ordered at the pub was the Johnny Cask. As such I have some experience with how this beer ought to taste, so let’s see how the new bottled version compares!

The most striking thing about this beer is the carbonation. Even with a gentle pour I was rewarded with 3 fingers of soft pillowy head. The white foam floats weightlessly atop a clear golden brew, and the retention is epic – I literally had to wait close to five minutes before drinking lest I don a foam mustache. Sticky thick lace gathers around my Duvel tulip beautifully. Yeah – the maple syrup is working its wonders on the carbonation here.

It is important to be aware that this beer is bottle conditioned – meaning that there will be some yeast sediment at the bottle of the bottle. So pour carefully, and leave the last ounce or two of beer in the bottle to prevent all of that yeast from spilling into your glass.

The aroma is definitely a blend of 60 and 90 Minute – you get the assertive citric punch that 90 Minute garners, as well as the more subtle and balanced malt-driven aspects of 60 Minute. With the addition of dry-hopping, this all Cascade brew is really rich in complexity. For those who don’t brew beer you may not realize that the timing of when hops are added during the boil of a beer will impact three elements: bitterness, flavor, and aroma. The earlier hops are added the more bitterness they will impart. Towards the middle of the boil flavor becomes the predominant quality the hops bring to the table. Finally, the hops added during the last minutes will impart mostly aroma. It is the skillful science of knowing just when to add your hops that make your favorite IPA’s so great. The philosophy at Dogfish Head is that if hops are added in small amounts throughout every moment of the boil, you’ll extract every possible nuance that the hops are able to impart. And, while it may not be entirely evident to some, I truly feel that the Dogfish Head IPA’s exhibit complexity that few, if any, other beers can match.

So, when you dig into the aroma of 75 Minute IPA you begin to notice all of this wonderful complexity. Very floral – the hops have imparted a bouquet of soft and delicate sweet honeysuckle and clover honey. The beer is awash with citrus notes as well. Faint sweet grapefruit and tangerine are predominant, as is a much more subtle lemon aspect. The malt has a crackery white bread aroma to it. Definitely a wonderful beer to just stick your whole nose into the glass and savor the aroma.

The flavor is every bit as wonderful as the aroma is. Floral hops dance over the palate along side a bitterness that I can only describe as juicy and balanced. Sweetness is deliciously evident, and it is terribly difficult to pinpoint the source. I truly feel that the hops are adding some amount of the notion of sweetness, but most of it ought to be derived from the malts. The maple syrup is also a possible contributor, though most of it ought to have fermented out during the bottle conditioning phase. In any case, combined with the soft creamy carbonation, 75 Minute IPA is proving to be a delightful beer to enjoy.

Overall I am sincerely impressed. I actually want to say that this is even better than I remembered it at the brewery (though I do feel that cask beers lose out somewhat in the aroma department given the large lack of carbonation to help carry it to the nose and over the palate). My biggest complaint, well, my only complaint, is that this is sold in 750ml bottles. I was really anticipating this being sold as a 4 pack when it was announced last year that it would be bottled. And while $7.99 is the cheapest 750ml bottle that Dogfish Head sells, I do feel that it ought to be slightly cheaper. In any case – a truly excellent beer and well worth the effort to find one (or three). Well done Dogfish Head.

Categories: Beer Reviews, IPA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sixpoint Bengali Tiger

Earlier this month Sixpoint Brewing Company out of Brooklyn, NY announced that they were entering Ohio. Since then all of the bars and stores that I follow have been flooded with Sixpoint brews. Happily, they have been sending Ohio a large portion of their portfolio as well as a few enticing one-off kegs here and there. Perhaps even more interesting to some people is that fact that Sixpoint is one of the few craft breweries that cans all of their lineup.

To add some insight to those who think that they prefer bottles: cans are cheaper for the brewery if they have the equipment and the demand to justify ordering large supplies of aluminum. More importantly, cans mean that the beer never is exposed to light until it is opened. Light (especially sunlight and florescent light) is the biggest factor in “off” flavored beer – I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the skunky flavor and aroma of Corona or an imported European  lager. Why is this? These beers are typically packaged in clear or green glass – both of which allow a significant amount of light to penetrate the bottle and react with compounds in the beer (namely the hops).

As such, cans should taste fresher. The beer ought to keep longer too, as there is no risk of leakage/oxidation. Plus, cans don’t break as easily, and are more portable for those that hike, camp, or golf. Ready to love the can yet? Well, I’ll admit that knowing all of the above, I still prefer the aesthetic of a bottle. However, let the beer do the real talking. If it tastes good, ultimately who cares what vessel it was poured out of?

So… onto my review for tonight: Bengali Tiger. This is arguably their best-known beer – and as an IPA, it very well ought to be. Dry hopped and bittered to the tune of 62 IBU’s (a little on the bitter side of an IPA). Poured into a pint as this tall boy wouldn’t all fit into a smaller vessel.

The Review

Best by Date: 5/07/2012

Perhaps what I miss most with a can is the lack of the crisp hiss of escaping carbonation that comes with a bottle. While pouring the beer appears relatively clear with a slow-rising head of off-white foam. The golden liquid in my glass isn’t cloudy, but does have the unfiltered look that is welcome in a heartily hopped brew. Leaves excellent lace. Just watch when you pour as there will be some sediment at the bottom of the can.

The aroma is wholly unique for the average American IPA. There’s a very apparent malt backbone – but rather than the caramel/bready notes that some IPA’s exhibit, Bengali Tiger is chock full of moist sourdough and white bread. Then the hops push through in the form of mild pine resin and white grapefruit.

As you sip on this heady IPA you’ll find Bengali Tiger to be quite bitter, but well balanced with heavy golden malt additions. Crackery with a huge pithy kick to it from all the hops. Mild grassy undertones likely from the dry-hopping schedule. The mouthfeel is chewy for the style, with lingering bitterness and thick, tongue-coating hop oils.
Overall this is a fine beer. People discuss the merits of the West Coast vs East Coast style of IPA – but this one doesn’t seem to fit the bill for either. I enjoy the uniqueness here, but after the first can of my 4 pack I was wishing this were one of my Midwest favorites instead.

Well worth a shot for the hop heads out there though.

Categories: Beer Reviews, IPA | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.