Drunken Speculation

#65 Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA

dogfish head 90min ipaYou may have read my alternative review of Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute Imperial IPA. Given the American hype around the beer, it’s recent arrival down under and the fact that I used $20 of my birthday giftcard for two little twelve ounce bottles, I figure I’ll flog this horse for all it’s worth and get a less alternative and more typical review out of it.

The name comes from the length of the boil, the stage in making a beer between mashing and fermenting, wherein most of the hops are added. There’s also 60, 75 and 120 minute versions. The 60 minute and 90 minute versions make up 68% of all Dogfish Head sales. Americans do love them an IPA.

The label is quite straightforward:

What you have here is an Imperial India Pale Ale featuring a single, constant 90-minute hop addition. It’s balanced by a ridiculous amount of English Two-row Barley. Then we dry-hop it in every tank.

Pouring this slick, viscous, oily liquid into my trusty IPA glass, the carbonation has withstood the test of time quite well, which is impressive under the circumstances. The Dogfish beer forms a thick white head with a multitude of different sized bubbles pressed up against the side of the glass.

The 90 Minute presents a deep golden colour with a strong aroma of caramel, sweet barley character with a suggestion of hop bitterness underneath. Most pleasant. As it warms, this morphs into a strong fragrance of fusel alcohols.

The first impression brings a generous dollop of caramel. That clears quickly and the 90 Minute IIPA brings awe-inspiring, eye-watering levels of bitterness. Its not quite as severe as Hair of the Blog or India Mastiff Ale, which are two beers I’ve tried when fresh around the same number of IBUs. While the numbers are similar, there is a distinct difference in the experience between a fresh-from-the-tank IIPA and one that’s sat in a bottle on a boat from Delaware to Queensland.

There’s a good alcohol burn in the aftertaste. Not significant (if you drink a lot of big beers) but managed well enough to let you know it’s there, a reminder that this beer is a sizeable 9%. Malt backbone, bitterness and alcohol are the protagonists with hoppiness relegated to a supporting role, probably something involving a mask. It may be partly due to age or it may be that no matter how much you dry-hop a beer, a ninety minute boil creates a bitterness so overwhelming other flavours just can’t get a foothold.

Certainly, the 90 Minute IIPA rates much more highly in my book than some of its Australian counterparts but its obviously not a beer you’ll drink heaps of, if for no other reason than the price. I’d still love to get a lot closer to the source and try it again.


  • Website
  • Genre: (Imperial) IPA
  • Regionality: Milton, Delaware, USA
  • Strength: 9.0%
  • Rating: 2 / 3 taste + 1.5 / 2 ancillaries = 3.5 / 5
  • Plus: Looks good, smells good
  • Minus: Bit heavy going for my taste
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