And really, how better to follow a charmingly old-school, relatively-sedate IPA than with a pair of hop-mad ones; two rungs on a ladder of crazypants by the mad geniuses at the Dogfish Head brewery. My flatmate Ollie and I each had a half-glass of their ‘60 Minute’ IPA and ‘90 Minute’ IIPA1 — the time references how long the brew is boiled for, and they just keep biffing more hops in every minute, on the minute.
There are two others in the range; a stronger, stickier ‘120 Minute’ (way up at 18%) and a ‘75 Minute’, which is a 50-50 blend of the 60 and the 90 which is then barrel aged, with yet more hops. These two are much more readily-available, though — the 90 Minute was the original, but it’s the 60 Minute which is currently their biggest-seller. I’ve had them individually before, and they make for a hell of a side-by-side comparison.
Both are positively a-sploding with classic Northwest-U.S. hop flavours.2 60 Minute is generously described as the ‘sessionable’ one of the set, but that’s probably only true relative to the others; it is still 6% and pretty wonderfully solid, all on its own. The 90 Minute is then instantly recognisable as the same idea, just with the volume turned up considerably — from how you might have it when unselfconsciously dancing around the house on your own, straight to something that’ll instantly annoy the neighbours. But to hell with the neighbours. You just have to crank things up stupidly occasionally. And this beer does that. Maybe you couldn’t have it every day, but maybe you wouldn’t want to. It’s that one day of madness and excess that you enjoy ridiculously, but which you couldn’t indulge in too often — lest you run out of money, liver cells, close friends, or chances at diversion from the criminal justice system (whatever you burn through most readily when you party just a bit too hard).
They’re both bloody marvellous and choosing between them is so agonisingly difficult that I personally just recommend you do as we did, here — better to break the rules with a Gordian Knot kind of move than to wind up like Buridan’s Ass, if I can just crazy with the references for a moment. These are the sort of beers that inspire that enjoyably-geeky sort of rambling and blathering, as you can see from the near-nonsense in my notes.
Verbatim: Dogfish Head ‘60 & 90 Minute’ IPAs 11/3/11 6% + 9% both 12 floz. Ollie and I are having half each, on the occasion of the new job. 60 is happiness all day, every day; 90, one massive hit, once a day. It’s Sophie’s Choice. I love how recognisable the progression is. 90 is just that leap upwards in aroma, sharpness + intensity — and just straight up the nose to the forebrain. 60 is the preacher saying “Can I get a flavour?” and waving his hands. 90 is the response from a thousand-strong congregation.
1: Those links are highly recommended, by the by. Both feature pretty good notes, and nice little videos featuring a bit of backstory about the beers and the brewery — including some high-tech and no-tech gizmos, and the origin of their otherwise-rather-odd name. You can see Sam’s easy and infectious enthusiasm in the videos, too. Despite being one of these new-fangled beer celebrities (what with his documentary series and its collaborations and all), he seems to remain a thoroughly-lovely chap — we briefly worked behind the same bar at the beer festival last year, which truncates the hell out of my Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (Beer Nerd Edition) paths.
2: The hop varieties are from the Northwest, at least. Dogfish Head itself is in Delaware. But any mention of Delaware just makes me think of Wayne’s World, and thereby proves distracting.