I am increasingly of the opinion that being banned in New Hampshire is, for a beer, a true badge of honor. At first it was the Founders Breakfast Stout being forbidden for the use of an image of a child on the label, a fight we of the beer world thankfully won to the chagrin of our Nanny-In-Chief, Governor Maggie Hassan. Now before me, I find this, the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA.
The manner by which I came across this brew, which is banned for sale (at least in bottles) here in New Hampshire came to be by way of a special and altogether pleasant event at a nearby restaurant known as 900 Degrees. In saying this is “nearby,” I mean in actuality that it was a stone’s throw from my apartment. I had been informed of a special tasting at the wood-fired pizza restaurant by a Dogfish Head sales rep during a tasting earlier in the week.
Arriving I was greeted almost immediately by my boss, Bert, as well as the rep who smiled happily as I entered. The place smelled of fresh garlic, wood smoke and all manner of wonderful dishes that being that payday had still not rolled around, I was quite confident I could not afford. However luckily the beer on tap was, for those attending the tasting, free. It was but a few moments before I had a glass in my hand and my-oh-my, what a beer it contained.
To call this thing beastly would be, in my opinion, an understatement. Practically opaque, the orange-amber beer is another of the sort where if you weren’t told ahead of time that it is an IPA, you’d likely never guess. Smelling of rich malts, heavy, juicy hops and a definite high gravity nature, it was the sort of brew that might intimidate a lesser drinker. To be honest, it somewhat intimidated me.
As I sipped it, the much anticipated blast of fusel alcoholic burn strangely didn’t show up. Instead, a mild and smooth booziness accompanied a pronounced malt profile and citrusy, juicy hop notes which almost seemed to take a backseat to the former flavors mentioned. Though very bold in its flavor and aggressive in its presence on the palate, it was at the same time very well balanced and not in any discernible manner tipping towards any particular flavor element with any real overtness.
Reminding me quite a bit of the Harpoon Leviathan and Founder’s Devil Dancer Triple IPA, it was a weighty and serious sip, yet one that was thoroughly enjoyable. In comparing to Devil Dancer in particular, I was surprised when I learned that it 17-18% ABV, putting it above Devil Dancer in that regard, while still tasting smoother will less overall boozy burn. Neither mouth nor throat burned, but instead once the sip had reached my stomach, a gentle but notable warmth seemed to begin radiating from my core.
After two more and courting the attention of a lovely young woman with strawberry blonde hair who I had seen at my shop a time or two, I felt the time was right to return to my desk and attempt a write up on it. However waking in my bed the next morning, still fully dressed with my front door still unlocked, it became clear that I had perhaps gone overboard with the second or third glass and thankfully had not attempted writing. I can only imagine how that would have turned out.
But to Dogfish Head, to 900 Degrees, to the lovely Catherine whose egress from the bar preceded my own sadly and of course, to you I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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