Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review: Dogfish Head's 75 Minute IPA

If there's one thing that stands at the very heart of what Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales stands for, it's their collection of IPAs. Everyone with some experience in the craft brew world knows them by name: the 60 Minute IPA, the 90 Minute IPA, the new Sixty-One, and the top-of-the-line-but-not-quite-as-good-as-90-Minute-IPA 120 Minute IPA. But there's yet another new addition that has been made to this family of IPAs, and that's the 75 Minute IPA.

The idea for this came about when the brewery decided to see what would happen if they made an interesting fusion of their 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPAs. The result was the middle-of-the-road 75 Minute IPA. So they decided to start brewing it as its own bottle-conditioned entity and selling it in 750 mL bottles.

This tasty beverage is hopped with whole leaf Cascade hops (my absolute favorite in the IPA world) and spiked with something unusual: maple syrup. But one doesn't look at the words "maple syrup" on the label and walk away immediately because they're so weirded out because, well, this is Dogfish Head we're talking about. Y'know, the brewery putting ancient ingredients from long-dead cultures in their beer. How could a bit of maple syrup hurt?

Let's find out!

Appearance: 5/5
75 Minute IPA looks like a very clean, yet slightly dark IPA. It's a rich golden amber color, much like the color of honey, and is about 75% (ha) opaque. There is a good amount of carbonation, and I'm led to believe, based on various descriptions of this ale, that this retention of carbonation has to do with the infusion of maple syrup. So there's one bonus the syrup gives this ale. The head is great! It pours a frothy one and a half to two fingers thick and leaves really nice lacing.

Nose: 4/5
The familiar scent of citrus hops graces your nose with a wallop. But the smell is not so much earthy citrus, but rather sweet orangey citrus. The maple syrup is coming through in the nose as well, making the hops smell sweet and fresh. In fact, one may even smell traces of fresh pine coming on from combination of maple and caramel malts.

Taste: 4/5
I get notes of a bunch of different things from this IPA. The maple syrup is kind of like a sweet backbone tying all the other flavors together, which is nice; it's just there as a sort of frame for this beer. There are notes of orange citrus balanced with nutty, earthy malts. The hoppy bitterness you'd come to expect from a DFH IPA is there, but it's very well balanced by the maple and nut malt notes. I'd say DFH has done something special with this beer, having such nice flavor combinations. And because this is bottle conditioned, it means the flavor is always changing within the bottle. I'm very tempted to get another bottle of this and have it sit at room temperature for a month to do a follow-up comparison.

Mouthfeel: 3.5/5
75 Minute is lightly carbonated and very smooth. It has a medium body which doesn't overpower the palate. It's nice, and not too overwhelming, which you kind of come to expect when diving in to a DFH IPA.

Finish: 4/5
This ale goes down smooth with a dry hoppy finish. Bits of nutty sweetness linger behind on your palate, as well as notes of citrus. It finishes rather clean.

Total Score: 80/100

This is a very welcome, interesting, and not quite ordinary addition to the Dogfish Head IPA collection. I believe it's tied for second place in the hierarchy with Sixty-One, their grape-infused big brother to 60 Minute IPA. Of course 90 Minute IPA is still on top, but that's a hard hurtle to get over. Still, 75 Minute is awesome: sweet, tangy, nutty, and smartly crafted. Go pick yourself up two bottles, one for now and later.

Until next time, cheers!


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