So on Friday I discovered a wonderful little place called Binny’s Beverage Depot. I have long known of it’s existence, but never paid it a visit before, out of fear that I would not be able to leave without having spent hundreds of hours and dollars that I did not have to waste. I was given an unexpected $20, though, and decided I would take my half ($10 went to the wife’s Starbucks addiction) and go buy some beer. I have been buying most of my beer at Dominick’s when we do our grocery shopping just out of convenience, but inspired by an internet discussion with a brewmaster friend of mine I decided to seek out something a little
more expensive higher in quality.
My intent was to pickup some Three Floyds Gumballhead, which I have heard good things about. After arriving at Binny’s (and after I was done staggering like Fred Sanford in front of the massive Wall-O-Beer) it became quickly apparent that I would not be purchasing what I had driven the 10 minutes for. Gumballhead is only available by the bottle (32 ouncer, IIRC), but it was close to $10 per. While I am willing to bet that it is worth it, when I only have $10 to spend on beer for the entire month, common sense begs me to pick up more than a single serving.
Still on a mission for quality, I began perusing the 6 packs for something that I could enjoy during more than one sitting. Immediately jumping out at me was the Dogfish Head beers. I was familiar with the name, not only because it is peculiar and memorable, but I recalled reading about it the Dogfish Head Brewery in Charlie Papazian’s “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing,” and I also recalled seeing a book written by the Dogfish Brewmaster Sam Calagione on high gravity and specialty brewing in my William’s Home Brewing catalog.
Foolishly I did not recheck the list of recommended wheat beers that were mentioned by my friend before I left the house, and since the wheat beer section of the Wall-O-Beer looked to me like an indecipherable jumble of long eastern European names (all of which contained umlauts), I decided I would not risk buying the Germanic equivalent of Blue Moon (I believe Blue Moon tastes like hot dog water) and go with a brewery I specifically remembered hearing good things about.
So the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA seemed like a good choice. I like bold, flavorful and floral beers, but because it was hot and I was going to be consuming this beer after an Italian beef and giardineria pizza, I still wanted something more than just a palate cleanser.
I know most of my friends (the only people who read this blog) are not particular about their beer and may not be familiar with how beer is made, so I will give a very brief and somewhat informed background on what IPA is. Now, I could very easily just google IPA and give you a 100% accurate description, but because I am tired of flipping between Firefox tabs, I will try to give you a background per the best of my memory, so some/most/all of the following information can be/might be/probably is wrong.
IPA (India Pale Ale) is a style of beer that born out of necessity. Back in the days when Great Britain t0t4lly pwned India and traveling by large boat for months at a time was all the rage, the Brits needed to create a beer that was high enough in alcohol content and acidity that it would not spoil on the long sojourns from the UK to the blazing heat of India. So one day some brewer increased the alcohol and hop contents of his regular old pale ale and IPA was born. The increased alcohol inhibits microbial intervention and the increased hopping (more on hops later) helps inhibit bacterial growth, both of which prevent spoilage and souring. The resulting beer is light in color but bold in flavor and aroma and a distinctive floral bitterness.
Hops are a flower added during the brewing process that effect the flavor, aroma and acidity of the finished product. Typical brewing calls for an amount of hops to go into the wort (wort = beer prior to fermentation) at the start of the boil. These hops are where the flavor and acidity come from. Then another amount of hops is added to the wort for the last 10-15 minutes of the boil. These hops are strictly to enhance the aroma of the finished beer. Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped, which means all of the hops are added at the beginning of the boil and kept in throughout. The continuous hopping methold extracts the boldest and most flavorful characters from the hops and imparts a distinctive bitterness to the finished beer.
That ends my very brief and uneducated beer lesson. If Mr. Mason from Flossmoor Station reads this, my guess is that he will chastise and correct me, both of which I would be appreciative of.
This beer is somewhere between a dark golden and copper color. The aroma and head retention are both marginal, but the flavor is intense and features a strong citrus and pine character. I prefer bitter to sweet, so I don’t find this beer to be overly bitter at all, but if you are the type of person who drinks nothing but High Life, you may very will disagree with me. With a rating of 60, it is on the higher end of the scale of International Bitterness Units, but it is not a cloying bitterness, and I think it is a beer that will pair well with food, particularly spicy stuff. I know it went well with my pizza.
As for the Dogfish Head claim that this is a session beer, I would not go that far, personally. The 6% ABV is a bit high, and this is a thicker brew that will linger on your the back of your tongue if you do not cleanse your palate with food or water. I am sure there are plenty of blokes who could handle 2 or 3 hours of pounding back this IPA, but I am not one of them. I prefer my session beers to be crisper and more refreshing…and cheaper.
I enjoy this beer and recommend it, although it is not an all day every day beer. I treat beers like this like wine or hard liquor. One at a time. During or perhaps after a dinner. To unwind after a long day at work while you loaf on the couch and watch the game. It is a beer to be savored, not chugged.
Enjoy. More reviews to come as my budget allows. I am sure I will be anxious to get some good beer after I finish the High Life Light in my fridge.