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IPA: 90 Minutes of Glory

A Dogfish Head Story

 Original Release Date:


Food Pairing Recommendations:

Pork chops, beef, grilled fish, frites, focaccia, split pea soup, Stilton cheese & escargot

Glassware Recommendation:


Tasting Notes:

Brandied fruitcake, raisiney, citrusy



Wine Comparable:

Sauvignon blanc[1]


The defining character of IPA is the result of many people’s efforts to solve a vexing problem. Imagine, if you will, a country filled with people who love to drink fine ale. Those countries establishes one of the greatest naval forces of all time, and in so doing its leaders encounter many challenges. Not the least of those challenges was the one concerning the important beer drinking needs of the navy’s sailors and the soldiers and colonists in settlements around the world. The problem facing the British during the 18th and 19th centuries was that beer did not keep well on long ocean voyages, especially voyages into hot climates. These hot environments often resulted in flat, sour beer. Voyages often lasted months, a long time for British sailors to go without a pint of beer. If such a situation were allowed, sailors would miss not only the cultural aspects of ale, but also the ready source of B vitamins that beer provided.[2] The importance of beer was not lost on the British Empire: ships on station in the English Channel issued a ration of 1 gal of beer per man per day. Those serving in the cool Baltic waters also had access to beer. It was on long voyages into the tropics that the men suffered the most from lack of beer.

So how would the enterprising British solve the great beer problem? The Empire was desperate for a way to transport beer to the far corners of the globe. The answer to the great beer problem finally came from a recipe and not an innovation in brewing technology. George Hodgson, brewer at the Bow Brewery in East London, began shipping Hodgson’s India Ale during the 1790s. The ale was a version of his pale ale, which Londoners had been drinking since the mid-11750s. These copper-colored or reddish-bronze beers were called pale ales because they were lighter in color than the popular brown ales, porters and stouts. Hodgson’s pale ales were some of the first beers in the world that were paler than black or brown. [3]

Before the advent of refrigeration and pasteurization, the brewer’s only weapons against spoilage were alcohol and hops. Alcohol provided an unfriendly environment for microbial action, and the isohumulone content of the hops inhibited the growth of Lactobacillus. Thus, high alcohol content and high hopping rates could protect beer from the souring associated with long storage times. Hodgson took his pale ale recipe, increased the hop content considerably, and raised the starting gravity by the addition of extra grain and sugar. Extremely high attenuation resulted in strong ales with high alcohol content.3 Hodgson also added dry hops to the casks at the time of priming, which provided a further measure against infection. During priming he conditioned the beer with more sugar than was typical for pale ales. The high priming rate probably helped keep the yeast alive during the long voyage. Although high priming rates might suggest excessive carbonation, leakage from the wooden casks may have offset this effect. In any case a “high state of condition” would have been important to offset large amount of carbon dioxide lost during the primitive bottling process used when the beer arrived in India. The result was very bitter, alcoholic, and sparkling pale ale that could withstand the rigors of travel and shelf life in India. Hodgson’s success became legendary.

Thanks in part to Hodgson’s recipe, the Indian market expanded rapidly. A review of the export numbers emphasizes the recipe’s impact. In 1750, about 1480 barrels left England for India; in 1775, 1680 barrels were exported. This minor increase of 200 barrels in annual shipments after 25 years was eclipsed by the huge increase in exports over the next 25 years — in 1800, 9000 barrels were exported, an increase of about 7300 barrels in annual shipments. That increase surpasses the entire amount of beer exported to India in the previous 100 years. The success generated by Hodgson’s recipe encouraged other brewers to try to enter the potentially lucrative market. Today we are still seeing IPA’s being brewed in the same manner that Hodgson came up with all those years ago.

How it’s made and production

Dogfish Head’s signature product is its line of India Pale Ales (IPAs), which are offered in three varieties: 60 Minute, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute IPA.[4] The 90 Minute IPA, an Imperial IPA made by Dogfish Head, was the first beer the company made that was continually-hopped. Their names refer to the length of the boil time of the wort in which the hops are continuously added. The longer hops are boiled, the more hop isomerization takes place, and the more bitterness is imparted to the beer. To further enhance their beers, Dogfish Head introduced a device in 2003 jokingly called Randall the Enamel Animal, an “organoleptic hop transducer module” which “Randallizes” a given beer by passing the beer through a large plastic tube filled with a flavor enhancer, often raw hops though adaptations with fruits and coffee beans, amongst others, have taken place. The alcohol in the beer lifts oils off the raw hops and imparts even more hop flavor and aroma to beers that were already hoppy to begin with. What we’re looking at with this beer is a 90 minute boil with 90 or more additions of hops, which gives the beer a pungent but not crushing hop flavor. Remember, when things are added at the beginning of the boil they’re for flavor, and the end of the boil is for aromatics.

Here is a recipe[5] and a video1 from Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head talking about how they make the 90 Minute.

Flavor profile in 90 Minutes

When poured into a classic Dogfish snifter, this beer is a nice reddish-brown and developes an excellent off-white head thick with tiny bubbles. Calagione noted that one achievement of this beer is its “pungent hop flavor” and aroma … extremely citrusy and a little piney but not overpoweringly so due to the malt backbone. The nose of this 90-minute was full of wonderful citrus aromas, as well as some nice malty sweetness. The continuous hopping process and malt balance make this beer a taste explosion. Dogfish have walked the line between “bitter” and “pungent” with not-so-surprising ease here. All those hops will rock your palate, but the malts will bring you back to reality. One sip is almost like taking a sip of two different beers back to back: big hoppy front, and malty finish. ABV is 9.0% … this isn’t one to just knock back. It’s more of a sipper in my opinion, and is best served in a snifter. Either way, if you enjoy IPAs, this is a must-try for its solid taste and flavor profiles.

Works Cited

“90 Minute IPA.” Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/year-round-brews/90-minute-ipa.htm&gt;.

“All About Beer Magazine.” » Mythbusting the IPA. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <http://allaboutbeer.com/learn-beer/history/2009/11/mythbusting-the-ipa/&gt;.

“BT – India Pale Ale, Part I: IPA and Empire–Necessity and Enterprise Give Birth to a Style.” BrewingTechniques Online. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <http://www.brewingtechniques.com/library/styles/2_2style.html&gt;.

“Dogfish Head Brewery.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Jan. 2012. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogfish_Head_Brewery&gt;.

“History of India Pale Ale.” Everyday Drinkers. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <http://everydaydrinkers.com/2007/11/02/history-of-india-pale-ale/&gt;.

“A ProMash Recipe – Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.” Comcast.net: Personal Web Pages. Web. 03 Apr. 2012. <http://home.comcast.net/~rhagerbaumer/recipes/Dogfish_Head_90_Minute_IPA.html&gt;.

[1] 90 Minute IPA.

[2] All About Beer Magazine

[3] History of India Pale Ale

[4] “Dogfish Head Brewery.” Wikipedia

[5] A ProMash Recipe – Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.


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