A lot can change in a decade. Anyone who’s aged a beer that long knows the brew can transform into an entirely different beast in the course of 10 years. While we’ve aged many big stouts and barleywines before, there’s always been one beer that’s intrigued us from an aging perspective: Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA.
The beer is somewhat of an anomaly. It’s marketed as The Holy Grail for Hopheads, yet it says right on the label that it ages well. Why is this weird? Well, as we’ve stated before in our Guide to Collecting and Aging Beer, hop-forward beers aren’t really made for aging. All those wonderful hop notes fade with time. So why would this beer that’s been hopped continuously during its two-hour boil and then dry-hopped after be good for aging?
For starters, it’s got the boozy chops you’re looking for. We’re talking to the tune of 18-20% ABV. And while the hops will fade, the beer itself can stand the test of time easily at those levels. Also, with such a high ABV, an argument could be made for letting it mellow out a bit. We took a bottle just shy of 10 years old and compared it to a fresh one to see just how much this hoppy monster changes.
Answer: A whole hell of a lot. Whereas with other beers there’s a semblance of the original idea in the aged beer, with 120 Minute IPA, it’s like drinking two completely different things. While the recipe has been adjusted over time, there was no common thread left. It becomes sweet—cloying even—without any of those glorious hops. The burn from the alcohol fades, making it a seriously dangerous beverage without that throat-scorching speed bump as a warning. It’s sugary booze juice. Some of us thought it was okay, but most found it too sweet for our liking.
Our two cents: 9 years was a tad too long.