I know you are all like me, when the seasons come and go there are those favorites that are released that have over the years become like an obsession to find. No season more perpetuates this than the fall pumpkin craze. Here in Hawaii, the variety of pumpkin beers that make it here are few and far between as opposed to the mainland availability (for all decent brews, all times of the year for that matter). For example, my favorite pumpkin beers that we get in the islands have been the Rogue Pumpkin Patch and Sam Adams Fat Jack.
Then there are those that cause us to go into full on obsession mode. Planning out your vacations around its release, mapping out where it has been distributed to so that you are within arms reach of your own personal Holy Grail (cuz Jesus actually turned water into beer, not wine. Didn’t know that, did ya?).
The search of all searches occurred for me this year on our trip to Washington state and Oregon. The obsession, Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA, the self proclaimed Holy Grail for hop heads. The Dogfish website if you do not know has what they call a “Fish Finder” that gives you all the locations that their beer has been sent. I utilized this “religiously” and it did not steer me wrong.
Like I expected, every location was bone dry. Specialty shops in Tacoma like World Beers and Pint Defiance looked at me like I was crazy to think that they would still have some in stock. The silver lining, these places had tap rooms with amazing finds like Boneyard’s Hop Venom and Stone’s Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers sooooooo, bottoms upright. The search continues in Seattle, after a stop at the Yard House that had DFH’s 90 Minute IPA AND Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale on tap (bottoms up, up, up!) down by the famous Pikes Place market there was this small sign that caught the corner of my eye. The name eludes me now but looked like a name I had seen on the Fish Finder so in we went to this vibrant, organic based intimate little market store, where a small sign pointed upstairs to the wine and craft beer sections. The excitement is starting to mount as we comb through the selection (and what a selection) of beers only to find that it was nowhere to be found. The kindly old gentleman who worked there asked if we were looking for something in particular, to which I replied “As a matter of fact…” He said he had one, which meant he had one per customer in the back. Luckily, I was with others who reacted fast and asked for one too so instead of one, I was walking out with four! Seattle was good to me…… Go Niners!
On to Oregon, where apparently, the beer flows like wine (Dumb and Dumber? Come on people!). While Portland provided me with new outlooks on Deschutes (mantastic), Rogue, Elysian and many others, there was not one 120 Minute IPA in sight. Off to Eugene, OR, where the growler fill stations are as frequent as water fountains (perhaps more so) and the breweries, tap rooms and bottle shops are within a short crawl from each other. Found, at an organic foods store, in the cooler, no limit, fully stocked. What happened next is a little blurry in memory but I ended up at the register with all that my conscience could handle (damn conscience, I wish I had grabbed more) and shelled out the dough. Mission accomplished. Eugene was better to me…… Go Niners.
The feeling, the rush of it all, the disappointment, the miles in between, the joy…. the being broke after…. all of it worth it. This beer is meant to be shared so if you are one of the lucky ones to get your hands on one, don’t be selfish. Get a craft buddy to have one with and talk about the journey, the tasting notes, the smells and remember it.
The 120 Minute IPA is 18% ABV and usually pours like a dream. There is no other beer that I can compare it to but here goes nothing. The color has a deep copper, woodsy tone to it and the lace is like a silk blanket. The aromas of bananas, sometimes cherries and citrus, breathe like fire after each boozy sip. A fresh 120 is very hop forward while the aged allows the sugars to shine with the hops subsiding. It is hard to sum up one experience of a 120 because the experience changes throughout. Might be the only 10/10 UrD that I have ever given or ever will.
Ever had a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA? Let me know.