Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA was one of the first truly “big” IPA brews
of the style and has earned its place in the proverbial “Craft Beer Hall
of Fame.” It’s radically different when compared to brews of the style
today because it’s so well-balanced. In fact, it might even been too
malty for its own good, as it seems to drink like an imperial amber ale.
Regardless, it’s still quite delectable and easy to drink – no wonder
it’s endured all these years.
I poured a 12oz bottle into the official Dogfish Head goblet. It was bottled on 10/2/14 and cost $3.99 ($0.33 per ounce).
Appearance: Beautiful copper hue; mostly clear with a slight haze;
plenty of visible carbonation. Pours to a two-finger, white frothy head
which laces and retains very well.
Smell: For a supposedly hoppy beer there’s a strong malt presence in the
nose. Sweet notes of caramel and brown sugar, plus flowers and pine
Taste: This is an overtly malty IPA. There’s a lot of sweetness and it’s
immediately recognizable. Toffee, caramel and other candy flavors lay
the foundation for a hefty malt base. Though a highly-hopped beer at 90
IBUs, it’s actually not all that bitter (well, not aggressively so).
Like a good East Coast-style hoppy brew, the bitterness is slightly dank
with a taste of piney and floral hops. The alcohol appears on the back
end, accentuating the malt character and imparting mild warmth. There’s a
distinct taste akin to coffee right as it finishes; probably due to
some specialty malt. This is a well-rounded beer to say the least and an
enjoyable one due to its uniqueness. An oldie but a goodie.
Drinkability: This is the kind of beer that was probably a behemoth when
it debuted (or to craft beer drinking newbies); yet it seems so
pedestrian in its delivery. Definitely full-bodied, but the mouthfeel is
not as intense or cloying or sticky as you might expect. There’s even
slight crispness from the carbonation. At 9% ABV it’s not surprising to
find the alcohol plays a role in providing some warmth, but it’s far
from a fire-breather. Additionally, at 90 IBUs it’s not an
enamel-scraper, either. There is some lingering bitterness, but it’s
easily tolerable. This is the kind of beer that will pair perfectly with
a meal that can match its robustness and balance.