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Oct 23, 2007 08:08 AM

Naive IPA Question

Beer Hounds,

I recently tried the Dogfish 90 minute IPA based on the IPA thread on this board. I did like it, but it raised a question for me. If this is held up as one of the best IPAs out there, is the desired goal of IPAs to be, for lack of a better term, syrupy? Like I said I enjoyed the beer, but it was really strong, not hoppy strong, but kind of thick and sweet strong. Is that unique to Dogfish or is that what a true IPA should be like?

Billy Bob

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  1. Not necessarily, no. The 90 Minute is not a traditional IPA. If you're looking to try an IPA that is truer to the roots of the style, I'd suggest Samuel Smith's India Ale, or Victory's Hop Devil. These are both traditional English IPAs, which is where the style originated.

    IPA was a style developed for British troops in India, because beer would spoil more easily in the heat. They'd boost the alcohol and hop content, as both have preservative effects.

    To get more alcohol, you need more sugar, so IPAs do tend to be fuller-bodied than lighter styles.

    As you get into double IPAs, which I believe the 90 Minute is considered to be, you see much heavier beers because the sugar content needs to be high to get more alcohol.

    I'd suggest you try Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA, instead of the 90. It's lighter in body, but still has lots of great hop flavor. Another good one, if you can find it out there, is Stone IPA.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Josh


      Thanks for the insight! I will try your suggestions.


      1. re: Josh

        Dogfish actually has a 120 minute IPA! It's 21% abv!!

        The "minutes" (60, 90, 120) refer to the hop schedule and boil time. Dogfish does continuous hop additions. In other words, rather than adding hops two or three different times throughout the boil, small amounts of the hop bill are added every minute. Additionally, hops are added during fermentation for aroma.

        White Horse has a good IPA called VIllage Idiot, and Bristol has a good Old World

        My husband loves IPA, and has recently been raving about Meantime Brewery's Meantime India Pale Ale

        1. re: Diana

          Diana's the only one who hit on this- Dogfish Head's continuous hopping schedule also means that there's likely not as much hops added early in the boil compared to other brands. This tends to tilt the balance a bit sweeter b/c you don't have that simple, bitter flavor that you'd have by putting in a chunk of the hops early on. I like the 90 Minute, but I like a lot of IIPAs better. Great Divide's Hercules pops to mind, for one that I can run up the street and buy. Hmm, maybe I will...

          1. re: ted

            For the DFH's 60-90-120 Ales, the numbers ALSO refer to the final IBU of the beer, so 90 Minute IPA should be as bitter as any other 90 IBU IPA. I agree the sweet/syrup-y quality of the beer does somewhat mask the bitterness.

      2. What you have there is a classic example of an East Coast Double (or Imperial) IPA. Sweet, syrupy, not an overabundance of hop flavor or aroma and just enough bitterness to balance. West Coast Double IPA's for the most part (there are always exceptions to the rule) are thinner and drier in mouthfeel due to sugar additions (instead of all malt) and/or low mash temps. WC DIPA's are usually a bit bolder in hop character as well.

        Look for Sierra Nevada IPA for a fresh example of an english style IPA (but with US hops) or Smuttynose IPA for an American IPA. DFH 60 Minute IPA is a weak example these days - more in the pale ale range than IPA.

        1. As has been pointed out, there are a number of distinct IPA styles, so asking what a "true IPA" is like is difficult (and sometimes starts fights...)

          For good examples of the west coast style that are available in bottles, I would recommend trying Bear Republic Racer 5 and Green Flash West Coast IPA.

          1. I recommend the Bridgeport Brewing Co. IPA. It has a respectable alcohol content and hop flavoring characteristic of an IPA.
            I will disagree with Josh about more sugar leading to fuller-bodied beers. I made an IPA that was 7.74% using malted barley, rice, and turbinado sugar; it was much lighter than an IPA I made following German purity laws (wheat, hops, yeast, water only). In my experience, the weight of the beer body comes from the grain bill, not the amount of sugar extracted from the grain bill, after all, it's the sugar that is eaten by yeast and converted to alcohol.
            To truly gauge an IPA (or any other beer) compare it to the descriptions found in the Beer Judge Certification Program style guidelines. They are the rules that beer competitions are based on and should let you know what the style of beer you are having should be like.


            1 Reply
            1. re: HeBrew

              There is more than one kind of sugar present in wort, and not all of it is fermentable. It's unsurprising that a beer made with sugar and rice would be lighter, because those produce simple sugars that the yeast will consume completely. It's the same reason that beers made with honey taste so dry, yeast eats all of the sugar in the honey. There are other kinds of sugars that your barley mash will produce that don't get eaten by brewers yeast. Some styles see the deliberate addition of things like lactose for that very reason (e.g. sweet stout).

              After mashing your grains, you have sugar water. The grain itself stays behind. It's not the grain that gives the body to beer, but the residual sugars not eaten by the yeast. At least this is what I have gleaned from my reading of homebrew books and beer recipes.

            2. I don't happen to think that your question is naive at all. We could use more posts of this nature rather than the "what’s your favorite {fill in the blank}" which can be useful but are just too common on this board IMHO.
              Dogfish Head 90 minute is a double IPA. You describe it well and to me it has some alcohol heat on it too. That thickness or syrupy-ness that you describe I found in beers like Pliny the Younger (haven’t had “the Elder) too along with a prickly “alive” texture from the hop (I think). So if you like that style, try that one too. I agree with the others that the West Coast double IPAs pack a little more hop punch (e.g. Green Flash DIPA) which you may enjoy as well.
              Lastly, exactly what the “traditional” or “original” IPA is supposed to be eludes me. I had in Britain something called Eagle IPA (which I believe is made by the Wells & Young) that was 3.7% abv. And while I enjoyed it I would never guess this beer would be hearty or robust enough to survive the voyage from England to India.
              I’m still learning though.

              8 Replies
                1. re: Diana

                  If you are a homebrewer entering contests anyway. Commercial brewers have no such restrictions. Good use of quotes around the word supposed.

                  1. re: LStaff

                    commercial brewers enter contests, too. Quite avidly, I might say. County fairs, state fairs, national competitions, the Great American Beer Fest, The CAMRA fest in England, European beer festivals, Japanese beer festivals and more!

                    This year I had a great time serving the commercial winners up at the tasting bar/beer garden at the LA County Fair. Some great beers!

                    Here is the roster of winners, from CalFerm

                    No brewers have restrictions! You can go crazy, you just have to enter your beer into a category such as "Other" or "experimental". If you want to enter a beer in a certian category, it has to be brewed to style with all the right ingredients. But you don't have to. Some experimental beers have been grand prize winners.

                    My husband, who is a nationally certified judge, has told me tales of some wild beers, and even brought home a few extra bottles from contsets for me to taste. Some were homebrews, some were commercials. I have only been a steward for Home Bres competitions, buyt next year I hope to steward the LA county fair commercial competition.

                    1. re: LStaff

                      A lot of commercial brewers wholly embrace these style guidelines, and they don't view them as restrictions. I've done some judging at homebrew competitions, and brewing good beers to style is not an easy task. The vast majority of beers on the market labeled as a given style are brewed to these guidelines, at least that has been my experience.

                      And really, it makes sense. If anything can be an IPA, then why even have the name IPA?

                  2. re: Chinon00

                    Traditional IPAs, at least based on the ones I've had, taste like slightly more bitter pale ales. The West Coast IPA style has changed all that, but Victory Hop Devil is a good example of a traditional English style.

                    1. re: Josh

                      I'd disagree that Hop Devil is an example of a traditional English IPA. Hop Devil is quite overly bitter and hoppy, not as explosive as the Hop Wallop but much more of an americanized style compared to an English. I would say the Bell's Two Hearted Ale or Harpoon IPA are more reflective of the traditional English IPA.

                      Personally I am a fan of the west coast style but living in Boston limits access to Port Brewing, Alesmith, Russian River, Bear Republic and the like. I've made do with Leatherlips, Southern Tier Unearthly, Wyerbacher and the Dogfish Head IPA line.

                      1. re: mkel34

                        >I would say the Bell's Two Hearted Ale or Harpoon IPA are more reflective of the traditional English IPA.

                        Two Hearted is made with Centennial hops - Harpoon IPA - is mostly Cascade - these are american hops. "Traditional" English IPA's would most likely be made with East Kent Goldings or Fuggles.

                        1. re: LStaff

                          Some "English IPAs" according to Beer Advocate that we may be familiar with include:

                          Brooklyn East India Pale Ale
                          Brooklyn Brewery

                          Samuel Smith's India Ale
                          Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

                          Sierra Nevada India Pale Ale
                          Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

                          Blind Faith
                          Magic Hat Brewing Company

                          India Pale Ale
                          Yards Brewing Co.

                          ImPaled Ale
                          Middle Ages Brewing Co., Ltd.

                          Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale (Cedar Aged)
                          Kiuchi Brewery