Flashback to over 8 months ago. It was 2011, people were chipper about the upcoming new year. I walk into my local beer store and buy a Dogfish Head Olde School barley wine. Somewhat jokingly, I ask the clerk if he has any 120 minute, as at the time I had NEVER seen one in CT before. He smiles, and with a crisp tone he states; "I have two in the back, I save them for the people that ask only." "Cool," I replied, "I'll take both." Bottled Fall 2011 printed on the bottle.
Flashforward 8 months and $25 later, the opportunity came to sample the 120 Minute IPA, which on homebrew forums and beer sites alike is one of the most discussed beers. (For a great clone recipe and blog about brewing 120 minute, please see Bertus Brewery). Having never sampled a 120 Minute before I was a little nervous to say the least. What if I didn't like it? Would I be able to show my face in the beer community again?
The color was a beautiful orange-gold. Huge aromas of hops from a continuous 30 day dry-hop could be detected within a 10-foot radius of the glass. Come a little closer and aromas of malt and hot-alcohol come through the hops.
First sip, at around 40-45 degrees, was of sweet malt, hot alcohol, and hops. I detected a LOT of simcoe, and a slight amount of floral from the amarillo. As the beer warmed up to closer to room temperature, more and more hop flavors and aromas powered their way thorough the heavy malts and hot alcohol.
Overall, I was unimpressed with the 120 Minute, maybe because people hyped it up so much that it was destined to disappoint. I split the 12oz bottle with a good friend, and I don't think I would be able to finish and entire bottle of the 18% alcohol behemoth. Hops are huge, alcohol is enormous, and malts are over the top. For some this is the perfect beer, but for me, possible becoming more refined with my old age, I want something a little more drinkable.
As I stated earlier, this was bottled in Fall 2011. I bought two at the time, and plan to age the other bottle at least 5 years. Talking to friends, it has been determined that this beer is better with age. I am hoping that many of the flavors i found unpleasant, such as the hot alcohol and sweet malt, will mellow with age and make this beer more balanced.