A simple, anonymous phone call launched my quest for what most hopheads consider the Holy Grail of beer. We’d long heard whispers of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA appearing at local watering holes, but they always turned out to be unsubstantiated rumors. But this caller, voice muffled into a whisper, insured us The Huddle had the liquid gold.
I didn’t think it could be. Sleepy Hollow of all places? So I investigated. “Yea, we have, like, three bottles left,” The Huddle’s bartender Mike Redmond told me over the phone. “They’re $20 a bottle.” The phone call sealed my fate; I was but hours away from tasting this sweet nectar of the gods.
I started to second-guess it all though. Could a beer really be worth $20 for 12 measly ounces? To prepare myself, I sought the guidance of Alan Daniels, president of beer heaven Half Time in Mamaroneck, the world’s largest beer store. “There’s really nothing else to compare it to,” Daniels explained.
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Fair enough, but why the expense? “It takes more than two months of fermenting in the tanks, and ingredients—such as the unusual amount of hops to increase the IBU and the grains that help bring the ABV to the 15 to 20% level, a level averaging four- to six-times the normal ABV found in craft beer—add to the overall expense.”
Well if it’s so good, why is it so hard to find? “This brew is only done a few times a year and requires a much lengthier time in the fermenters than other IPAs,” Daniels explained. “The 120 is boiled for two hours while continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month, and then aged for another month on whole-leaf hops.”
Now that I had the low-down on the 120 IPA, it was time for me to brave the perils of 287 and make the trek to The Huddle. Walking into the bar, I slapped a crisp Andrew Jackson onto the bar top. “Dogfish Head 120,” I implored. Barkeep Redmond presented the beer, in all her beauty, along with a snifter. I took a few moments to ready myself before bringing the bottle to my lips. As it washed over my taste buds, my eyes lit up. Unlike most IPAs, the hoppyness didn’t overwhelm, but played nicely with a hint of syrup, and finished sweeter than expected. It was, indeed, the best IPA I’ve tasted to date.
Just like that, my quest for the Holy Grail was now complete. Should you venture on your own journey, The Huddle still possesses a few bottles, and insured me they’ll have another batch next year. And, as fate would have, we recently happened upon a few bottles stowed away at The Craftsman Ale House.
If you miss out on the 120 this year, Half Time’s Daniels informed us “you should make every attempt to try as many Dogfish beers as you can because they’re formulated by Sam Calagione, a brewmaster unlike any other in the world.”