Category Archives: Beer

Dogfish 120 Minute

Over the Christmas holiday, I had the opportunity to pick up a rather rare beer that I’ve been trying to get a hold of for quite some time now.  Dogfish Head brewing out of Milton, Deleware will always hold a special place in my beer lovers heart as they were the first brewery that really turned me on to IPA’s and extremely bitter and boppy beers.  They make several IPA’s and gauge their bitterness and alcohol content by naming them after how many minutes they continuously add in new hops to the boil.  The longer and more hops boil into the wort, the more sugars to ferment, the higher the alcohol content.  Their everyday IPA is 60 minute (6.0 % ABV), a little fancier brings you to the 90 minute (9.0% ABV) and the top of the line, limited run, is the 120 minute (varies, but this year is 18% ABV).  Obviously a beer at 18% isn’t your typical beer.  You can start to think of it more as a wine or distilled spirit.

The Loot

When you start pushing beer to the extremes of brewing some odd things can happen.  Dogfish Head was the subject of a Discovery Channel mini-series on craft beer.  During recording for the show, the Dogfish was going through it’s annual brew of 120 minute.  Although it’s the smallest batch of commercially available beer they brew all year, this production brings in a lot of revenue for the company.  That year in particular something went wrong with the brew (I believe the yeast kept on dying so it couldn’t finish fermentation) and they had to dump the entire batch.  Oops.

They played with the recipe and techniques, did a test batch over the summer, and then finally was able to ramp up production.  I was able to get several bottles of 120 minute while at my parents house (120 minute is not available for purchase for home consumption in the state of TX).  I drank a few bottles, but plan to cellar the remaining 4 bottles for special occasions.  A quality beer with high enough alcohol content can be stored like a fine wine.  The flavor will age and change with time.  Hopefully I have the patience to wait it out for awhile!


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Brewing Beer

I brewed up a batch of beer about 4 weeks ago.  Homebrewing has been a little hobby of mine in the past and I’m hoping to build on my skills so I can make up some truly delicious beer.  In the past I had purchased what I call a “kit in a can.”  If you can boil water and follow directions (and have all the tools) it was possible to make drinkable beer.  This last time, however, I decided to up the difficulty slightly and try out a custom recipe where I had to select all the ingredients.  This is still not all that impressive, the equivalent from graduating from Hamburger Helper to using a recipe you found in the church cookbook, but it’s a step in the right direction.

I went with the suggestions of the homebrew store employee and decided to brew a Hefeweizen for my first “on my own” brew.  This type of beer is a little bit easier than others because you don’t have to take malted grains and boil them before the remaining steps.  You also don’t need to worry about filtering since the style is normally an unfiltered variety.  This makes it a nice easy choice to take on for your first brew on your own.  The recipe was as follows:

7.5 lbs Wheat/Malt Extract

1 ounce US Hallertau hops

1 package Wyeast Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast strain

Bring large kettle of water to 120 degrees F.

Bringing the Water to Boil

Add extract and let dissolve.  Heat until boiling while stirring often to prevent scourging (burning of the extract on the bottom of the pot).

A (almost) Boiling Kettle of Wort

Add hops and boil for 1 hour.  Cool until below 78 degrees F.

A Package of Hops

Add water until you have 5 gallons total.  Add (“pitch”, in brewers terms) yeast into the mixture and seal in your fermenter.

The Tools of the Trade. The Big Bucket is my Fermenter

In 1 week, move into your secondary fermenter.  In 1 more week, add some priming sugar into the fermenter.  The extra bit of sugar will ferment in each bottle releasing some carbon dioxide which will carbonate the beer.

All Set Up for Bottling

You fill up each bottle individually and then crimp each top.  A 5 gallon batch of beer will usually yield at least 48 – 12oz bottles.  As you can see I try to fill up some 22oz bottles  since it saves a little bit of time when it comes to capping.

Some Bottles Ready for Filling

In two weeks, you have delicious beer!  The original specific gravity was 1.052 (a measure of how much sugar was there pre-fermentation) with a final specific gravity of 1.014 (a measure of how much sugar is left.  The change in this value means that some sugars were changed into alcohol.  This is the miracle of fermentation!).  This predicts that is has an ABV of about 5.1%

The Beer. Luna approves.

I was pretty pleased on how this batch turned out.  It has a slight citrus flavor up front and a banana-eqsue finish to it.  If you’re in the Dallas, TX region and want a sample, just let me know!


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The Bottle Shop

Wednesday is devoted to places we’ve gone and things we’ve done while we’re living here in Texas.

Since moving to Texas I have been somewhat disappointed in the availability of good local and craft beer.  You’d figure with the rise in popularity of good beer (read: not yellow fizzy water) and the Texas way of freedom, liberties, etc. this would be a great beer state.  However, this does not appear to be true.  Sure, you can get your big mainstream “craft” breweries like Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn, Rogue, and the like, but no real good local or semi-local beer seems to find it’s way to the shelves around here.  This is partially due to some ridiculous rules and regulations put out by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) the restricts what you can import into the state of Texas.  It’s also partially due to the city of Dallas and TABC working really hard to make sure that no precious land in the city of Dallas can be used to brew beer (an entire post unto itself).  The good news is that right down the street from where we live a great new store/bar has sprung up and is now a regular favorite.

The Bottle Shop on Greenville Ave

You can see from the front that they’ve set up in a nice old building.  They’ve done a great job renovating it and giving it a new feeling as well.  In the evenings they set up tables and chairs out in front to enjoy a nice patio beer (when it’s not 110 degrees as it seems to be lately).  When you step inside you’re greeted by a few comfy leather chairs, a handful of tables and chairs, and this great wall of choice beers.

This is what I like to see

They stock several hundred different varieties from a lot of different breweries from around the world.  They have it sorted out by geographical region of where the beer is brewed.  What’s even better is they have 2 beer experts that you can talk to and get suggestions.  I found this to be a good way to force myself to try something new instead of sticking with what I already know.  The prices are just as good if not better than what you’d find the beer at a grocery store like Whole Foods or Central Market.  In addition to being able to buy some great beer to take home with you, they also have a nice bar setup.

A good selection of cold beer and rotating taps

You can grab a pint from their frequently changing taps or ask for a chilled beer out of the cooler.  All in all this has been a great find and has kept us well stocked in delicious beer.


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