The Beer Nut: In breathless anticipation of 75 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head
The Dive Bar opened at its usual 6 p.m. last Thursday. But even before then, a small group of men stood in the rain outside of the Worcester watering hole, waiting for the door to open.
By 6:15 p.m., the bar was standing room only, and by 7 p.m., you couldn't hear anything other than someone talking right next to you.
I was one of the people waiting for the door to open, so I was lucky enough to have a seat at the bar.
We weren't there just to grab any old drink on the way home from work.
No, we were there for a special event: the new release of Dogfish Head's latest member of its Minute series of beers the 75 Minute IPA (India pale ale).
We weren't the only ones gathered at a bar for this beer select bars in Boston and other locations in Massachusetts, Philadelphia and New York City all had the 75 Minute IPA. All kegs were to be tapped at the same time - 7:50 p.m. - as part of the "simulcask."
"We don't do any conventional advertising, so we decided to do this," said Dogfish Head owner and president Sam Calagione, whose grandmother lives in Milford. "We decided to have everyone raise a pint all of the hardcore people in the hardcore beer bars and the hardcore beer cities at one time."
The 75 Minute IPA had been a popular mixed beer at the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Del., for years, he said. Customers would often ask bartenders to blend the 90 Minute IPA - which is a double IPA with a huge malt backbone - and the 60 Minute IPA - a single IPA which is drier and more bitter.
The result was a "super balanced IPA," Calgione said.
To make it different than the blend at the bar, Calagione and the rest of his crew at the Delaware brewery decided to make the 75 Minute IPA a cask-conditioned ale meaning it's a living beer with no artificial carbonation created by carbon dioxide or nitrogen pumps.
Dogfish Head created a new fermenter, named " Johnny Cask", to handle the beer, which is brewed with a "liberal dosing" of maple syrup to get the carbonation needed. The syrup came from Calagione's family farm in Montague, Mass.
At the Dive Bar, the band made an announcement 10 minutes before the firkin was tapped. A firkin is actually a British term of measurement, but now is the term used for the container of cask-conditioned beers. It holds 10.8 gallons. The Dive Bar had two firkins.
When bar owner Alec Lopez tapped the firkin, the crowd cheered, and he and other bartenders rushed to fill the special Dogfish Head pint glasses and hand them out to the crowd.
Dogfish sent 75 pint glasses to each bar that participated in the "simulcask," and the first 75 people to get a pint of 75 Minute IPA got to keep the glass. I snagged one. I was about the 30th person to be served. Now I have a new Dogfish Head pint glass to add to my small collection at home, so now I have two different pint glasses and a snifter.
The first firkin was kicked, or tapped out, within 18 minutes. The second lasted a little longer the last pint was drawn around 10 p.m.
I was lucky enough to get two pints.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is one of my all-time favorite beers, and I often have the 60 Minute at home, so I was curious to see how it would work.
I enjoyed it. There was a big hop aroma right away, and it was relatively smooth. The natural carbonation gives the beer a different type of mouthfeel, but it worked with the 75 Minute IPA.
At $6 a pint, I'd definitely buy it again if I saw it at a bar, and be interested to see how it tasted when it was brewed in the more traditional manner of bottled beers.
The people around me seemed to enjoy it. A local beer distributor was next to me, and he had a look of joy on his face as he said, "This is good," after taking his first sip.
Calagione said he hopes to follow up the "simulcask" event in the future.
"Hopefully we'll do something every year," he said.
If they do, I'll make sure to be at the closest bar to give it a try.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/.