Dogfish Head: 120 Minute IPA (USA: IIPA/Barley Wine: 18% ABV)

(Bottled 2009, drunk 2010)

Visual: Intense ruddy red with a surprising sturdy head of bubbles considering the ABV. Clear and bright. Washing up suds look to the bubbles left on the glass after a swirl.

Nose: Lime, mass of dry hops and wheat, lots of wheat. Light floral aroma. Wood shavings. Tiny hint of jiff lemon. As it warms in you hand you get barley and syrup sweetness, slight musty mothballs, then into cloying cream. It really plays with the range as it warms.

Body: Strawberries, insane sweetness, jam tarts. Thick textured. Grapefruit and hops. Lots of cloying cream, passion fruit, custard. Light lemon meringue. Toffee.

Finish: Hops and light bitterness mixed with hardboiled fruit sweet residue. Resin and lemon.

Conclusion: Calls itself an IPA, listed on ratebeer as a Barley Wine, and feels very much a mix of the two. Massively sweet, strawberry jam in huge doses mixes with wonderful grapefruit touches. It is a brilliant range, with a great but not overpowering hop character. This is an odd mix of intense flavours and yet together it works as a relaxing beer that sooths you to rest.

I have an amazing amount of time for this, its not your standard IPA – the balance between sweet and hops makes it eminently drinkable for a long time ,where each element by itself would have worn out its welcome. In fact only the high ABV holds you back on this.

Feels like the refinement and explosion of the varied American IPA styles that are then all condensed into one bottle.