At Wilmington Brew Works, which opened in August in Delaware (from left) Derek Berekely, COO; Keith Hughes, CFO; and Dan Yopp, Cellerman.
by Phil Galewitz
Dogfish Head’s 60-Minute IPA and 90-Minute IPA are terrific beers, among my all-time favorite hoppy beers. But blended together into the 75-minute IPA creates a truly unique brew that’s beloved since its beginning as a conditioned ale in 2011.
This year’s batch which became available in late October was brewed with maple syrup from Dogfish Head founder and CEO Sam Calagione’s family farm, continually hopped during the entire boil, and then dry hopped with a slew of cascade hops. Golden amber in color, it’s malty and earthy with citrusy-piney notes, balanced with subtle maple notes. From the Groucho glasses that adorned the label to its slightly dry and lingering bitterness, 75 Minute is beloved by many. The Milton, DE brewery is selling the 75 minute for the first time in 12-oz 6-packs.
Part of the allure of the latest 75-minute IPA is not just the taste but the new artsy label. “Creative beer labels have become a fun focal point of the craft beer scene, defining brands and bringing beers to life through visuals,” Calagione said. “Since 2008, we’ve been collaborating with wildly inventive illustrators from around the world, and I couldn’t be more excited to continue the tradition Michael Hacker, as we visually share new stories about our inventive beers.”
Off-Centered Art Series artist Michael Hacker created the artwork for the beers. As a freelance illustrator, Hacker finds inspiration for his Art Series illustrations by learning the unique and compelling stories behind each beer, then bringing them to life visually in his own style. Since 75 Minute IPA is a combination of two Dogfish innovations in continual hopping, Hacker wanted to artfully portray the brewing process with Calagione as the original mad scientist of the early craft beer movement. His imaginative style incorporates a few hidden gems, including a “funny glasses” disguise that was part of the original Johnny Cask packaging artwork.
“The fake glasses and rubber nose disguise are a nod to the original 75 Minute label design, and to make things a little weirder, I added a brain whispering into the scientist’s ear, along with a Delaware Blue Hen (the state bird of Delaware) watching the whole scene thirstily,” Hacker said. The 75-minute IPA is the first of four Off-Centered Art Series beers that Dogfish Head will roll out over the next 18 months.
Hellbender Brewing, which doesn’t get the attention it deserves behind DC Brau, 3 Stars and Atlas Brewing in Washington DC, is flexing its muscles and putting its flagship Bare Bones Kolsch in cans. The Kolsch is one of the smoothest beers made in the DC area and should be a big seller in cans year round. Ignite IPA, extended Fall/Winter seasonal Red Line American Red, and a selection of seasonals and one-offs is also being put in cans.
Hellbender, which celebrated its 4th anniversary Nov. 10 is also releasing an 11.1% triple IPA called Beyond the Infinite.CEO Ben Evans said the beer is heavily dry hopped with wet hop hop hash and lots of El Dorado hops as well. The hop hash was gathered from the hop processing facility and sent overnight to us from Willamette Valley Hops in Oregon.
Hellbender will also launch a double IPA hopped with Vic Secret hops called Double Chazzwazzer in cans on its anniversary along with a barrel aged Wee Heavy Scotch ale called Groundskeeper Islay (aged 10 months in local One Eight Distilling rye whiskey barrels).
In mid-November, it will release Grampus Smoked Nut Brown ale made with applewood/cherrywood-smoked malt from Copper Fox Distillery in both cans and kegs.
Atlas Brew Works has just released SFW – an Imperial double Black IPA that’s dark and delicious and 9.2%. “Not a beer to bring home to mom,” the brewery says, unless mom likes big dark beers. NSFW features criminal hop bitterness and a dank pine aroma. Only a limited number of cases available at the DC brewery.
Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, VA has released its Brut IPA, an impossibly dry, effervescent ale saturated with hop aromas. Old Ox has added Vidal blanc grape juice to the brew to give it a vinous flavor. Its available in 16-oz 4-packs. Old Ox is also bringing back its X-Ray Specs, a hoppy delight made with Red X malts, Mosaic hops and a dash of rye.
Making use of some Crystal hops from Hop Head Farms in Baroda, MI, DC Brau has made Crystallion, a 5.3%. hazy pale gold IPA that reveals flavors of fresh cut grass, lemon, and honeydew. The brewery will offer 4-packs of 12-oz cans ($11.99/pk), with a limited supply of draft, exclusively in the tasting room. Crystal is a hop variety that is widely known, but doesn’t always get the respect it deserves,” says DC Brau Co-founder and Brewmaster Jeff Hancock. “It has attractive notes of lemon, orange peel and lemongrass balanced by a noble, woodsy character. The simple malt bill of this beer lets the hops be the star of the pint.”
Much like grapes, hops derive flavors and aromas from the terroir where they’re grown. Michigan-grown Crystal hops, which tend to have a more rounded profile with a distinct lemon note.
“Hop Head Farms has a great team – with great noses,” says Chris Graham, DC Brau’s production manager who personally made the trip to pick up the 300 pounds of hops. “They have been dependable partners who we trust to make difficult decisions during hop selection overseas, and we’re excited to be using their Crystal hops literally just off the vine for this project.”
As if anyone needs another reason to try Optimal Wit, Port City Brewing Co.’s flagship beer, the brew took a silver medal in the Belgian-Style Witbier category at the Great American Beer Festival in September. It won gold in 2013 and bronze in 2015.
“Bringing home a medal from GABF is the highest honor in American craft beer,” said owner Bill Butcher. “Each year, the competition gets stiffer, so it’s extremely gratifying to see our team’s hard work being recognized at this level.” Optimal Wit is a classic Belgian-style witbier brewed with orange peel, coriander, and Grains of Paradise, as well as Virginia-grown raw wheat. Port City is debuting a new draft-only tasting room event series featuring vintage and barrel-aged versions of some of its popular beers. The Cellar Series will showcase the complexity and depth that can be developed through the careful aging of beer. “Barrel-aging beer is an outlet for the brewing team to innovate and push the creative limit,” says lead brewer Adam Reza II.
The Cellar Series will feature a range of high-gravity base beers well-suited to aging, including, as Reza says, such highlights as, “Colossal One, our Belgian imperial stout, aged in Woodford Reserve barrels and our Tidings Ale, a strong, spicy Belgian-style blonde ale brewed with wildflower honey aged in an Ingleside Chardonnay puncheon.”
Starting this month, the tasting room will host regular Cellar Series events featuring deep cuts amassed from over seven years of brewing. “We have set aside some of our more limited release, higher ABV beers over the past couple of years,” says Manager Tim Quintyn. “Some have gone in barrels, while others we let sit and age on their own. They’re primed to be enjoyed now, so we’re excited to share these with our fans.”
Event dates are Friday, Nov. 9: 2017 COLOSSAL 6; Wednesday, Nov. 21: Cognac Barrel-Aged COLOSSAL 5 w/ Brettanomyces; Friday, Nov. 23: Catoctin Creek Barrel-Aged COLOSSAL 6; Sunday, Dec. 9: Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Tidings; Friday, December 21: Knob Creek Barrel-Aged Porter; Sunday, Dec. 23: Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Tidings and Wednesday, Dec. 26: Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Tidings.
Old Bust Head Brewery in Warrenton, VA has brought back its Apple Cinnamon Winter Wheat, a blend of its Belgian Wit and Chinquapin Chestnut Porter. Conditioned on apples, toasted cinnamon sticks, and spices this brew will leave you thinking of freshly baked pie.
DuClaw Brewing in Baltimore has released Day of Retribution, the vintage style and variant bottles of the bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. Retribution is a blend of dark chocolate, coffee, and fruit flavors that conceals a warming 11.5%. Six months aging in bourbon barrels infuses the beer with notes of oak, caramelized sugar, and vanilla, creating a smoky, sophisticated imperial stout. Special versions include chocolate cherry, pumpkin and cocoa and chili bottles.