Without a doubt my favorite beer of all time is Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA. 9% abv and 90 IBUs. Perfection.
To find a bottle of this beer I currently have to drive at least six hours to get to a state where it is distributed, so I decided to try brewing an extract version of this beer last weekend to see if I could make some for myself. There are a couple of recipes for this beer out there online, but they are mostly partial-mash and all-grain recipes. I was able to find one beer recipe that converted the partial mash into an extract recipe, so I went with their recommendations.
Finding an Extract Recipe
The ingredients called for in the extract procedure that I found required all dry malt extract (DME) for the boil, with a few pounds of crushed grain being steeped at the start. There was some controversy online about what type of malt to use – pilsener? Light? When I went down to the local home brewing store that was solved for me – they were wiped out of DME. Not ideal. I could have driven across town to a different brew store, or I could have ordered some online, but with a baby due any day now I wanted to get the brew done. The original recipe called for 8 pounds of DME, but I ended up with 9.15 pounds of liquid malt extract (LME), which is less efficient than its dry counterpart, and a pound of DME. The liquid extract does not produce as much fermentable sugar as the dry, but I was not sure what the exact conversion was at the time. The amount of specialty grains being steeped is pretty huge compared to what I usually use, so I was hoping that would also compensate some.
This is what I ended up brewing with. The expected original gravity of the beer was said to be between 1.080 and 1.088. The batch I made came out at 1.072. Oops. I am guessing that this would have come out closer to the expected gravity if I had used all DME instead of LME. The beer will be less alcoholic than it is supposed to be, but we will see how the flavor compares.
Here is the procedure I ended up using to brew the extract clone of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA:
1 tsp Irish Moss
-A day ahead of time begin a yeast starter. Usually it is recommended that you create a 2 Liter yeast starter for expected original gravity of 1.080 or higher, which I did. This used 1 cup of golden light DME and 4 cups of water to create some “wort” for the yeast to begin working on so that it could multiply and be ready for the heavy-duty wort it would have to ferment after the brew. I also used a stir plate for the first time to encourage even more growth of the yeast, and I loved it!
-Steep 1.5 pounds of 2-Row grain and 1.7 pounds of Amber grain (27°L) at 150°F for 20 minutes.
-Bring to boil and add 9.15 pounds of Gold LME and 1.o pound of Golden Light DME.
-Boil for 20 minutes before adding hops. This helps to rid the wort of extra proteins that hinder hop utilization, so hops will be used more efficiently when they are added.
-Mix all of the boiling hops together. Start the 90 minute boil, and add the mixed hops evenly throughout the boil. Dogfish Head has a shaker set up to continuously add hops throughout the 90 minutes. What I found recommended, and what I did, is to add 1/4 oz of hops every 8 minutes throughout the 90 minute boil. This works well.
-Add 1 tsp of Irish Moss with 15 minutes remaining in the boil.
-Cool the wort as rapidly as possible. For a five gallon batch it is easiest to do this with an immersion wort chiller. An ice bath can work but is not recommended because it is inefficient and can cause side effects such as off-flavors in the beer because of this.
-Place in primary fermentor 1-2 weeks, until fermentation stops. (It has been bubbling like crazy for three days as I write this).
-Transfer to secondary fermentor and add dry hops for 5-7 days.
Thoughts After Brewing
It is obvious that there are improvements that can be made to this recipe. I was short on time and wanted to give it a shot, so we’ll see how the above procedure comes through. Once I try the beer I will come back and update this post.
Update: Thoughts on the Finished Product
We left this beer in the primary fermentor for two weeks and then racked it to a secondary fermentor for what ended up being three weeks. The dry hops were in the secondary for about five days, I think (it’s all a little fuzzy because we had a couple-day-old newborn in the house by then).
For the first few weeks after bottling I was worried. After two weeks of bottle conditioning I tried one, knowing that it would probably still be a little green, but the aroma of the beer was awful. I was very worried that there was some type of infection in the beer. If you have tried the real 90 Minute IPA you know that it has an almost sweet aroma. The way most avid beer drinkers describe it, and I apologize if you have not heard this before since you will think of it every time you drink the beer, is the aroma of cat urine. That is the smell that the hop style is supposed to give the beer though, so that is a good thing. This beer did not smell like that. It smelled like garbage. I gave it a try anyway and the taste was actually pretty decent.
I had a friend try a different bottle of it on the same day and he had the same results. I saw some potential in it and I didn’t taste any off-flavors so I decided to wait a little longer to see what would happen.
Now, a month on, the beer is fantastic. It does not quite have the same potency of the real thing, which is expected since I did not convert the measurements for the malt extract precisely. It also lacks a little bit of the aroma out of the glass. I think this might have something to do with the duration of the dry hopping. I have read all kinds of ideas about how long to dry hop: one day, three days, five days, seven days….I will just have to try some different durations in the future.
The taste of this clone is awesome. You can tell that it is not the real thing but you can also tell that it is close. I will try a few tweaks on the ingredients in the future and probably get it closer. It would probably be easier to achieve the exact flavor by brewing it all-grain or partial-mash, but I have some satisfaction from making a pretty good clone using extract brewing methods 🙂
Do you have any recommendations for improving this extract clone of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA?