60 Minute IPA vs 90 Minute IPA – History, Taste, Ingredients

The 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA are two of America’s most beloved IPAs produced by the acclaimed Delaware brewery Dogfish Head, which recently celebrated 25 years + as a legend in the craft beer scene of the US.

One is an Imperial IPA while the other is a very sessionable IPA, both named after the length of the boil.

The Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA recently featured pretty high up the list of the 25 Most Important American Craft Beers ever brewed by the respected Food & Wine magazine, alongside other luminaries such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Allagash White, Heady Topper, etc.

I remember the first time I tried a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, it was one of the first Imperial IPAs I ever sampled.

Although it boasts a staggering 90 IBUs of bitterness, I was pleasantly surprised by the balance of rich pine and fruity citrus hop aromas with that strong malt backbone making it not too bitter a beer.

A pungent yet unapologetic flavor, Esquire magazine calls it “perhaps the best IPA in America”.

A bit more research into what made this beer so beautifully balanced revealed a revolutionary continuous hopping process that has carried over to the 60 Minute IPA too.

What are the main differences between the 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA and what exactly makes these beers taste so great?

Which Came First, Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA or the 90 Minute IPA?

First released in 2001, the monster of 9% ABV beer which is Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA can proudly take the title of the oldest surviving member of the x Minute IPA family.

There was a short-lived 75 Minute IPA but the series of beers is now limited to the 60 Minute, 90 Minute, and seasonally released Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA.

Although sequels are rarely as good as the original there can be some exceptions – think The Empire States Back or The Godfather Part 2 in the movie world.

In the beer world, the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA is perhaps the most notable exception to this rule with the 60 Minute IPA now outselling its older sibling and becoming the top-selling beer of the Dogfish Head Brewery.

Released in 2003, Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA took the idea of continuously hopping the beer for the entire period of the boil first introduced by the 90 Minute IPA two years earlier.

As the name suggests, the boil time was also reduced from 90 minutes to just 60 minutes, and the resulting beer was quite a different-tasting beer.

It was a distinct taste that the US craft beer lovers and critics seemed to approve of, though, with the Wall Street Journal calling Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA the most balanced IPA on the market.

What is Continuous Hopping?

We keep talking about this continuous hopping process, but what exactly is it? Put quite simply, it’s the process of constantly adding hops over the entire boil period of the wort. A bit like the way you continuously season a soup or casserole as it cooks.

It’s funny we should mention cooking a soup, as popular legend has it that Dogfish Head founder and head brewer at the time, Sam Calagione, was inspired to continuously dose the beer with hops after watching a cooking show demo which taught viewers how to perfectly season a soup by continuous peppering throughout the entire cook.

By adding pepper in small but consistent doses, the soup would gain a unique but bold taste with intense savory notes. If it works for soup, why not beer?

The inspiration meant Sam would bring the idea of continuous dosing with hop additions to the brewhouse with 90 Minute IPA being the first continuously hopped beer of the Dogfish Head Brewery.

The portfolio of Dogfish Head beers which are continuously hopped now includes the 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPAs, the original Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale, and Un’Ora Pilsner – a classic Italian pilsner that is continually hopped.

The First (and Only) Imperial IPA Inspired by a Bowl of Soup and a Thrift Store Football Game

We have already explained the bowl of soup analogy but where does a thrift store football game come into the equation?

Again we need to go back to Sam Calagione, who discovered that if an electric thrift store football table was rigged up at just the right angle over the brew kettle it could deliver hops into the wort at a consistent rate.

By covering the “pitch” with hops instead of the usual small dancing football players, as the playing field would vibrate it would shake and shimmy the hops which would cascade down into the boiling wort at a consistent rate, and hence continual hopping was born.

Traditionally, brewers would add hops in two stages – one at the beginning of the boil for bittering and another at the end for aroma.

By adding the hops in equal increments throughout the entire boil process, Sam was able to create an outrageously hoppy IPA without the harsh bitterness often found in some of the more hoppy IPAs.

Sam’s innovation had such an impact on the craft brewing world that Dogfish Head has even contributed that first “continual hopping machine” (read electronic football table!) to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Collections.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA vs 90 Minute IPA – By the Numbers

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA606.0%
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA909.0%

The 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head was one of the first Imperial or Double IPAs widely available across mainstream America. At 9% ABV and with a high bitterness level of 90 IBUs, it pretty much helped define the Double IPA category alongside Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.

Although Pliny the Elder is probably the more well-known of the Double IPAs, and with Russian River’s founder, Vinnie Cilurzo, generally accredited with inventing the Double IPA style, Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA is accepted to be the highest-selling Double IPA in the US, and worldwide too.

This is perhaps due to the fact that Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA is brewed all year round and not in the limited quantities of Pliny the Elder.

Combine this with a distribution network to all 50 of the mainland states and you are never too far away from a Dogfish Head beer. I even found a couple of bottles in my local Trader Joe’s for a very reasonable price.

Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA takes that winning formula of the 90 Minute IP but drops the ABV down to just 6% and the IBUs to 60. It’s almost like the IBUs are added at the rate of one per minute, with even the 120 Minute IPA following suit with 120 IBUs.

In a 2009 YouTube clip, Sam Calagione says “The 60 minute has sort of become the de facto session beer for hardcore hopheads”.

Although at 6% ABV, it’s by no means what most would class as a Session IPA, falling at the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to IPAs and the ABV. It’s really the ultra-balanced taste that makes it so sessionable.

The only other big difference between the 60 Minute IPA and the larger siblings in the series is that the 60 Minute IPA isn’t dry-hopped. Dry-hopping doesn’t tend to add to the bitterness but rather to the aromas and mouthfeel of a beer.

The 90 Minute IPA definitely has a more pungent aroma to it.

60 Minute IPA vs 90 Minute IPA – The Flavors & Aromas

60 Minute IPA

Brewed using a whole load of Northwest hops the 60 Minute IPA has a citrussy, grassy hoppy flavor without being too bitter.

Those 60 hop additions over a 60 minute boil have created a beer that is bursting with citrus fresh hops and floral aromas. This is what an IPA should taste and smell like!

The beer both cleanses and refreshes the palate with wave after wave of citrus hops balanced with pale malts, creating a beer that is both satisfying and thirst-quenching. It’s the perfect beer for a sunny afternoon and goes down smoothly with a crisp and dry finish.

Pouring with a clear golden yellow color, the 60 Minute IPA is almost transparent and features much less body than the 90 Minute IPA, resulting in a lighter, fluffy head nowhere near as dense as that of the 90 Minute IPA.

Although many would argue the aromas can be quite subtle for the amount of hops added, the flavors come through much larger with tropical fruit supported by a bready malt backbone and a hoppy bitter aftertaste.

The hops give it a lot of citrus, fresh pine, and floral bitterness, but the hint of grapefruit and the sweetness of the malt balance out all that bitterness.

Due to the lower malt content of the 60 Minute IPA, the finish tends to be much crisper and drier than the Imperial 90 Minute IPA. It’s perfect for those summer BBQs or even spicy foods, as the hops practically scrub your palate clean with every sip.

With so much flavor, I find you can enjoy this IPA at warmer temperatures of around 54 to 57 F to best enjoy all those flavors and aromas rather than the traditional IPA serving temperature of around 32 to 39 F.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be served cooler. The 60 Minute IPA is the ideal thirst quencher for a hot summer’s day with its almost watery body going down extremely well.

90 Minute IPA

The 90 Minute IPA differs from the 60 Minute IPA in all the ways that you would expect an Imperial IPA to be different from your traditional standard IPA.

The 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head is built on a stronger malt backbone with heavy bitter flavors and hops running throughout the beer. The 90 Minute IPA has even been dry-hopped for an aroma that is still malty but allows the hops to shine through.

Color-wise, the 90 Minute IPA pours with a more copper-orange color than the golden beer of the 60 Minute IPA, with hues of red, mahogany, and caramel too. The pillowy head, although still fluffy, is much denser than the 60 Minute IPA and almost cream-like too.

The aroma is very malt prominent, which is surprising when you consider the continual hopping process and the addition of dry hopping too.

You are first hit with warm and rich malts before this gives way to the smooth bitterness of the hops. It’s also warmer in alcohol, too, at 9%, with a slight whiff of caramel on the nose.

The flavor is where those hops hit big again. You get a nice sweetness from the pale malts before a smooth layer of hops gives flavors of grapefruit, lemon peel, earthy pine, grass, spice, and fresh herbs.

This is a beer for sipping, and as the beer warms it shows more sweetness, almost fruit cake-like, and those hops become more brash and citrusy.

With less carbonation than the 60 Minute IPA, this beer can be less aggressive and less crisp, which can be surprising for an Imperial IPA. However, it does offer a more balanced taste (it has to with all those hops and malt to balance!) with a greater depth of flavor.

Although most hopheads, when choosing an Imperial IPA, want to be crushed by the hoppy bitterness, I feel technically the balance of this beer puts it above most other Double IPAs.

The bitterness is still there but it’s not quite as challenging.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA vs 90 Minute IPA – Which One is Better? Final Thoughts

Although both of these beers from Dogfish Head Brewery use the same continual dry hopping process, they are very different beers in their makeup of flavor and aromas.

The 60 Minute IPA may now be Dogfish Head’s biggest seller, but does that make it a better beer?

Which beer is better for you depends very much on what you are looking for in your IPA. Both the 60 and 90 Minute IPA have enough hops to keep even the most demanding of hopheads happy, but the malt balance in each varies.

If you are looking for a thirst-quenching IPA that goes down smoothly on those hot summer afternoons or at your next BBQ, the 60 Minute IPA is hard to beat. A hop bomb of a beer, it’s remarkably crisp and not too overly bitter that you will want to rip your tongue out.

If you want a beer that is more suited to sipping on a relaxed evening, maybe with a hearty casserole or more sophisticated meals like wild game or raw cheeses, the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is the way to go. The body is softer and smoother than the 60 Minute IPA, but less thirst quenching.

That’s not to say the 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA are not interchangeable.

The 90 Minute will work just as well in the heat if chilled down, although may not be quite as refreshing. And the 60 Minute IPA can gain extra flavors if served slightly warmer for those cooler evenings.

They’re both great beers and, thankfully, with the wide distribution network they enjoy from the merger with the Boston Beer Company in 2019, they are easy to find all over the United States.

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