|Vince Capano is a two time winner of the prestigious Quill and Tankard
writing award for humor from the North American Guild of Beer Writers.
Vince's column is now a regular feature of beernexus.com
Check back often for the next installment of
Vince's Adventures in Beerland
| The Legend of Dogfish 120
by Vince Capano
What’s illegal in Georgia, is brewed only three times a year, comes in at a huge
18% ABV, boasts 120 IBUs, is continuously hopped with high alpha American
hops, then dry hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another
month on whole leaf hops? If you said Budweiser or Coors stop reading here and
confess your sins to your favorite bartender. No, the answer can only be Dogfish
Head 120. This is the holy grail of big beer loving hop heads (the working title of
my autobiography). And yes, I just had it at The Tap Room in the Somerset Hills
Hotel in Warren, NJ.
I had received an anonymous tip on my always open 24 hours a day, 365 days a
year beer hotline (translation: my friend Art e-mailed me). Art wrote that I should
get to The Tap Room as quickly as possible before the word got out they had just
tapped their entire supply of Dogfish 120 - a single sixtel. Clearly it was time to
drop everything and get there before the multitude of beer geeks that frequent the
place got the word and made my dream of having this beer on tap one of the pipe
Now, I have to admit that when it came to keeping this information below the radar
I was more lumbering Airbus than stealth bomber. My first call went to my beer
buddy Kevin who is known as “Mr. Wee-Heavy” (fortunately for his favorite beer,
not his weight). Kevin’s first response was “ahhhh……I’m afraid of that beer”.
Yes, and I’m afraid of the dentist, the dark, and the IRS but we have to deal with it.
With the logic of my argument irrefutable how could I not have convinced him to
hustle down to the Tap Room? He was on the way. My next call went to another
pal, Arnie, who had achieved some local fame not only knowing everything there is
to know about Brettanomyces yeast but for also being able to spell it. His first
reaction on hearing the news was to graciously say “I hope we don’t have to step
over the fallen bodies of Bud drinkers who ordered a glass of this by mistake”.
Arnie is clearly a practical individual.
It took a bit of prodding but I was able to have Arnie promise to limit his calls to
less than 10, or maybe he said 100, of his other beer geeks friends. At this point
it didn’t matter. Enlightened self interest took over; no more calls from me to
anyone (sorry, Mom). They were on their own and I was on my way to the Tap
There was already a palatable buzz in the Tap Room when I arrived. I surveyed
the fifteen or so people at the bar noting that a majority had a goblet filled with a
slightly hazy, golden liquid in front of them. The 120 was selling quickly. It soon
became clear that the buzz I first noticed was now increasing in direct proportion
to the buzz the customers were getting from their 120s. The noise continued to
grow as I caught the bartender’s eye. No way would she hear me so I held up first
one finger, then two, then a clenched fist hoping this was one bartender who was
either a former basketball referee or a worker on the floor of the stock exchange.
My hand signals were understood as I had my glass of 120 in less than 30
seconds. Now I could relax.
After more than a few sips I began to remember my professional responsibility as
a beer writer. This was a great opportunity to get a few candid opinions from
those drinking the 120 and use them in an article. If it all worked out I might even
be able to write this tab off my income taxes, not to mention make literary history
and give the Pulitzer Prize awards committee something to think about. My tour
about the bar was on.
First up was Jay who told me he had ordered the beer “to push the envelope”.
His girlfriend Kathleen said she had previously enjoyed the Dogfish Head 60 and
90 minute and “was curious to go to the next level”. Sound, level headed beer
lovers for sure, but come on guys, your reasons are, in a word, dull. Jack was
more original. He said he ordered the 120 because “one glass of this stuff is the
equal of four lousy ones.” He explained that his reasoning was based in math. “I
would have to drink four cans of Coors Light to equal the calories (450) and
alcoholic content of one Dogfish 120.” Fortunately I had a calculator with me.
Jack was right.
Tom, a guy two bar stools away, shouted to no one in particular, “this 120 is too
good for most of you. You can’t handle the truth.” Scratch him from my interview
Karl was next. He asked what was going on and I gave him the thirty second
explanation. Intrigued with the concept of such a beer as the 120 he asked the
bartender for a taste to which she gently replied, “this is a beer you either want or
you don’t. Forget about getting a taste. It’s a full glass or nothing.” That drew not
only understanding nods but a decent amount of applause from the crowd. This
was one serious group.
Mel told me he was also at the Tap Room for the first pour of the day at noon. He
was one of four early birds who knew about the 120. “Don’t ask me how, I just
knew”. Mel explained he had two glasses of 120 then saw the warning on the
beer menu – “Limit of Two”. Being a law abiding citizen he hustled back to work
only to return for two more in the evening. “Hey, they mean two per visit.” Eva,
Greg’s friend, asked if returning from the restroom counted as a new visit. This
was a perfectly matched couple for sure.
I moved on to Craig who sat with two hands tightly holding his goblet of 120. His
reason – “I’m warming the beer up. As it warms you’ll get flavors that are
amazing.” I thought of offering him the Bunsen burner I always carry in the trunk of
my car but figured that by his second 120 he really wouldn’t care what the
Charlie said the 120 “drank like a beer not liquor.” I think I understood what he
meant. Maybe. I moved on to Janet who said “I hope I don’t get cut off.” Ah, Janet
you’re drinking Amstel Light so I think you’re safe. And for the record, Marv didn’t
say anything. His eloquent silence told me it was time to get back to my seat and
order my second 120.
As I finished my drink I began to wrestle with the two glass limit myself. Thinking of
Jack’s belief that math held the answer every question I took out my trusty
calculator. It only took a few manipulations to understand exactly why
management mandated the limit.
Three times 120 is 360........ that would really make your head spin.
|The Legend of Dogfish 120