Occasionally one will come across a beer that is so big it will dwarf any dish. The American Craft Beer Industry is pushing the limits of beer by imperializing every style on the board, from Pilsner’s to IPA’s and the standard Imperial Stout. Bitterness keeps on rising, well above the 100 mark on the IBU scale and now quickly approaching 200. I can’t imagine where the top of the chart will be. Recently I was lucky enough to find the coveted Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, a beer that is not easily located. During my trip to Beers of the World I purchased two bottles of 120 so that I could see what all the hype is all about. At $10.50 per 12 ounce bottle, I figured the beer inside must be one magic elixir. Pushing 20% ABV, this beer treads a bit outside the standard characteristics of a traditional IPA, but that’s Dogfish Head for you. Now, I figured that the beer was almost 20% alcohol, that it would be far to big to try to pair and I was dead on. I had planned several days ahead for the night I would enjoy this beer, I kept dinner light and my quantity of beers low previous to this one. To the basement I went and emerged with the 120, which seemed almost historical, I had heard and read so much about it. I pulled a snifter out of the pantry, cracked the bottle and took a whiff. Wow! What a pungent aroma, so full of alcohol, it was very forward on the nose. Hops and malt where also very noticeable upon the first smell. Once poured I inspected the beer, it was gorgeous, so appealing. It was crystal clear, with a deep, amber hue and well built tan head. It looked marvelous. I took another whiff, which changed much after being decanted, the alcohol settled a bit and smelled more like port wine or sherry. The first taste was not what I expected, very sweet and buttery from the excessive alcohol. The malt was very strong as well and it wasn’t as bitter as I had expected. This beer was less like an IPA and more like a Barley Wine. There was a very long finish, given the sweetness of the malt and the beverage warmed the throat on the way down, much like port wine or even bourbon. This was not at all what I expected, it was way to big to even be called an IPA. Once I realized this was not at all a Pale Ale of any sorts and mentally renamed it a barley wine, I very much enjoyed the rest of the beer.