Nuclear Penguin aka 120 Minute IPA clone

Last July I took on the monumental challenge of cloning Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA. I documented the entire process here and it turned out really well. It tastes just like the older 20%+ ABV versions of 120 Minute. Mine topped out at 21.1% calculated ABV, but considering volatilization of alcohol, I called it 20% for good measure. I drank a few bottles, gave away a few bottles, and now have about 30 left that I'm going to stash away for a long time to mature.

After brewing this beer, I'll admit, it really shouldn't be called an IPA. It's brewed in the spirit of an IPA since it has a ton of hops, but the beer doesn't taste anything like an IPA. The aroma is mostly malt and alcohol. You can smell the hops, but they certainly take a back seat. The taste is the same: there's only some hop flavor and very little bitterness. So I've been thinking about how to make this beer better or I should say, closer to an IPA. Pliny the Younger is arguably the best example of a really huge Imperial IPA (Triple IPA). I want a beer with that level of hop presence, just more alcohol. So my goal is to find a middle ground between Younger and 120 Minute, almost as if PTY and 120 minute had a hoppy love child.

Dogfish Head uses the same fermentation process to create their big beers such as World Wide Stout, Raison D'Extra, 120 Minute, and Fort. They brew a beer around 25 plato or so (1.100), and pitch their normal yeast. As that ferments out, they then pitch a super high-gravity yeast strain, and begin incrementally feeding the beer additional fermentables, usually in the form of corn sugar. This process could be applied to any 'base' beer; 120 minute applies the process to the 90 Minute recipe. What if we started with something more along the lines of my Furry Penguin DIPA recipe, and then apply the 120 Minute treatment to it! So here are the changes I'll be making to the original 120 minute recipe

-First: Less Alcohol
    It was really fun to take a beer as high as possible without distillation, but the alcohol and malt character absolutely dominate the flavor. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't taste like an IPA. I'm thinking an OG around 1.135 would be much better, rather than 1.182. That will bring the beer in around 14-15% ABV.

-Second: Dry it out
    I want this beer to be as dry as possible. As any who's tried 120 Minute knows, it's a sweet, syrupy, almost sticky candy-like beer. All that sweetness masks the hop aroma, and makes the beer much less drinkable. My 120 clone finished at 1.021, I'd like to see this beer closer to 1.010. That's not quite as dry as it sounds because alcohol affects hydrometer readings, but still much drier than before

-Third: Hops. Much more hops!
    I really want this beer to drink like a big IPA. Even though I used 12oz of hops in the boil for my 120 Minute clone, I want way more. I'm planing on 100AAU of hops just for bittering. 72AAU continuously hopped from 20 to 0min and 54AAU at flame out. That's around 16.5oz of high alpha hops just in the boil.

-Fourth: Hop Extract
    Russian River uses CO2-extracted hop extract to bitter Pliny. This stuff isn't isomerised, so it still contains all the oils and volatiles of normal hops. They literally just extract all the resins from the hop, and leave behind the vegetal matter. It's pretty cool stuff. There are a bunch of benefits for a beer like this.

I want around 100AAU of bittering hops, which is a metric ass-ton in a five gallon batch (6oz of 17%AA Warrior!) Unfortunately, hop extract isn't readily available to the home brewer. Northern Brewer sells an extract called HopShot, but they don't say how many grams of alpha acids are in each syringe, and their bitterness calculations leave something to be desired. Thankfully Hop Union had some nice formulas, and I was able to calc out the info I needed. 100AAU is 27.9 grams of alpha acids or 5.8oz of a 17% AA hop. Hop extract is ~55% AA by weight and there is ~1ml/g of extract. So 5ml of extract contains ~2.75g of AA. Moral of the story is, I need 45-50ml of hop extract to replace 6oz or Warrior, which nets a huge savings of wort. There's also the benefit of not cooking 6oz of hops for 90-120 minutes, which will cut down on the grassy, vegetal flavors in this beer. All in all, making it more Pliny like.

-Fifth: Differnt Hops
    I love the flavor and aroma of the hop combination in my Furry Penguin DIPA, which is Amarillo, Simcoe, and Citra. 120 minute already uses a lot of Amarillo and Simcoe, so the addition of Citra is the only change. I see no benefit in adding these hops early in the boil, so I'll continuously hop them from 20min to 0min.

-Sixth: Even more hops!
    I'm going to do a huge flame out addition, as well as a massive dry hop. 4.5oz at flame out, and 9oz of hops dry hopped in the secondary.

Whew, that was a lot of words to explain a recipe, so here's the consolidated version:

6 gallons
17lbs 2-row
1lb Munich
8oz Victory
8oz C20
Mashed @ 147* for 90 minutes
1lb Dextrose in the boil
2 hr boil

45ml of HopShot hop extract @ 90min (or 6oz Warrior)
6oz (2oz ea) Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra continuously hopped from 20min to 0min
4.5oz (1.5oz ea) Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra at flame out
Target OG: 1.105

WLP007 - Dry English Ale yeast for the initial ferment
WLP099 - Super high gravity yeast once the 007 is done
4.5lbs of Dextrose added over the course of 7 days.
Once primary fermentation is complete, rack to secondary
Dry hop five times over the course of 4 weeks with 1.8oz per addition(mix of amarillo, simcoe, citra)

So that's the plan. I'll try to brew this around July, which will be exactly a year after I brewed my first 120 minute clone. I'm hoping for something unique. I know it's only January and that seems like a long way off, but there's a number of other beers I want to brew first. Stay tuned for the brew day of this batch. I'll take a bunch of pictures and try to document the process.

That's a bunch of booze
P.S: I had to do a ton of digging to find the info I needed on those Northern Brewer HopShot syringes. Their little bitterness chart means absolutely nothing to me because calculated bitterness varies so much based on equipment and formula. I calced out that each syringe contains basically 10AAU. In other words, each 5ml syringe is equivalent to 1oz of a 10% AA hop. Lord only knows why NB couldn't put that info on their website, and save us all the effort.


  1. Breweing a version of this (Paxton's grain bill with everything else from this). 6 gallon batch, boiled down to 5.25. Lost an extra 1.25 gallons from the boil hops (bag), so 4 gallons in the primary. Would this push the dry hops you have spec'd out to 80% (7.2 ounces instead of 9)?

    1. Ya, I think you'd be fine with 7oz of hops at that point. Let me know how it turns out! A few people on HBT brewed something similar to this recipe, and had some great results.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Scott, have you tried just putting your bittering (and finish hops for that matter) in a large mesh bag during the boil? I do this on all my big IPAs and lose much less wort this way. You just have to make sure the hops have plenty of room (so like the 12-inchx36-inch bags) and tie them off like a tea bag. Then just keep smashing them down during the boil somewhat like a tea bag. Then, prior to chilling and after flame out, I just remove the bag and put it in a colander inside another pot. Then I squeeze it using insulated gloves and pour the wort I collected back in the boil pot. Of course, you still lose a little wort, but you don't get the giant split pea soup common of massive IPAs. For my big (12-14% DIPAs) I will routinely put 4-6 total pounds of hops in a 12ish gallon batch. As long as you use large bags I get great utilization and minimal loss. The best result is I also get massive hop character (I won't flinch at using a pound of Apollo to bitter, for example). This technique also works well for me using whole, fresh hops. Each year I make a harvest imperial IPA out of the hops I grow at home. I just use a larger mesh bag and steep them in the boil kettle and then strain them. It always comes out excellent.

  3. Have you developed a recipe to clone World Wide yet or something like Avery's Uncle Jacobs Stout? I am currently trying to take my time to develop the recipe and plan appropriately so I can schedule a brew date.

    1. I haven't. You can absolutely apply the Corn Sugar/Super-High Gravity Yeast technique to any base beer though. I would plan to have the base beer start out around 1.100. Mash very low (145*) for at least 75 minutes to encourage high attenuation.

      Ferment that with your base yeast (the yeast you want the flavor from), such as WLP001(US05), WLP002, or WLP007. Once fermentation is starting to slow down, pitch a massive starter of WLP099 and start feeding it corn sugar every day.

      If you just want a massive Imperial Stout, take any Imperial stout recipe you like, and ratchet up the ABV using the corn sugar/WLP099 method.

      If you want an exact clone of Dogfish WWS, you'll have to do a little more digging into their recipe...

    2. No, I'm all grain here and have been using beer smith to design recipes and was planning on using the sugar/high grab yeast method with a very malty barley overdosed imperial stout recipe and see how it goes. I have a hybrid Imperial IPA/Barleywine style recipe that might be a good candidate for the boost as well as it tastes like 120 but isn't as syrupy...I would love to try your stuff though. sounds awesome.

  4. Did you ever make this? What happened?


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