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Beer Name: Heaven and Hell aka The Ultimate Black & Tan

Brewer: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Style: Blend of DIPA and Imperial Stout

ABV: Since both beers mixed were 18%, stands to reason that this is as well.

Price: $18 or $20 all told – the 12 oz. bottles of WWS and 120 were either $9 or $10 a piece.

What’s better than having two great beers on hand?  How about when those two beers combine to make a third.  That’s what we have going on for today’s review.  Last December I unexpectedly happened upon bottles of World Wide Stout (WWS) and 120 Minute IPA at the local Kappy’s.  As soon as I got them home I thought, gee these would make one hell of a 50/50 and lo and behold it’s apparently a thing.  It took me a little while to find the right night to try this out for myself, but now that I finally did let’s take a look at how it went.

Before mixing the two beers I wanted to get an appreciation of each on its own.  I hadn’t tried the World Wide Stout before so having a half glass of that on its own seemed to be in order.  I knew it was going to be a big beer going in, but that knowledge alone was not quite enough to fully prepare for the experience.  It poured a dark black color out of the bottle with a thin tan head that lightened up somewhat as it faded out to the sides.  The sweet boozy smell is the perfect lead-in to the taste.  The beer starts out rather sweet with dark fruit and malty notes up front, picks up a hint of roastiness, and flows into a hot boozy finish.  As the beer warms up, it smells a bit sweeter but the tastes all blend together very nicely as the beer warms.  The mouthfeel has a much-needed upper medium thickness with only the slightest hint of carbonation around the ends of the sip.  Overall, the beer is definitely something I like, but it’s a bit too hot and sweet to be something I would pick up often.  It packs quite a punch, but wow is it smooth about it.

The other half of this experiment is the 120 Minute IPA.  This is a beer that I’ve had a few times previously, but in the spirit of the tasting I obviously had to try it out on its own.  The half bottle poured out a coppery pale orange color that when pushed yielded a bubbly white head.   The smell was surprisingly muted with only a hint of hops coming through over a malty/bourbony base.  The taste is where I really start to appreciate this beer.  At first, I get a mild piney sweet citrus bitterness upfront with a sweet, hot finish.  The more I sip at this though, the more I appreciate how much heat the hops on the front end are up against.  Guessing there’s enough hops in here to blow a smaller beer away, but for this beast they merely hold things together.  Again, this is a tasty beer but a bit large for everyday consumption.

For the main event, I mixed about 6 oz. each of the 2014 vintages of each beer.  The 120 Minute was bottled on 10/03/2014 and the WWS on 01/03/2014 (weird, right?).  The internet consensus seemed to be that the 120 Minute should be poured first so that’s what I did.

The blackness of the WWS quickly dominates the mixture, though the white bubbly lacing around the edges is more reminiscent of the 120.  The color change in the body comes on almost instantly once the stout is added while the white lacing sticks around for most of the beer.  The smell was very intriguing as the faint hops of the 120 quickly transitions into the sweetness of the stout and finishes with a slightly sweet and boozy aroma.

As I proceeded to sip the beer, I was glad I had taken the time to try the two parts separately beforehand.  The blend is a superb combination of the best of what each beer had to offer.  A piney hop taste comes through up front that transitions into a slightly less sweet version of the stout.  Finish is still boozy but it has more of a hoppy sweet character to it.  Those hops really keep the WWS sweetness in check and help bring a good balance to an otherwise very big and intense beer. They aren’t overpowering in the way you might expect, but boy do they hold their own.  It had an upper medium to thick mouth feel that presented everything quite well.

This was a fantastic mix of two really good beers.  I would even go so far as to say that it was even greater than the sum of its two parts.  Each beer has something to contribute and the two tastes complement each other almost like they were meant to be combined.  I recommend anyone with a chance to try this out do so at least once.  It lives up expectations.

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