[Author’s Note: August is the Dog(fish Head) days of Summer here at The Dogs of Beer. All throughout the month I’ll be looking exclusively at the beers from DFH.]
I go through music “phases”. Every now and then I like to pull out some CDs of a particular genre that I don’t regularly listen to and spend a couple of days getting reacquainted with some of the less rotated disks in my collection. And one genre that I go to on occasion is the blues.
Being a music lover, and basement guitarist, I’ve always been aware of the blues, but it became a part of my collection later in life. I didn’t buy my first blues CD until I saw the documentary for Eric Clapton’s From the Cradle entitled “Nothing But the Blues” directed by Martin Scorsesse, which contained covers of Motherless Child, Blues Before Sunrise, and (my favorite) It Hurts Me Too. This led me to dig further into the earlier artists of the blues, like Ellmore James, T-Bone Walker, Big Bill Broonzy, Son House and “Howling Wolf” Chester Burnett (who got a little snippy with Clapton in one session when Clapton wasn’t getting the feel to Red Rooster quite right) to more contemporary artists like Freddy King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and of course, B.B. King.
It was at this time that I also caught a documentary on the life of Mississippi Delta blues legend Robert Johnson, whom many consider a major influence on the blues and rock musicians to follow. Despite his legacy, Robert’s own career (recording wise) was relatively short, spanning only two years. When not in the studio recording (which was only twice), Robert traveled from town to town in the deep south playing where ever he could. Due to this minstrel’s wanderings, little is know about Johnson’s life, and far less is known about his untimely death at the age of 27.
At the time of his passing, he’d only record 29 songs (his “Complete Recordings” album only takes 1 hour and 16 minutes to listen to), the most famous of which is probably Cross Road Blues which many music fans are probably most aware of through the cover by Clapton’s band Cream. But it’s another song, Hellhound on my Trail, that DFH adopted for one of their musical series beers that celebrated the 100th birthday of Johnson, Hellhound on my Ale. Let’s Taste.
THEM: From DFH, “Hellhound is a super-hoppy ale that hits 100 IBUs in the brewhouse and 10% ABV. It’s dry-hopped with 100% Centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilos per 100 barrel brew-length. Can you tell we’re stoked for this mighty musical centennial? To accentuate and magnify the citrusy notes of the Centennial hops (and as a shoutout to Robert Johnson’s mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson), we add dried lemon peel and flesh to the whirlpool.”
ME: This has to be one of my favorite beer in DFH’s musical collection. This is just malt awesome! The nose has a heap of caramel in it which sometimes comes across to me as butterscotch (but probably is more in line with toffee), and what could pass as a touch of brown sugar. I’m currently not getting any of the lemon, but the beer might still be too cold (yeah, my fridge at it again) . The dry hop with Centennial doesn’t smother this beer in anyway. In fact, it’s very well balanced with the malt, but it’s still there make no mistake. Someone did an awesome job with this. The flavor, well more of that malt, plus some nice citrus and the lemon is definitely starting to peak through on my palette as I get further into glass but it’s riding more on the back end. The aftertaste definitely has that “bitter rind” bite to it, and the beer almost (almost) does a decent job at hiding that 10%ABV (it certainly isn’t hiding from my brain at the moment, wow). The appearance is nice, a little hazy with a color that is falling somewhere around orange.
I’ll be the first to admit that not everything DFH does is a home run. But this is a walk off grand slam for me.
Rating : Kegerator!! As a Delta blues man, Robert might not have known anything about snow, but a sixtle of this during the cold winter months would be just the thing to warm your soul and chase the blues away – not that you’d want too.
Time for another beer