A lot of craft beer buzzing has been made in my area recently when DFH announced that the next in their line of musical inspired beers, “Beer Thousand”, inspired by the 20th anniversary of Guided by Voices album Bee Thousand would soon be available in both bomber and 12oz bottles. Possibly overlooked with that announcement is that their previous release in the series, American Beauty, was making its second appearance on beer shelves.
The “music series” as I like to call it refers to a series of beer that DFH releases that takes its inspiration from an artist or group in the the musical world. Some, to me, are fairly obvious like Hell Hound on My Ale which is a nod to the late, great Robert Johnson (one of my fav blues players [I realize that’s probably boarder line cliche] and one of my favorite DFH beers), to acts that I probably should be ashamed to say I’ve never heard of like Deltron 3030, which was the inspiration for DFH’s Positive Contact.
It really should be no surprise (at least in hindsight it’s not to me) that sooner or later DFH would land on the improvisational, jam band The Grateful Dead to inspire a beer. And inspire they did. Not only is the beer named after the band’s double platinum certified 1970 album, but DFH took this opportunity, inspired (there’s that word again) by the grass roots element of the band, to do what they have done with several of their beers – rely on crowd sourcing for the ingredients. DFH pooled the Grateful Dead fans as to what they felt would be excellent ingredients for the definitive Grateful Dead beer and received a good number of suggestions (20% of which Sam says were illegal) and the one that stood out the most was granola (organic naturally).
While casual outsiders may associate the Grateful Dead more for tie-dyed shirts and the willingness to allow concert members to record shows; those who followed the band and spent many hours in the park lots before those concerts also equate the band with the granola that sustained them while they awaited their favorite band to hit the stage. One aspect of this crowd sourcing was that each submission had to come with a story as to why the suggested ingredient made a connection with that person to the Grateful Dead, and Tom Butler’s story was chosen from the granola suggesters which allowed him and his father to go to the brewery and take part in the brewing of American Beauty.
If you think about it, granola is a slam dunk in beer recipes. Consisting of things like rolled oats, nuts, honey, rice and dried fruits, this health food staple isn’t very far from things that brewers would use in beers naturally. So this beer should be pretty straight forward, right?. Is it? Let’s taste.
THEM: American Beauty is designated as an Imperial Pale Ale brewed with all-American malts and hops, so I’m expecting a pop of hop, but not in the IPA/DIPA range. Orange blossom honey granola from Grizzly’s Granola in Eugene Oregon, was added to the hot side of the beer. The newish hop #366 hop was used for both aroma and locking in the 55IBUs, and the alcohol measures in at 9%ABV.
Hop #366 is an experimental variety that several of the breweries are playing with now. A relative of Warrior, this hop is supposed to bring all sorts of good things to the party; citrus, tropical fruit, floral, herbal characteristics, lemon, lime, papaya, apple, and green pepper. It still is referred too as #366 in a lot of places, although it’s apparently been named Equinox(TM) by its developers, The Hop Breeding Company. Besides American Beauty you can find it in Brooklyn’s Scorcher, and a version of Lagunitas Sucks.
ME: This is really nice. As I hoped, the hops are not overly done here but they do bring a nice citrus to the party. I was getting a little lemon in the mix along with a touch of pine, and when it warmed it actually had a little tea quality going on. The subdued hops allow the malt, grain, honey and a nutty quality of the beer to shine through that for me is the really beauty of this American beer (I know, malt over hops? Blasphemy!). The booze hides pretty well while the beer is cold, but you can detect a bit of the warmth the closer to room temperature it gets (although you might not want to let it get as close to room temperature as I did. I poured my second glass and then walked away from it and got side tracked). The carbonation is just the way I love it (if it’s not overly nerdy to geek out over carbonation). The head is pretty good and doesn’t fade totally away after the initial pour, but I love the rush of bubbles that’s formed in the liquid that’s at the edge of the glass (plus the sparkling lace that’s left behind) when you tilt the glass back and forth. I may have to post a video of that one day just so everyone knows what I’m talking about. It really is a good looking, and good tasting, beer in the glass.
I’m actually sad I waited so long to review this beer as I probably would have picked up several bottles and enjoyed it on draft a couple of times over that past months. Luckily, as I said above, DFH given me a chance to atone for my mistake by releasing another bottling onto the shelves pretty soon. Thanks guys! Time for another beer…