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Dogfish Head American Beauty Beer Review

Many cheers to DJ of youtube’s DJ’s BrewTube, for providing this beer for me in a trade.

Tonight I will be celebrating my 1000th post on this website with a very special beer for me, which is a collaboration between Dogfish Head Brewery and the Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead supply the soundtrack to my life, and because of that I will eschew my normally short and sweet post for a long and rambling dissertation that you hopefully will find enjoyable.

I first came in contact with Dogfish Head American Beauty a few months ago (American Beauty is the title of the Dead’s phenomenal 1970 album), when they announced a contest for someone to meet the Dead if they came up with a great ingredient to use in this special edition beer. Of course I entered (suggesting rose hips, as the rose is prominent in a lot of the band’s artwork and a number of their songs), and of course I did not win.
 
Lady finger, dipped in moonlight
Writing “what for?” across the morning light
A lucky bastard named Thomas Butler did win, with his suggestion of adding granola, along with this anecdote:

Thomas Butler remembers two things from his first Dead show.

When his dad tossed him over the fence at Oklahoma City’s Zoo Amphitheatre (his old man didn’t want to buy a ticket for a 9-year-old) little Thomas ran into a woman wearing only a soaking wet white sheet. It left little to his school-age imagination.

“Hey, it was a Dead show in the middle of summer and I was young,” says Thomas, now 39 and living in California. “I’ll never forget that.”

The other thing he remembers is all the “cigarettes.” He couldn’t figure out why everyone was passing them around. “People here are pretty poor,” his dad told him, “so they have to share.”

Now is the test of the boomerang
Tossed in the night of believing

Dogfish Head American Beauty is an American IPA with 9% Alcohol By Volume.

Dogfish Head American Beauty is a crystal clear, deep amber colored beer, topped off with a large and sticky off-white head.

The nose has pale malt with a touch of Munich, a nice floral and citrus hop aroma, and yes indeed, hints of granola.

Sweet pale malts start off the taste, with lots of lighter fruity notes in the transition, apple, pear and hints of berries, with granola imparting notes of honey, nuts and some oats. The hops are very bright but not overpowering, spanning floral, citrus, faint tropical fruits and a subdued piney bitterness in the finish. The mouth is fairly full and evenly carbonated.

If you didn’t know that Dogfish Head American Beauty had granola in it, you probably wouldn’t think it did, as a lot of the flavors imparted from it are traditional beer flavors. Which is nice, as it adds some nice complexity without being too distracting from the underlying IPA. Combine the nice beer with a bottle that I will never throw away, and in my book American Beauty is a winner.

Dogfish Head American Beauty : A-

I have never lived in an area where Dogfish Head was distributing their beers to, but they do pop in and out of Wisconsin on occasion, so I am at least familiar with their regular lineup of beers. What I have noticed from watching them from afar is that they like to explore all sorts of new ways of approaching beer, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

There’s a dragon with matches, loose on the town
Take a whole pail of water, just to cool him down

That is the same mentality that the Grateful Dead brought to their performances. On a good night, they could transcend time and space and form as close of a union with The One as is possible without achieving nirvana, and on occasion the complexity of what they were bringing to the stage failed to gel as a whole.

Out on the edge of an empty highway, howling at the blood on the moon

When craft beer is at its best, it is operating along the same principles that the Dead brought to their work. It explores new boundaries, it encourages love and collaboration, thumbs its nose at the man, changes consciousness and puts a little jump in the ole’ dancing shoes.

In another time’s forgotten space
Your eyes looked through your mother’s face
 

If I had to pick one major brewery that we don’t get here in Minnesota that I would like to have access to, it would be Dogfish Head Brewery. They like to get weird, man. I read a lot of people who try and dump on them for constantly playing around with new ingredients that aren’t stamped with the beer nerd seal of approval, but those people miss the point. Dogfish and the Dead live to explore the boundaries of what is possible.

This is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago
The Grateful Dead were never a mainstream band (it took them nearly 30 years to have a #1 record), but their fans recognized that what they were doing on stage was not being done by anyone else, nor would it ever be. Craft beer is in a similar situation; while it has been gaining in popularity in recent years, it is still something outside of the consciousness of the mainstream alcohol consumer, and its fans are passionate and dedicated to its superior quality.  


They’re a band beyond description
Like Jehovah’s favorite choir
People joinin’ hand in hand
While the music plays the band
Lord, they’re setting us on fire

.
Dogfish Head American Beauty Specs
ABV: 9%
IBUs: 55
Beer Reviews by Prof Sudz

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