Grateful Dead-Inspired Beer: American Beauty

beer - dogfish head american beautyI’ve never been a fan of the Grateful Dead; I love rock music, but I don’t like extended jams.

But American Beauty, a new small-batch imperial pale ale from Dogfish Head Brewery, intrigued me. Here’s why: Dogfish Head reached out to Grateful Dead fans asking for suggested ingredients for the beer that would honor their favorite band – let the Deadheads supply the recipe.

My first thought was, “What sort of ingredients might a nation of Deadheads be inclined to recommend?” Hmm. Perhaps we’d best leave that one alone.

The result was more than 1,500 different suggestions, with one clear winner: organic granola. In other words, hippie food. OK, I’ll bite: how does granola work in an Imperial Pale Ale? Quite well, actually, at least in the hands of the Dogfish Head brewing team.

American Beauty pours with a big, clean head, a medium-hazy, dark orange body and plenty of lacing. It certainly passes the eye test. But it’s the nose that really begins the intrigue – there’s an expected floral aroma supplied by the plentiful American hops in this beer, but there’s also something else; there’s an earthy tone to it. Does that come from the organic granola?

More importantly, is this the stuff from the blessed fountain they were singing about in the song “Ripple?”

The ale’s flavor is surprisingly balanced – not the hop attack one might expect from an imperial ale (the beer is 55 IBU). It has a crisp flavor, but one which confirms the toasty earthiness on the nose. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the granola includes almonds, which may have something to do with it.

Interestingly, this beer is smooth, with a great, natural hop flavor. And yet it’s not one of those Imperial Ales with a flavor or mouthfeel that lingers on. I found this a tad ironic, given the way a Dead concert would no doubt linger. Or a mid-song Dead jam. No, the flavor of this beer clears the palate after a few moments, which means that each subsequent drink is like a fresh start.

What a long, strange trip it has been.

Also, at 9.0 percent ABV, you can taste the alcohol – which is probably similar to how a Grateful Dead show might have tasted. Although, one can imagine that the smell at a Dead show was quite a bit more, em, earthy than  American Beauty. (Cough, cough.)

Dogfish Head recommends American Beauty with pork chops, jambalaya or frites, and also with blue cheeses. I had a few nibbles of medium white cheddar while drinking it, and it was only a so-so pairing. I should have checked ahead of time and picked up something more appropriate. Maybe the Dead fans could have made a suggestion. Is Sugar Magnolia a food?

But the bottom line is, this one you can enjoy alone or share with a friend. Hats off yet again to Dogfish Head Brewery.

In other words, drink up and go home.

This post was originally published by

New Sitcom Based on Dogfish Head Brewery?

dogfish head brewing logoMore proof that craft brewing is becoming more and more mainstream every second that we live: There is a sitcom pilot in the works based on Dogfish Head Brewery.

No joke. A couple of years ago, I knew fantasy football had gone absolutely mainstream when “The League” debuted. And  now? Looks like the same thing might be happening with craft beer.

Dogfish Head is one of America’s most popular craft breweries already, and co-founder Sam Calgione was college roommates with comedian Ken Marino, who pitched the show to various networks. Fox liked it enough to purchase exclusive rights and order a pilot.

Some of the plotlines would be adapted from Calgione’s book, “Brewing Up a Business.” It documents the struggles he and his wife Mariah had getting Dogfish Head off the ground and making it successful.

All of which just begs the question: Who would play Roger Baylor in a sitcom about New Albanian Brewing Company? Ron White perhaps?

Beer Labels in Motion is, Like, Best Thing Ever

beer labels in motion - beerThis is getting passed around a lot via blogs and Facebook, but I’d be remiss not to post it in my blog as well. You must check out Beer Labels in Motion, a site in which beer lover and animator Trevor Carmick creates animated GIFs of the labels and logos of his favorite beers.

I’m a particular fan of the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA animation in which it looks like the shark is swimming around the perimeter of the pint glass. Well done, and well worth a few minutes of your time.

Brewer Jeremy Hunt Moving on From BBC

louisville beer - bluegrass brewing company logoStumbled upon this today: Bluegrass Brewing Company brewmaster Jeremy Hunt is moving on — he will become head brewer at Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas.

Hunt had been at BBC just shy of two years, previously brewed for Red Hook Brewery and was later the head brewer at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. He landed at BBC in 2011 following his stint at Dogfish Head.

“I’m open to suggestions from everybody,” Hunt told the Dallas Observer. “I like to riff back and forth. I come up with an idea, throw it out to someone else, they put their spin on it. In the end, we come up with something that is better than the sum of its parts.”

I never met Hunt, but I drank a lot of his beers. Best of luck to him. And let the search commence for BBC’s next head brewer.