Tasting: November 5, 2013
Beer #: 499
Late last year, the Grateful Dead announced that they were teaming up with Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewing to produce a Grateful Dead-inspired beer. They had already settled that the beer was to be an imperial IPA (India pale ale) made with American hops and American barley. However, the band and brewery enlisted the help of fans to suggest the key ingredient. More than 1,500 fans made suggestions that ranged from hemp seeds, grenadine syrup to rose petals — but the final ingredient was a bulls eye – granola. The label relays that granola was the main course in millions of parking lot meals and its nutty and sweet nature would be a perfect complement to the base IPA.
While a natural name for the collaborative beer would have been Dead Head (grateful DEAD, dogfish HEAD), they opted for American Beauty – from the 1970 Grateful Dead album of the same name. The album ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the top 500 albums of all time. Also worthy of note is the album’s cover – the title is graphically ambiguous and can also be read as “American Reality”.
I wasn’t motivated to buy this beer because of the connection to the band. Frankly, I never liked the meandering nature of their musical jams and the hippie culture that was intertwined with their fan base. There, I said it! I really bought this beer on a recommendation of someone who thought I’d just like the beer.
American Beauty has an alcohol by volume of 9%. Pour is loose, frothy and copper colored. What strikes me out of the gate is the yeast, seems a Belgian-style variety as I pick up the signature banana, clove and spice. Some really nice honey layers under some moderate hop bitterness. More of a black pepper-like hop influence than a citric hop and it lingers on the finish. Sorry – I’m not getting any nut influence here and the alcohol burn becomes a bit too evident. Flavors is a little subdued for my liking – but it is an easy drinking beer. I’ll put American Beauty at 84 points.
Up next…Beer # 500!