BY Steve Lonsway
As we start out on our newest adventure, beer writing that is, we try to imagine what will keep the reader’s attention through the end of what we have put forth. We found this to be a fantastic opportunity presented to us by The Scene. Taylor and I are part of the Brew team of Stone Arch Brew House at Stone Cellar Brewpub in Appleton. We live and breathe beer every single day. Whether it’s formulating a new recipe, brewing, filtering, preparing our tanks or flat out imbibing in the festive suds, beer is a very important part of our lives. These are not uncommon words in the craft beer industry.
Nor is it uncommon to hear the words sung by the Grateful Dead in breweries and brewpubs across our great nation. You see, I have always loved the music that the Grateful Dead has put to the airwaves, most likely due to the influence of my sister Deb and brother Rob. Taylor is a bit behind in age but not in spirit. Often our guests can hear the heartfelt tones of Jerry, Bobby, Phil and the boys (and girls depending on the bootleg) bellowing from our brewery.
How does this all come together you ask? Well as this idea was presented to us, our team quickly agreed that a recent taste of American Beauty is worth writing about. American Beauty is an Imperial Pale Ale from our friends in Delaware…..Dogfish Head Brewery.
Let us tell you about our experience.
We take the recently acquired 750 ml bottle from the cooler. The label jumps out with a colorful dancing bear that is a familiar face to Deadheads worldwide. This is one of the coolest caricatures of the Dead because he is proudly gripping a frothy beer mug and his smile is bigger than usual (perhaps some insight for what’s inside)? We uncap the bottle and decant it slowly into a pair of freshly polished snifter-style glasses. We quickly bring the glass to our nose as if it were a Box of Rain. As the golden amber liquid Ripples into the glass, we can’t help but notice the sweet aroma reminiscent of Sugar Magnolia with an inviting hop character. As it settles in the glass we notice that it poured a relatively weak head of amber hues yet the beer has a pleasing effervescence. The nose of the beer is as complex as The Attics of My Life with a lot of aromas to dissect. We get smells of malt, nuts and freshly baked bread. If given the chance to warm a bit whispers of sage, spice and molasses blows through. Taylor comments on how the beer has a slight musty scent that reminds him of opening an old crate full of grandpas National Geographic collection.
The first effervescent flow across the palette brings out an immediate almond honey granola taste just as the label indicates. The malt tones are molasses-like and very gentle considering the alcohol content of 9% by volume. Because of the strength, this beer is a Friend of the Devil and you wouldn’t want to drink it Till the Morning Comes.
The finish is Truckin and brings dark cherry fruitiness; Golden Grahams and a slight warming that are evident, yet tamed.The Operator of Dogfish Head Brewery, Sam Caligone, is a true Candyman with the beers he is known to produce. Like most people in our industry, Sam is inspired by music and even dedicates a series of releases that are collaborated with music. For this release he polled many loyal Dead fans to help drive the recipe. Granola topped the list as it was a staple in many of Deadheads diets. Sam chose to use almond honey granola and all American hops to round this incredible brew out. Not at all a Brokedown Palace, but a Steal Your Face – Anthem of the Sun kind of beer.
Dogfish Head started their “Off-Centered” approach as a Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in the summer of 1995 brewing 10 gallon batches of beer. At the time they were the smallest commercial brewery in the U.S. Because small batch brewing is less risky, Sam was able to experiment with many ingredients found throughout his restaurant. This was the birth of Off-Centered Ales, Dogfish’s signature style. Their focus was (and is) to offer ”Original beer, great food and local music” to the Rehoboth area. Their success was fast and furious which caused them to pull their product from several states for a period of time. Unfortunately Wisconsin was one of those states. With some time to catch up and a new production facility in Milton, DE, Sam is back on our local shelves and welcomed with opened hands. Dogfish Head has grown as a business model that, again, is off-centered. They own and operate the original brewpub, the production facility clearly identified by an artistic tree house dubbed Steampunk, a motel named Dogfish Inn, three Alehouses in Gaithersburg, Fairfax and Falls Church, and a line of line of brats, chowder and hot pickles.
American Beauty Imperial Pale Ale, best enjoyed while playing the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty on vinyl, comes in 750ml bottles and might be a challenge to find but will be worth your efforts. It packs in 55 IBU’s (International Bitterness Units) that is a measurement of the hops within. 55 is a slightly elevated number, but because of the 9.0% alcohol by volume it really mellows the bitterness that the American hops provide. We suggest a wide topped goblet or snifter-style glass and some time for it to warm in order to pull all out of what this beer resonates.
FINAL WORD: Search this beer out and enjoy!