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Granola Key Ingredient In Grateful Dead-inspired Brew

May 8, 2019

This beer is the biggest cliche of any beer ever.

It should be noted that I never much cared for the Grateful Dead. I’m not hating or anything. To each their own. For myself, however, I just couldn’t get into them despite my jam band-loving friends. I generally wanted a little more bite than it had to offer.

I have to admit, though, that the band’s legacy lives on. Deadheads are just as committed as ever. They still talk about their favorite Dead shows and swear there is nothing else like it. For the amount of community and devotion the band generated, they might just be onto something. People would follow the band around the country, hanging out in the parking lot. They’d get by selling crafts and simple food. The snack most associated with the band? Granola.

Granola is basically toasted oats with other stuff. It travels well and is relatively hardy and nutritious. Combine that with a pretty good shelf life, and you have a Deadhead’s favorite snack. You know what else you can do with toasted oats other than throwing them in your mouth? You can throw them in beer.

Dogfish Head figured this out. When it wanted to make a beer tribute to the Grateful Dead, it asked people what ingredients they’d like to see. Granola was on the top of the list. Throw it in a brew with honey, barley and hops, and you have the Deadhead-themed brew American Beauty , named after the band’s fifth album.

The brew poured a really pretty golden color. It was a striking hue with a good amount of bubbles rising through it. There wasn’t much of a head, but what thin foam there was stayed for the entirety and left delicate lacing down the sides of the glass. Beauty certainly was a relevant descriptor.

It has a really nice toasty smell to it, which I’m sure came from the oats. The brew had hints of grass, caramel and hops. The thing that really surprised me was how much I could smell the honey. It’s the only beer I can remember that really has that sticky honey scent to it, which was quite novel.

I expected the taste to be a lot sweeter than it was, but it actually was quite dry instead. The malt was very present in the form of grape nuts. That nutty flavor lingered on the tongue long after the swallow and flowed nicely into the slightly bitter hop finish.

The more of it I drank, the more the sweetness came out. It wasn’t cloying or over done, instead showcasing more of the taste of honey instead of just sugar. That combined with the rising oat presence to turn that grape nut finish into something akin to a Nature’s Valley granola bar. I’ve always found them bland in a pleasing way, and this beer was similar in that respect. Mix all that with just a touch of citrus, and you have an American Beauty.

I’d like to say this brew is going to make me give the Grateful Dead another chance. It’s not. It does remind me that I generally like Dogfish Head brews, though, and I probably should get some more. That’s the real takeaway here: good beer is good.

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