Artists Series Vol. 8: Blonde on Blonde
As I struggled to write this post I found myself stumbling and searching for a way to express what Dylan has meant to me over the years and what he has meant to nearly every artist who has followed him. Was he the young, fire throwing folk artist of Freewheelin’? The electric Judas of Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde? The mellower, contemplative Dylan of New Morning and Blood on the Tracks?
I don’t know, and I won’t pretend to be able to capture what he meant or means to anyone other than me – but for me he’s a storyteller of the ages. For me, he’s always been an artist exploding with stories, simply trying to find a way to capture his muse and their voices in song. Whether it takes the form of the quiet contemplation of Another Side, the raucous jangling of Highway 61 Revisted or the introspective stillness of Blood on the Tracks his stories erupt from a place of deep emotion and roar from his records.
When we decided to build a beer to honor his deep, long career we knew that whatever we built was going to have to stand as a towering example of the style; an impeccable, implacable stone monument that we raised to him. We quickly settled on a Belgian for the bones but what style exactly?
The Belgians have always tinkered in the high ABV world of beers, from Dubbels and Tripels through to the Golden Strong it’s a brewing tradition grounded in malt and yeast with hops a distant afterthought. Once we had narrowed it down to Belgian it was an easy decision to focus on the Golden Strong – the pinnacle of the malt-based tradition it uses clean, lightly modified grain paired with lighter adjuncts to allow the yeast to dominate. To pair with those malts and adjuncts we needed a yeast that could do justice so we reached deep into the back catalog and pulled out a yeast that our supplier only makes available once every three years.
Pairing Franco-Belgian malts, Belgian Candi Sugar and a rare, nearly forgotten yeast we created this towering monument to Dylan. From the first it erupts with clove, pepper, spicy phenols and fruity orange and pear esters. It mellows and allows a rich, delicate sweetness to come sweeping across paired with a mild bitter and matched with the heaviest, traditional Belgian carbonation it’s a beer that takes the simplest of ingredients and combines them to create a beer greater than its parts. A classic, marble-statued Belgian Golden Strong Ale to honor one of our greatest living artists – for Bob Dylan and for everything he’s done for us, for music and for our artistic endeavors past, present and future.