Artists Series Volume II: Time (The Revelator)
Gillian Welch has run like a thread through my life, so it seemed only fitting that the second beer in our Artists Series should be dedicated to her. This album wasn’t the first of hers that I heard – but it was the first that I bought. I still remember discovering it in Best Buy in the days before release dates were all over the internet. It seems like another era looking back on it now.
There was a moment in time when I had nearly given excised music from my life. It was only due to my wife and, in no small part, a Gillian Welch show at the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill that I found the joy in it once again. It’s a gift I can never repay but will always be grateful for.
For me, this album has always been about a songwriter reaching her peak only to discover that there’s an entire mountaintop for her to scale next. From the opening minor key strumming of Revelator, through the mopey April the 14th, the recovery of Elvis Presley Blues and the epic scale of I Dream a Highway it’s a perfectly balanced, impeccably executed album. To follow up an album like this with the equally stunning Soul Journey is just about unprecedented in the annals of music.
While I was considering what beer to craft I kept coming back to the themes of Time and the cultural and personal history of this album. And that’s the moment when I realized that I wanted to bring back a technique that hasn’t been used widely in quite some time – first hopping. I tinkered and tinkered with the recipe, what hops to balance and what schedule to use until I finally settled on a first hopping of Summit and Cascade matched with hop additions every ten minutes for the full 90 minute boil. The amazing thing is that what came out the other is a balanced, citrusy IPA. Giant pineapple, grapefruit and orange notes jump out of the dense, creamy head and an intensely focused but not overwhelming bitter comes together with a mild malt note. I’m pretty satisfied with the result and I’d like to think it’s a beer that could have happened at any point in the epoch of beer, both past, present and future.