Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dogfish Head's Robert Johnson's Hellhound on my Ale

Legend says that, at the stroke of midnight, Robert Johnson  went down to the crossroads at Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  Angry at God for the untimely death of his wife and unborn child, Robert Johnson called upon the devil and made an irrevocable pact ... in exchange for his soul, the devil would tune Johnson's guitar, enabling him to become one of the greatest blues artists.  Robert Johnson did, in fact, become one of the greats, but the devil cashed in the exchange.  Robert Johnson died at age 27.

Well, now there is a beer in honor of Robert Johnson, and it is courtesy of Dogfish Head.  The beer, Robert Johnson's Hellbound on my Ale, commemorates the Mississippi Delta blues legend's 100th birthdays with a lot of 100s.  As the beer recounts, the Hellhound on my Ale is an Imperial India Pale Ale, which is loaded with hops -- including the dry-hopping of the beer with 100% Centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilograms per 10 barrel brew length, all of which contributes to an IBU of 100 at the brewhouse.  The beer has a 10.0% ABV and is 10.0 SRM in color. 

The SRM is the Standard Reference Method, which is a means by which brewers measure the colors of their beers. The SRM is actually a range from 2 (which would be a pale lager) to 70 (which would be an imperial stout).  A 10.0 places the Hellhound on my Ale in the range of a pale ale.  

The beer appears a little darker than an average pale ale, much more like an Imperial India Pale Ale.  When pouring the beer, a nice, thin layer of foam tops the beer.  As the foam subsides, the aromatic elements become clear.  There is definitely a good, solid aroma of lemons, wrapped in hops.  The lemon aromas (and flavors) come from the use of dried lemon peel and flesh in the brewing process.  The lemons are in recognition of Robert Johnson's mentor, Blind Lemon Jefferson.  

Those lemons figure prominently throughout the taste of the beer.  In fact, the lemon flavor is so prominent that it seems to upstage the flavor of the hops.  While I might have an issue with that,  particularly given the Imperial IPA style (where hops are supposed to be the king), Dogfish Head actually  makes it work this beer.  When drinking the beer, the lemon flavor seems sweet at the front, and then turns citrusy and a bitter in the finish.  The flavors of the beer are an analogy to Robert Johnson's life, sweet up front, but a bitter end. 

This beer is a limited release and is available in stores now for about $11.99 a bottle.  I have been able to find it at a local Whole Foods store, but it should be available at other beer store that sell 22 ounce bottles of Dogfish Head beers. This is a great beer to sip while listening to some of Robert Johnson's greatest blues songs, like Crossroad Blues, Kindhearted Woman Blues, and, most appropriately for this blog, Come on in My Kitchen!


For more about the Robert Johnson, check out Robert Johnson and the Crossroads Curse.


organize_crime said...

Johnson got me through many a dark night in Mississippi. Thanks for this!


Keith Bolek said...

Thanks for reading my post. Although I have not had any dark nights in Mississippi (or any night in the Magnolia state for that matter), I love to listen to Johnson.

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