Thursday, April 26, 2012

4/26/72 Frankfurt: "Loser," "The Stranger," Barley's Odyssey, & IPA



When: Wednesday, April 26, 1972
Where: Jahrhundert Halle, Frankfurt, West Germany
Setlist: (In order of the released CDs, can't find an AUD stream, but much of this show was released as Hundred Year Hall in 1995)
  1. Bertha, Me & My Uncle, Mr. Charlie, He's Gone, Black-Throated Wind, Next Time You See Me, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Jack Straw, Big Railroad Blues, Playing In The BandChinatown Shuffle, Loser, Beat It On Down The Line, You Win Again, El Paso, Tennessee Jed, Greatest Story Ever Told, The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion), Casey Jones
  2. Good Lovin', Dire Wolf, Truckin' > Drums > The Other One > Comes A Time > Sugar Magnolia, Turn On Your Lovelight > Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad > One More Saturday Night
As always, my personal highlights are bolded.

As noted above, much of this show was released as in the third installation of the From the Vault series (before Dick's and Dave's Picks), which has long been a personal favorite and source of countless fond memories by association. The liner notes of the first release, written by Robert Hunter, are masterful on their own. David Gans provides the commentary in the most recent release, which is far more descriptive than Hunter's artful exploration.*

For Hunter, the trip through Germany conjured anger over the atrocities of WWII, which he compares to America's military involvement in Vietnam. Of the Dead's Bozo/Bolo circus across Europe, he confesses:
We had lies of our own to tell, but not hateful ones. Told them with music. Had come to save the world but, starting in Germany, began to realize worlds cannot be saved. All are tentative. So we learned to dance on graves and be glad.... All were crazy. None were sane.
Gans recounts Bob Weir's description of the venue: "It looks like a regular concert hall, made out of wood and velvet and stuff like that, but it's entirely made out of plastic. It is a great-sounding little hall, too." John McIntire, who co-managed the band on the tour along with Sam Cutler, describes (via Gans) that the room's phenomenal acoustical properties were designed for concert orchestras, and the design and quality of sound affected the band's performance. "Phil was totally stoked on it, because he knew exactly what was happening there.... It was right down his alley."** Regardless of the reason, the band's performance in Frankfurt is inspired.

As with many shows on the tour, this one gets off to a hot start. The band is firing on all cylinders, as only the Grateful Dead can. Jerry, Bobby, and Pigpen each belt out an awesome first song ("Bertha," "Me & My Uncle," and "Mr. Charlie," respectively), though their second efforts ("He's Gone," "BT Wind," and "Next Time You See Me") fall a bit short. Don't get me wrong, they're good, but they had just set the bar so high. The rest of the set is great, but the final two songs take it all to another level.

First we have "The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)," a rare Pigpen ballad performed for the first time of the tour. Truthfully, I haven't listened to all the versions from this tour yet, but I have a hard time thinking they can get any better. Pigpen sings this version as if it were his own elegy, and Jerry's guitar rips through the air with soulful precision to match. Jerry masterfully pushes the reverb to the tipping point of feedback, only to bring it back from the edge for another pass. The haunting refrain from Pigpen is delivered with soul-rending passion. How this song was left off the Hundred Year Hall release is beyond me, but it's a question I may be able to shed some light on below in the special, first-ever BONUS - SONG OF THE DAY, PART II!!

The "Casey Jones" that closes the first set is a scorcher! This song was played in all but three shows of the tour, almost always to close the first set. I haven't drawn much attention to it in previous posts, but this version is hotter than most. If you're only going to sing one, this could be it!
Pigpen howling his way through a song - I like to think it's "The Stranger'" - at Jahrhundert Halle, 4/26/72
The version of "Good Lovin'" that opens the second set is quite remarkable. (Again, I don't understand how it was left off the Hundred Year Hall release. Why not just release the whole show? Or the whole tour, while you're at it? Oh, that's right. Good save!!) While it's not nearly as long as the version from Copenhagen twelve days earlier - and Pigpen doesn't venture so far afield in his vocal improvisation - this is probably a better rendition all around. The best word to describe it is tight - in focus, in instrumental performance, and in Pigpen's vocals. There is plenty of exploration, but the pace is fast and relentless. The band isn't waiting for Pigpen's lead as they were in Copenhagen, though he tries to direct them at one point. He pulls out some of the raunchy stops, but the playing is just so fast that Pigpen hardly has time to extrapolate on his rap before the jam is squirreling off around the next corner. You can hear the overarching theme of the tour - the Primal Dead of their early career wrestling with the musically mature rock orchestra the band is quickly evolving into - play out in under 15 minutes of brilliance in this song.

The rest of the second set is just as good, if a bit more musically verbose. As many know from the previous release, the "Truckin'" has it all: the "numero uno in Turloch, California" intro, a few flubbed vocal lines from Bobby Ace himself,*** masterful piano fills from Keith, precision jamming led by Jerry and Phil, and deep space that falls off into Bill's drum solo. "The Other One" rumbles out of the drum break like a dragon rearing its head in preparation for flight. Soon after the first verse, the entire structure of the song (rhythm and melody) have been shed for pure instrumental improvisation. This is the Grateful Dead at their very best, exploring darkness and light with energy and touch, weaving from structured themes and lyrics to pure improvisation and back in fluid, mindless transitions. Before you know it, 36+ minutes have passed since "Drums!" Jerry ignores Bobby's suggestion of "Spanish Jam," instead strumming the opening chords to "Comes a Time." This song is very close to my heart, and while quicker than some of my favorite versions performed in years to come, Jerry delivers the vocals and lead with passion and precision that point directly to the emotional place of the song's conception. Bobby senses a need for release, and the band kicks it into high gear for a rockin' version of "Sugar Magnolia."

Oh, but the set isn't nearly over yet! The band launches into "Turn On Your Lovelight," which Pigpen sings well but sounds a bit subdued. After all he's sung so far, I wouldn't blame him for being a bit tired. The tempo is very fast, and the jamming is overall very good, if a bit choppy in the middle section. Jerry is clearly on fire, but it's the rhythm that drives this one, repeatedly changing directions on a dime. Bobby plays some of the best rhythm guitar you're likely to hear, and Keith adds some excellent fills on the breakdown towards the end.

The segue out of "Lovelight" contains a fascinating musical conversation, to the point of debate, between all members of the band. Start listening closely about 14:30 into the track on the release, and you'll hear Bobby suggestion "Caution" as the rest of the band builds tension around the theme. A minute later, Phil thumps the locomotive bass line, but I wouldn't be surprised if Pigpen simply didn't have it in him at that point. Jerry then strikes up the "GDTRFB" intro, playing at almost double time until the band finds a mellow release. Then the battle begins: Jerry continuing to push the "GDTRFB" theme struggling with Bobby and Billy, who begin playing the intro to "NFA." About a minute later, Jerry almost relents, and a fully formed "NFA" groove emerges. It only lasts a little while, however, until Jerry returns to "GDTRFB," and the rest of the band has no choice but to fall in behind him. After the vocals, you can hear why Jerry was so insistent, as he drives the jam into a full-throttle sonic explosion. Donna chimes in with perfectly outrageous screams, and the jam tops out before settling into the mellow "And We Bid You Goodnight" instrumental we all know and love. To cap off the amazing show, we're treated to a very high-energy version of "Saturday Night" before the inevitable grab-your-shoes moment arrives.


Worth mentioning:
  • "He's Gone" is still a work in progress, particularly the beginning and the ending. (Come to think of it, did they ever find a prper ending for this song?) However, the instrumental section is starting to gain some legs. Jerry hasn't found his signature lead into his main solo, but the groove is developing.
  • It's a decent version of "Big Railroad Blues," but considering the caliber of other versions on this tour I would have to call it "lackluster" in comparison.
  • This is the shortest version of "Playin'" so far on the tour, wrapping up in under ten minutes. Don't let the brevity fool you, though, as the band is tight from start to finish, and they didn't take anything off the intensity of the jamming. And Donna sounds pretty good when she can hear herself and sings on key!! (1978 would be a long year...)
  • Jerry's vocals on "Loser" are really special, delivering each line with passion.
  • No offense to "Dire Wolf," a great song in its own right, but I really couldn't justify highlighting the entire second set. This one's clearly the odd one out, but I'd still listen to it for its rarity on the tour.

Song of the Day: "Loser"

This is another classic Garcia/Hunter composition built around a down-and-out poker player looking for someone to stake him for another hand he is convinced will bring him back to his lost glory. While I didn't know it at the time, the first time I heard this song was on the album Low by the 1990s alt-rock/country band Cracker - a respectable interpretation but well short of the original.

The song starts with a bounding guitar line that drops into a slow, sorrowful groove with a bit of twang. The narrator draws on the Wild West history of Abeline, Kansas to illustrate how astoundingly bad his luck has been. He desperately begs his lover for ten gold dollars, relying on his (self-espoused) honesty. "Put your gold money where your love is, baby / Before you let my deal go down." Loser, indeed.

He finally gets the money he's seeking. Despite his running streak of losses, he's convinced that he has the upper hand:
Everybody's bragging and drinking that wine
I can tell the queen of diamonds by the way she shines
Come do Daddy on an inside straight
I got no chance of losing this time
In the end, he is convinced the card to complete his winning royal straight is waiting for him on top of the deck. How does the hand play out? To borrow from another Hunter lyric, "Since the end is never told, we pay the teller off in gold in hopes he will come back, but he cannot be bought or sold."

The annotations are minimal, but the published version includes a contribution from Hal Kant, General Counsel to the Grateful Dead.**** He contrasts the modern resurgence of poker the literary image of the gambler (Old West, life on the road, saloons, the frontier, etc.) conjured through argot (bluff, raise, ace, etc.) and place names (Abilene, Deadwood, Texas). In song, film, and books, gambling is about the action; all the gambler needs is one good hand to win self-worth.Today, however, poker is enjoyed  at home, on TV, and on the Internet. It's the man (and his books and algorithms) versus the house and the odds, chasing only the purse. "Co-opted by large corporate interests, all is safe, sanitary, secure, even respectable."

Kant - winner of a World Series of Poker bracelet - earned the nickname "Deadman" not just from his association with the band, but also because the loser of his championship held the dead man's hand (aces and eights), named for Wild Bill Hickok's final hand in Deadwood after cleaning up Abeline. Those days are gone, however, and there are few left who appreciate the roots of the game that is so commonplace today.

BONUS - Song of the Day, Part II: "The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)"

This song is a Pigpen original, completely written alone - the way each of us will leave this life. Pigpen performed this song just three times previously, and the final version would be played at the last show of the tour. The Grateful Dead never attempted to resurrect this song after Pigpen's death,***** and a close reading of the lyrics give us an idea why.

From the online annotations, we learn that the simple question of authorship did not have an obvious answer as of 1997. Grateful Dead scholar David Dodd at the suggestion of Grateful Dead Hour host David Gans, posed the question to GD staffer Alan Trist (apparently keeper of copyrights for the Dead's publishing company Ice Nine, Inc.). Before getting back to Dodd, Trist asked official GD historian Dennis McNally, who didn't know the answer offhand. What next? McNally asked David Gans, of course!! Considering that this line of questioning occurred two years after the release of Hundred Year Hall, it's eminently possible that it was left off of the initial release due to uncertainty of authorship and the associated potential legal liability. However, they must have come to a conclusion by 2002, when Pigpen was given sole credit on Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72.

Please excuse the length of this special bonus installment of the Song of the Day, but this is a rare song that I believe provides a unique insight into Pigpen's state of mind while coming to terms with his mortality. The lyrics below are complete and have been transcribed from the Frankfurt show (and the parenthetical segments are the pointed contributions of his musical comrades).

(Jerry starts out with a simple guitar line as the rest of the band falls into a patient groove behind him.) Pigpen quickly jumps in, posing inquisitive questions while observing lovers, clearly looking in from the outside.
What are they feeling, when they look in each other's eyes?
What are they seeing, in each other's smile?
Is it a love, I've never known - or an emotion that I've outgrown? 
Having turned introspective, the questions continue to go deeper until he finds self-realization: I cannot love another. (Meanwhile, Jerry milks his rig for every ounce of tension.)
Did I take a wrong turn on life's winding road?
Won't somebody help me find the right way to go?
(The beat drops, and the band builds steam.)
My life needs some correction, alteration in direction
Won't some one come with me - for a while, for a while
In case I fall, in case I fall 
He is lost and needs to change. But how? He cannot do it alone. (Jerry takes off on a solo to allow the message sink in, letting the feedback build a bit along the way but reigning it in just shy of abrasion. Sensing Jerry's apt phrasing, everyone arrives at the cadence in unison.)
What is the secret of this tie that binds?
Two souls in communion, both body and mind
Is it special magic, or just the nature of things?
Conceived of great spirit, not for beggars but kings 
The "tie that binds" is an allusion to a Christian hymn. This religious reference and the "great spirit" are atypical of Pigpen's songs, another indication of  Pigpen's unsettled heart and mind in facing death. What he needs most now is deep, spiritual companionship in facing life's final act we will each face alone. (Between Jerry and Keith, it almost sounds as if a harp is accompanying the religious allusions.)
You who have found it please help me along
I'm a man, I'm a man - I'm not made out of stone
My needs they are simple, I don't want many things
But I surely want to fly on them wings, on them wings of love one time  
He is vulnerable, seeking guidance from those - the dead? - who have found solace. He sees through the distractions of the world to discover his simple thirst for escape. (Pigpen's self-identification - "I'm a man" - is accompanied by a triumphant surge from the band, and Jerry's fingers explode, almost in contradiction, to {Pigpen's assertion of simple needs.)
Oh yes, I do
I'm a stranger, yeah, I'm a stranger in your town
Won't somebody please help me now
Let me find the right way to go
I just want to ride, I just want to ride, I just want to ride
On those good ole wings of love one time 
I'm a stranger in your town
Help me somebody, help me somebody
Help me someone take a ride on them wings of love
Just one more time, one more time.  
The simplicity he yearns for can only be found "on those wings of love," but his realization is completely incompatible with this world and those who live in it. He is a stranger. (The band steps into the background, providing the most basic instrumental accompaniment and emphatic punctuation with their own voices.)

As was his way, Pigpen would alter the lyrics from one version to the next. Other renditions have him confused and unsettled by his epiphany - even losing touch with the world as you and I know it - but in each he is begging for spiritual guidance and companionship. He wants to take a ride on them wings of love; "Fly up, fly home" is the refrain in some performances. No matter how powerful the realization, he feels afraid of the unknown and yearns for the familiar pleasures he remembers so fondly. It is here that I find some conflation of his memories of sexual pleasure/companionship (conquest?) and his thirst for the spiritual guidance/fortitude offered by another. To me, his desire not to be alone is in response to his fear of what is in store, but his epiphany of the smallness of this world's distractions expresses the wisdom he has gained in accepting his fate.

The alternate title "Two Souls in Communion" comes from the most stirring image in the lyric, but "The Stranger" is far more apt in my mind. To me, this song expresses Pigpen's personal struggle with dying alone as it has become increasingly clear to him that his death is imminent. This song is a brilliant flash of inspiration and light, gone more quickly than it came, but it leaves an indelible image of what is to come.

*     *     *     *     *

I'm a Barleycorn, Man - I'm Not Made Out of Stone

Two-Row (left) and Six-Row Barley (right)
I am a barleycorn. I grew from a seed just like me, planted in early spring. Today, in late summer, I stand tall on the tip of a tall blade of grass, immediately surrounded by my brothers and sisters arranged in two rows along our central grass stem. We have cousins (whom I've never met) that grow up in six rows to one stem. To me that sounds crowded, and they have the reputation of being scrawny and full of protein - not sweet like me and my siblings. They say our six-row cousins are primarily fed to beasts, but my brothers and sisters have a higher calling: fermentation!
*     *     *
It's a few days later now, and I have been through quite the adventure!! After being harvested from our childhood home, my brothers and sisters and I were all separated from our nurturing stalk. Our outer spikes, once so long and firm, were torn from us, leaving us naked and intermingled with other similarly nude two-row barley seeds. We were spread out and left for about six weeks. Separated from my nurturing stem, I fall into a period of dormancy, only to be awakened with a jolt.

A large handful of sprouted barley seeds, spires attached.
We were then plunged into water and allowed to soak for at least a day. I was so thirsty that I kept drinking up the water until I was nearly half-full of the clear, life-giving liquid. As I filled up, I experienced the weirdest feeling, a change stirring deep within my kernel. Before long, I noticed a growth protruding from my end. One of my new neighbors said she had heard this is called a "spire," and if left alone the spire would continue to grow until we became tall grasses like the ones we were plucked from. My spire grew along the outside my husk until it reached from one end to the other. Through those days, I felt strong and virile. I was filled with promise and pride of what the future held for me - to stand tall in the field and wave with the wind. I had lost sight of my higher calling.

Before long, however, we were all taken from our enriching water bath and again spread thin on the floor to dry. It has been five days now, and my spire has shriveled. It feels like it would fall off at the slightest touch. Oh!! What's happening now?!?! I can feel a rumble on the floor, and I can hear other dried barley seeds being thrown in bins!! Whhhhhhhooooooooooaaaaaaaahhhhhh! I've been swept up and dumped into a large bin, filled with other dried seeds. There are broken spires everywhere, and more kernels are being piled on top of us!! Everyone around me is asking the same question - what next?
*     *     *
Our narrator is upper left,
just below the topmost grain.
Whew!! I've gathered my wits again, and I'm still coming to terms with what has happened since I was swept off the drying floor. We were all crammed in there together, and the next thing we knew we were poured into a kiln. The first day, it was merely warm (about 90°F), but the next day the temperature was raised to 130°F for 15 hours, and then again up to 185°F for what must have been another day. Now that the whole "malting" process - germination, drying, and kilning - is complete, we're now called "base malts," the magical main ingredient of every beer! We were the lucky ones, kilned at low temperatures for a short period of time, but others were not so lucky. Kilned longer and/or at higher temperatures, those unlucky bastards are called "specialty malts," like caramel/crystal malts, toasted malts, or roasted malt. Sounds nice, but you should see those guys - nearly unrecognizable from the pale malted masterpiece I have become. My fellow base malts were packaged together in 55-pound sacks, where we now sit in cool, dark storage. I can smell the pungent roast of specialty malts nearby, but I am afraid that they have been forever hardened by the high temperatures they experienced in the kiln. I'm glad there aren't any in our sack.
*     *     *
I recently arrived at the brewhouse, sitting undisturbed for several days. Eventually the Brewer dumped the entire sack into a giant hopper, and we passed through what they call the grain mill. Now, it's not nearly as traumatic as the image you have in your head, as the mill rollers are set pretty far apart. All of us grains were merely cracked to expose our innards. It was then that the age-old question of consciousness was finally answered: a grain's being resides in its starchy germ, not in the course, brittle husk on the surface.

The Brewer then called all of us cracked grains "grist," and dumped us into a large vessel called a "mash tun" with a small portion of some of those specialty malts. I feel safe only because we base malts far outnumber them, but their caramelized and charred husks keep brushing against my delicate germ. What's this? Warm water is flooding the mash tun! The husks are being swept up in the flood!! My starches are dissociating from my germ!!! HEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLP!!!!
*     *     *
At first I was afraid, but after the shock of the flood and terror of dissociation passed, I had the most amazing experience. The grains I had always seen as my base-malt brethren and sistren slowly began to feel more like me. Even the disfigured and frightening specialty malts lost their other-ness. After only a few minutes, the starches from all the grains were mixed in the solution. I soon realized that my earlier judgement of the specialty malts was entirely off-base!! Our cracked outer husks were shed to reveal very similar, though not identical, innards. Once our starches mixed in solution, we evolved the most inspirational groupmind (similar to what you'd find at a Grateful Dead concert, I'm sure!), and I had the epiphany of all epiphanies: WE ARE ALL ONE!!
Mash tun groupmind - alchemy in action! Photo from Barlow Brewing, taken at Starr Hill in Charlottesville, VA.


Still, there was some otherness still present in the solution: proteins. A bit of hot water was added to the mash tun, stabilizing the temperature at 120°F. After about 20 minutes an enzyme from our former husks called protease began breaking down the amino chains, which in turn began to form a gelatinous sludge that bound to the edges of the mixed grain husks. Before we knew it, the temperature in the mash tun again began to rise, this time stabilizing between 150°-154°F. It is in this "saccrification range" that we now sit as a "mash." We are unafraid of what lays ahead, for all the changes so far have been incredible.

We can sense a change in our constitution. The dissolved starches - essentially long chains of simple sugars - are being acted upon by two other enzymes, beta amylase and alpha amylase. One enzyme (beta) is a chopper, splitting the starches in the middle. The other (alpha) is a muncher, picking off a couple sugars from either end of the chains. As we sit in this hot mash being transformed by the very husks that protected us, we cannot help but be struck by the perfection of our creation. From stalk to germination to kiln to mash - the entire cycle contained in the same tiny seed that sprouted our parent-grasses!!
*     *     *
We are now feeling the real heat!! After mashing at saccrification temperatures for about 45 minutes, our conversion was complete: we are no longer starches but a mix of mostly mono-, di-, and trisaccharides. The Brewer determined it's time to "mash out" and yet again kicked up the heat. This time we reached about 170°F, and the amylase enzymes began to break down. The Brewer then gave the whole mash a hearty stir, and the husks settled into a thick bed with the most course fragments at the bottom and the gummy protein coagulation on the top. Over the next hour or two, the Brewer slowly and gently rinsed the grain bed with more 170°F water in a process he called "sparging." This leached as much of us simple sugars as possible without disturbing the grain bed, which acted as a filter to remove impurities like those pesky proteins and other solid particles that would taint the brew's clarity. He stopped the run-off before it was to diluted too far, which would have allowed harsh tannins into our sugary-sweet sanctuary, which he fondly called the "sweet liquor."

The Brewer captured all the sweet liquor runoff in the "brew kettle" and continued to heat it up to a rolling boil. Here we are, bubbling away, and more of the proteins and tannins that made it through the grain-bed filter float to the top in a foam called the "hot break," which the Brewer skims off and discards. The Brewer now calls the boiling sweet liquor "wort."

We have only been boiling in the wort for a short while when the Brewer tosses in dense, green pellets of processed hops, which dissolve on contact with the boiling hot wort. The processed pellets have less vegetal mass than the whole cones, which the Brewer will add later. As a result, the pellets contribute bitterness more efficiently without the risk of off flavors.

The hop flower cone, bisected to
show the yellow resin pouches.
Hops are the flower of the humulus lupus plant ("Wolf of the Woods," named by Pliny the Elder), an herbaceous perennial vine. It was first used in fermented barley drinks in the 11th Centruy, but its use didn't become ubiquitous in until the 16th Century, replacing other bittering herbs like dandelion, hoarhound, ivy, and many others in historic brews called "gruit." The flower of the hop vine produces resins that contain alpha-acids (and other flavor chemicals). The flowers are typically dried for storage or for processing into pellets. In addition to bitterness, flavor, and aroma, hops also help to stabilize beer by contributing antibiotic properties that favor brewer's yeast over other undesirable microbes.
Dried hop flowers (whole leaf hops)
and processed hop pellets

With the hop pellets dissolved, the high temperatures and agitating boil bring the alpha acids into solution. Over time in the boiling wort, these acids are isomerized, producing the bitter chemical compound iso-alpha acid. After about 40 minutes, the Brewer adds additional hops - this time, the dried hop flower. Since they aren't boiled in the wort for quite as long, fewer alpha acids are isomerized, and fewer of the other flavor and aroma chemicals (beta acid, humulene, myrcene, etc.) are broken down by lengthy exposure to boiling temperatures. The Brewer adds the final addition dried hop cones with just a few minutes remaining, and they contribute essential oils that give the beer its floral, spicy, or citrusy aroma.

Right now our collective consciousness is sublime, after over an hour being boiled in our dissociated, dissected physical state. The contribution of iso-alpha acids and hop-resin chemicals makes us feel euphoric yet bold. We can sense a change, and the level of the liquid is steadily dropping. Oh, well, we're so relaxed we could care less....
*     *     *
Brrrrrrrh! Suddenly we were awoken from our mellow, warm haze by a blast of cold rippling through the wort, and we realized we'd been pumped from the brew kettle through a "wort chiller." Within minutes, the entire batch of wort was been cooled from boiling to 60°F and placed in fermentation tanks. Oxygen was then pumped into the tank, a fair amount which was absorbed into solution at our cool temperature. The Brewer then "pitched" billions and billions of yeast cells for each liter of wort.

After all we've been through - harvesting, malting, mashing, and boiling - we are preparing for this final transformation without fear. The yeast cells have been steadily absorbing the oxygen, and they are now turning their attentions towards us, the simple sugars small enough to be absorbed into their cell walls.

The final epiphany dawns on our collective consciousness: We are to be processed by these yeast cells, providing energy and some raw materials for an awe-inspiring process called "fermentation." In the end, the yeast will discharge two primary byproducts, carbon dioxide and alcohol. We are ready to embrace our destiny and to become a prized and delicious beer, capable of delivering incomparable flavor and mild intoxication to those who choose to imbibe such an alembic brew!!

- Morning Brewer


PS (Pairing Suggestion): 

We need an epic brew to go with this epic show (and epic post, at least in length), so it's time to break out an old favorite: the India pale ale, or IPA. The apocrypha tells us that this style evolved to survive the long voyage from England to the colonial subcontinent. Pale ale was the favored style of the English upper class, so the military officers stationed in India demanded it be shipped to them, as ingredients and equipment for making quality pale ale were not available locally. Over the weeks (or months) it would take a ship to bring barrels of ale from England to India, the typical pale ale would stale and likely become infected with undesirable microbiota. As a result, brewer increased the amounts of alcohol (used more malt) and hops for their preservative qualities. (Interestingly, the porter style - typical of the working classes and thus the enlisted men - underwent similar transformation, though it was considered a "less refined" style to start with, and the "India" version did not survive.)

And then the Americans got a hold of it. And what did we do? The same thing we always do when we adapt a beer style to be our own - increase the alcohol and the hops to unrecognizable levels!! Thus, the American IPA is described as "a decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale." The American versions also tend to finish a bit dryer than the English versions, though there are plenty of malt-bombs that fall into the category, as well.

Relatively recently, Americans also developed an "extreme" version of this style, interchangeably using descriptors like "imperial," "double," or even occasionally "triple" to set particularly strong, extra-hoppy (even by American IPA standards) examples aside from their counterparts. It's a moving target, but anything above 8% ABV is probably an imperial IPA, at least in my book.

There are plenty of incredible versions of the American IPA available throughout the country, from the Hop Devil from Philly, the 60 Minute from Delaware, the Sculpin and Green Flash from San Diego, the Celebration from Chico, the Two Hearted ale from Michigan, the Blind Pig from Santa Rosa, and of course the Corruption from DC. But I want to focus on a new offering from Colorado that just hit the market: The Deviant Dale's, a super-charged version of the Dale's pale ale featured in the PS to a recent post.

This new brew is a favorite of the Morning Brewer.
Deviant Dale's pushes the upper limits of the style, clocking in at 8% ABV. It's served in 16-ounce tallboys, perfect for a hike, camping, a ballgame, or wherever. A couple of these after work (poured into proper glassware when at the house) gets me feeling just right for listening to a Dead show like this one in Frankfurt. As soon as you crack the can, the resinous, piney, and grapefruit aroma hits your nose. It pours a clear orange color, capped with a pillow of white foam on top. The aroma is truly astounding, and the longer you smell it, the more levels of citrus you pick up. Tangerine, orange, even a bit of lemon. This brew is chalk full of Chinook dry hops - added during secondary fermentation to only contribute aroma. It hits hard on the palate with a hefty amount of caramel malt sweetness, but there are plenty of hops to strike a drinkable balance. It's no wonder this brew took second place in the American IPA category at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival!!

A big, hoppy American IPA like this can stand up to a lot of flavor, so I recommend pairing it with something bold and flavorful. In honor of the blog's new "BBQ Pit" page, I'm pairing this one with the BBQ pork ribs I'm smoking this weekend!! (Check the new page for the recipe soon.) The beer's hop-bitterness complements the spice from the rub, while the smoke will help cope with the assertive malt that gives this beer a backbone as strong as Atlas's. Eat your heart out, Ayn Rand.


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* All songs but the following were released on Hundred Year Hall: "Mr. Charlie," "He's Gone," "Black-Throated Wind," "Chinatown Shuffle," "Loser," "BIODTL," "You Win Again," "Good Lovin'," "Dire Wolf," "El Paso," "Tennessee Jed," "Greatest," "The Stranger," and "Casey Jones." Gans explains that the first vault release of this show should have been named Centennial Hall, as a proper translation of the venue's name.
** McIntire also recounts the whole Grateful Dead family discovering Phil Lesh's doppelganger playing cello with the orchestra when they first arrived at the hall. For what it's worth, however, Dennis McNally recounts this story as occurring at the Musikhalle in Hamburg in his book Long Strange Trip,.
*** Bobby Ace wrote the song, after all, so he can forget it if he darn well pleases!
**** The book is phenomenal and has tidbits like Kant's piece that aren't included on the website. I've merely summarized Kant's contribution, which is not just informative but also entertainingly written.
***** However, I have heard Phil Lesh & Friends (and/or the post-Garcia band The Dead) perform this song with Warren Haynes on vocals. Stunningly emotional, but still not the same.


9 comments:

  1. (Anonymous: like the hacker group only cool-er): What an amazing (albeit long) post. So glad you did the bonus song of the day- The Stranger is an amazing song and seeing the lyrics broken down like that gives me a new appreciation for the song. Also, you should invite Barleycorn back as a guest blogger another time- who knew a grain could be funny AND informative? Looking forward to reading more, Morning Brewer!

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  2. We can each invite barleycorn over any time we want - just crack open a brew!!

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  3. Man, do I love this post!!!
    You seem to get Pig's soul expressed with such beautiful words. He truly shines especially while singing The Stranger. Too bad his moving organ sound is inaudible throughout this show.
    Bravo for the barley odyssey poetry!!!

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    1. Thanks and glad you enjoyed the post.
      As for the organ, do you have a recording from another source that has better organ in the mix? I was under the impression Pigpen's organ contributions were inconsistent on this tour. He may not have even been playing much this show.

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    2. As far as I know, Frankfurt is the only Europe 72 show that does not feature Pig's organ!!!???

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    3. Wow, I hadn't noticed he wasn't playing the whole show. Thanks for pointing that out - it was a great excuse to listen to this gem again!! I'll keep an eye out for other shows (if any) where the organ is missing.

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  4. Best. Post. Yet.

    Also, the Dead had a general counsel?!?!

    The ballad of the barleycorn was awesome, my friend. And I learned a lot about my favorite beer style! Sweet.

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    1. Thanks, brother Sammy!! Glad you liked it. And of COURSE the Dead had a General Counsel. He probably worked harder than GCs for most international unions....

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  5. Love your blog, man. The box set is a treasure chest of listening goodies for Heads. I've been trying to listen to the shows on the headphones (for my money the optimal listening experience, especially paired with decent cheeba). The 'Truckin' from this show is effing explosive. Love it. Why not do both Winterland Box Sets ('73 and '77) next. Or the Fillmore East '69, if you were lucky enough to grab one. Keep up the good writing.

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