Dogfish Head’s Pearl Jam Twenty Faithfull Ale

Is there room enough for both of us?

Both of us apart?

Are we bound by obligation?

Is that all we’ve got?

I could never become an alcoholic; I like beer too much. The moment an interesting and challenging experience broadening companion becomes an overstayed fixture- no longer an invited guest and instead part of a contractual scripted routine- the magic is gone. You’re left with a choice: either plod through the monotony in enslaved reverence to the past or abandon the joyless exercise altogether. Either way, you’ve allowed the relationship to devolve into a sad, shadowy counterfeit of its former self.

It seems that the delicate balance we strike between celebration and exploitation is an obligation embedded within all realms of human experience: friendship, love, food, drink and music. Many subconsciously acknowledge this ever looming occupation and opt for the easy way out. Whether it’s Anheuser-Busch’s formulaic, watered down approach or LMFAO’s, many decide that it’s easier to simply appeal to the most basic desires of the masses: Numb my head and give me something to wag it to. Others choose to stir the pot and beat the drum goading the inherent curiousity of those who have chosen to indulge the deeper fervor for the truly exceptional buried within us all; medicinal and musical shamans administering their own spiritual ipecac:

Sometimes realize, I could only be as good as you’ll let me…

Those who choose to accept the challenge and embrace these more profound experiences are always better off for it, even if they are taken places they never thought they wanted to go. Many a devoted fan may have found themselves asking, “Really, Eddie? An entire album of ukulele songs?” Likewise, Dogfish Head may test even the most devoted of fans when choosing to throw raisins into the mix of one of their concoctions. Once you’ve committed to the ride though, it’s the collective refusal to remain static that becomes almost as important as the final product itself. Almost. It helps that even though sometimes it takes longer then expected, and it’s not what was expected, it’s almost always awfully good. The thing that sets the Pearl Jams and the Dogfish Heads of the world apart from the next garage band or basement brewer is that they always force you to recommit to the shared experience. They take the most devoted fan and rip off the blanket of familiarity and dare them to run to the comfort of one of the many imposters that they left in their wake. It’s this puritanical devotion to revised sensual indulgence that allows a band to go from small shitty bars to massive sold out amphitheaters over the course of twenty years and a once small brewer to go from a twelve gallon brewing capacity to nearly twenty styles of beer in seventeen years, both without losing any of the balls to the wall edgy attitude that got them there. It seems entirely natural then to have one offer the exercise of their craft to pay homage to the other.

Faithfull Ale is a Belgian style golden ale with a murky yellow orange color. It has a lemony bittersweet scent that instantly transports you to the parking lot of your favorite venue on a sunny summer day, anxiously anticipating the show and enjoying every minute leading to it. The ale is brewed with black currant, a little known fruit once banned from growth in the US due to its being a transmitter of a disease that infected trees. It seems a fitting addition to a beer dedicated to the emulation of a rock band: members of a genre often vilified for its corruption of the core of youth. It makes for a wickedly fantastic drink that’s crisp and cool with enough bite to make you want more. It’s easily a session beer without the blandness that the label implies. However, it is 7% ABV and a limited release so it may be better suited for a special occasion or after a particularly good Pearl Jam session.

So I raise my glass and offer a toast:

All hail the lucky ones, I refer to those in love…

…with the transcendence of mediocrity through the senses and the enjoyment of the offspring thereof. Now crank it up and drink it down!

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