Animals American Rye Stout

Animals is Pink Floyd’s darkest and most bitter album, narrowing the entire human race into three classes, conniving, insincere and aggressive businessmen (“Dogs”), the hypocritical, greedy and callous upper class and government (“Pigs”) and meek, obedient and dim peasants (“Sheep”). Jeez, which one do you think you are? The album is loosely based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, released in 1945. However, Animal Farm is a critique of communism and Stalinism, while Animals is a strong critique of capitalism. Pigs are the main characters in Orwell’s novella, and also represent the government. Sheep are also big characters in the book, blindly bleating their support for the pigs even though they have limited understanding of what is really going on. One difference is with the dogs. In the book, the dogs are the pig’s security force with symbolize Stalin’s secret police, while dogs are businessmen on the album. One could make the argument that both are ruthless and hostile. Another main difference is that the end of the book has the pigs firmly in power while the sheep revolt and are victorious at the end of the album. Roger Waters again came up with the concept for the album, and they don’t waste much time sicking their teeth in.

After the short, 1:25 min long “Pigs on the Wing 1”, the album gets rocking with the awesome “Dogs”, which takes up the rest of the first side of the album. “Dogs” tells the story of a dashing businessman with a “A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.” At the same time, this person is just waiting for people to trust him “So that when they turn their backs on you, You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.” Eventually, he realizes it’s not so easy anymore, and it keeps getting harder and harder as he gets older, so he retires, flying down south, and is “Just another sad old man, All alone and dying of cancer” while being “dragged down by the stone.” The end of the song makes more direct comparisons between humans and dogs, equating wearing a suit to wearing a collar, receiving bonuses instead of pats on the back and learning skills as being “told what to do by the man.” It doesn’t take a genius to see that Floyd (specifically Waters) did not think highly of modern business practices, or the people who practiced them. Just as the dogs would terrorize the sheep and other animals on the farm if they did not obey, Floyd illustrates how the dogs take advantage of other animals, by “picking out the easy meat” and “striking when the moment is right.”

The band sets its target on the government and upper class next on “Pigs (Three Different Ones).” Depending on how you look at it, the “three pigs” could refer to the monarch, Prime Minister and Cabinet in England, or the 3 tiers in the United States. Also, in the book, there are 3 main Pigs, Snowball, Napoleon and Squealer, all in charge at one point or another (or in Squealer’s case, 2nd in command). There are also 3 different songs with “pigs” in the title on the album, so it could be a simple as that. However, the exact identity of the 3 pigs is not known; only a 1960-70’s morality campaigner is directly called out in the third verse. In either case, the pigs represent the top of society who encourage violence in order to keep their power. The lyrics “With your head down in the pig bin, Saying ‘Keep on digging’” are reminiscent of when the pigs would sit in Farmer Jones’ house drinking alcohol (originally forbidden in the commandments of Animalism) while encouraging the rest of the animals to keep working. It is also a shot at the wealthy upper class in their mansions while the lower class struggles to make ends meet. The song is angry and very insulting toward the Pigs, calling them charades, a good laugh, jokers and bus stop rat bags, amongst others. The band also calls out the government’s use of force and violence in order to promote patriotism with lyrics “You like the feel of steel, You’re hot stuff with a hatpin, And good fun with a hand gun” and “And when your hand is on your heart, You’re nearly a good laugh.”

The last animals to be highlighted are “Sheep”, symbolizing the peasants, the working class, or the unquestioning supporters of any particular political party. In the book, the sheep are notorious for constantly bleating their support with slogans like “Four legs good, two legs bad”, similar to chants you would hear at a campaign rally. Just as the sheep did not fully comprehend the politics of the farm, Floyd makes a similar statement with “Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away; Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.” The lyrics also recall assertions made in “Pigs” about the use of violence and how the upper class manipulates the lower class for their own benefit with “Meek and obedient you follow the leader down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.” The most harrowing and sinister part of the song is when a version of Psalm 23 is spoken through a synthesized voice box. The words are changed to fit the theme of the song. The complete verse is:

     The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
     He makes me down to lie
     Through pastures green He leadeth me the silent waters by.
     With bright knives He releaseth my soul.
     He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.
     He converteth me to lamb cutlets,
     For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger.
     When cometh the day we lowly ones,
     Through quiet reflection, and great dedication
     Master the art of karate,
     Lo, we shall rise up,
     And then we’ll make the bugger’s eyes water.

The mention of religion could be a reference to the raven in the book, Moses, who regales the animals with stories of a peaceful afterlife where they’ll be able to rest from their strenuous work in this life. It also brings to mind how the pigs treated Boxer in the book. Boxer was their strongest and most faithful worker, who trusted the pigs to bring him to “silent waters” through “pastures green.” After being wounded at the Battle of the Windmill, he collapses one day and is sold to a knacker in exchange for more whiskey for the pigs (lines 4-7 in the modified Psalm).

It also foreshadows the sheep’s rebellion and eventual victory at the end of the song. However, the lyrics only reference that the dogs are dead, not the pigs. The ending guitar riffs signify victory and almost sound like a celebration, although the end of the story is left to our imagination. Will the sheep overthrow the pigs as well? Will the sheep replace the dogs and there’ll be a new class of sheep? Will the dogs eventually return and put the sheep back in their place?

While we can only speculate those answers, the album ends with “Pigs on the Wing 2”, and the return is a humongous contrast from the rest of the album. Rogers sings “You know that I care what happens to you, And I know that you care for me.” He refers to himself as a dog and that he doesn’t feel the weight of the stone that previously dragged him down. The album ends on a sweet, positive and hopeful tone, suggesting that maybe all the flaws he raged about in the previous 3 songs can be solved and that a utopian society is, perhaps, possible. After the heavy 3 songs that preceded it, it allows the listener to exhale and start to process what we just heard.

Even though Pink Floyd had touched on darker themes on both Dark Side of the Moon as well as Wish You Were Here, Animals was distinctly different. All three had unifying concepts from start to finish, but each proceeding album became more direct and angrier. For instance, Dark Side of the Moon deals mostly with insanity and isolation. Wish You Were Here also touched on those themes, but also ripped into the music industry. Animals also took the opportunity to critique, but instead of signaling out a portion of society, they decided to attack society as a whole (perhaps why Waters refers to himself as a dog in “Pigs on the Wing 2”). There are 997 words in Animals but only 573 in Wish You Were Here, which is significant as the band trended toward being more lyrically heavy with less reliance on long, sweeping solos and experimental synthesizers, which would continue into their next album, The Wall. (for reference, this blog post has 2291 words)

Animals and Wish You Were Here are very different, but they no doubt share some similarities. For one, they both have five tracks, and they both have a single song broken up into two parts to bookend the album. While “Pigs on the Wing” is not nearly as grandiose as “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”,  it separates itself from the rest of its album as “Shine On” more or less defines Wish You Were Here. Wish You Were Here starts and finishes sentimental and sweet, with critiques of the music industry in between. Likewise, Animals starts and finishes sweet, with critiques of business, society and political conditions in between. Like the previous album, Animals relies heavily on synthesizer, despite the fact that the album is the first that keyboardist Richard Wright did not receive a composer’s credit. In fact, continuing the trend that started with Dark Side of the Moon, bassist Roger Waters came up with the concept for the album, composed almost all of it and sings almost all the lyrics.

Because of these similarities, I wanted to have some ingredients that overlapped but would produce very different flavors. They both use Briess 2 row as the base malt, they both use Centennial hops prominently in the boil, and are both dry hopped with only Centennial. They’re both dark in color (Animals is 1 SRM darker) and are extremely close in ABV (again, Animals is .1% higher). That’s really where the similarities end. Although both beers utilize heavy whirlpool additions, Animals gets 42.7% of its hops in the whirlpool, while Wish You Were Here gets 84.1% in the whirlpool. This change gives Animals a more harsh and direct bitterness, while Wish You Were Here has a softer bitterness with an emphasis more on hop flavor. Animals also gets its color from roasted barley, black barley and chocolate malt while Wish You Were Here gets color from Carafa Special 3, a dehusked malt. When roasting malt, it’s the husk that develops the bitter, acrid, astringent and more coffee like flavors, so that’s why those flavors are very prominent in Animals and for the most part absent from Wish. These darker and more bitter malts symbolize the shift from focusing ire just on the music industry specifically to society as a whole. Roasted malts also have a higher impact on foam color, which is why Wish has a more creamy white color than Animals. They both utilize flaked malts for mouthfeel, a similarity for sure, but Wish You Were Here has flaked oats as opposed to the flaked rye in Animals. Looking at the beers, they are very similar at the surface, but they are unmistakably different once you take sip.

Just as Waters was inspired by Animal Farm, the recipe for Animals American Rye Stout was loosely inspired by two “animals” in our beer lineup. The grist is almost identical to our Bear Paw Oatmeal Milk Stout, one of our core 6 beers. The differences are we replaced the flaked oats of Bear Paw with flaked rye for Animals, replaced two bags of 2 row with 2 bags of malted rye and removed the lactose sugar addition. Outside of that, Bear Paw and Animals are exactly the same when it comes to malt. The rye additions were inspired by our Boxer Saison (whose name was inspired by the horse in Animal Farm...ahh see what we did there??) Boxer and Animals both use flaked and malted rye, and have almost the exact percentage of total rye in the grist, with Animals clocking in at about 16%. The spiciness of the rye is not only a nod to Boxer, but also symbolizes the fantastic complexity in the layers of sound on this album, especially from the synthesizer. Animals finishes at about 3.5° Plato, which is a little higher than the majority of our beers (I normally like my beer pretty dry). This symbolizes the end of the album where Waters offers a glimmer of hope in the simple and sweet “Pigs on the Wing 2.”

Overall, I think an American Rye Stout is a fantastic beer to represent Animals. It’s dark, bitter, spicy and complex. It doesn’t pull any punches and says what it needs to say. The beer is similar. The dark, coffee like roast hits you up front with a strong bitterness. Nutty, caramel, dark chocolate and espresso-like flavors from the malt intertwine with citrus and floral notes from Centennial hops and soft fruits from our house ale strain. The rye is prominent and takes more of a center stage as the beer warms. The final stats are 7.3% ABV, 60 IBU and 31 SRM.

I’m writing this post with about a foot of snow of the ground, and I think this would be a lovely beer to slowly sip on a day like this. The album may be sinister and angry, but our staff certainly is not, so come snowshoe down to the brewery and hang out for a few pints. I hope you will enjoy the 3rd release of our Pink Floyd series and, as always, Hop On!

~Dave