For the first release in our Dylan series, I thought an excellent start would be his 1965 release, Bringing It All Back Home. By this time, Dylan had felt like “a pawn in the game” with the folk and protest music scene stifling his creativity and using him for their own purposes. On “Maggie’s Farm”, Dylan sings “Well, I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them. They say sing while you slave and I just get bored. I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.” I think the overall theme of this album could not be better summed up by any different lyric. This was Dylan stepping out, doing exactly what he wanted and not hiding his excitement about it. The folk music scene felt betrayed and labeled him a traitor, calling him “Judas” during his concerts.
Before Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan’s albums had all been acoustic, featuring just his voice, guitar and harmonica. On this album, the entire first side had Dylan accompanied by an electric rock and roll band with terrific blues inspired riffs, starting with the fantastic “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. And although the second side is all acoustic like his previous works, Dylan’s lyrics had grown from those of political and protest themes to creating more surreal images and using his personal life for inspiration. This is an album full of contrasts and assertive independence.
We tried to capture that independent spirit by trying to create contrasts within this sour IPA. Just like the folk music scene had expected another acoustic album from Dylan, the modern day craft beer scene expects IPAs, as they are by far the most popular style at this time. Adding the sour component is our version of “going electric” on the first side of the album. While brewing IPAs is fantastic and enjoyable, every once in awhile you want to step out on your own, experiment with different techniques and try to make something different and original. And just as Dylan’s songs would have been fantastic without the electric accompaniment, this IPA would also have been great without the sour addition, but both inclusions add a little something extra that stamps the work with a sovereign pride.
Bringing It All Back Home was divisive in a lot of ways. In concert footage taken during that time, you can hear both cheers and boos from the crowd when Dylan plays electric songs. A lot of people just wanted to hear his acoustic folk songs and were unwilling and unable to accept this new direction his sound was heading. My hope is this beer won’t be quite as divisive (I’m not sure I could handle my beer being booed!), but I think it will lend itself to interesting conversations and dissections.
To brew this beer, we kettle soured the mash for 24 hours, much like a berliner weisse, but then hopped it like an IPA with Amarillo and Citra. The malt bill is very simple, comprising of only pilsner, vienna and wheat. This was fermented with our house ale strain, known for being very clean and neutral, before dry hopping with another blend of Amarillo and Citra.
I equated Dylan’s falling out with the folk scene as the beer equivalent of violating the Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law of 1516, which states that beer can only be made with malt, water and hops (yeast was added later after it’s discovery). So, we added pineapple juice in the mash to violate the Reinheitsgebot, as well as to add an extra dash of complexity to this already unique beer.
In the aroma of this beer, I pick up pineapple, grapefruit and passion fruit, with a mild amount of funk from the lactic sourness. The flavor is is mostly void of that funkiness, focusing more on the tropical hop flavors, exerting melon, lime and grapefruit. The acidity from the souring accents these fruity hop flavors and lends depth. Bringing It All Back Home Sour IPA finishes dry, leaving you wanting another sip.
I greatly enjoy this beer and thoroughly enjoyed trying to find common threads between this album and beer in general while putting the recipe together. Will you enjoy this beer? I certainly hope so, but only you and your tastebuds can decide that. In the words of Dylan, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Enjoy.