The central observation that led to this brew was that I’ve been grounding a lot of my fruit beers—Jigokudani, La Mancha, Ottoman Lanes—in very light, thin malt bills. For whatever reason, the family was on a pomegranate kick, and a pomegranate beer felt like the right next experiment. But enough already with the Pilsner and Munich malts—it was time to put a little bit of wood behind the ball.
Dunkelweizen—that is, a darker German wheat beer—was a style I hadn’t yet worked with. The traditional weizen yeast generates esters and phenols that give the characteristic banana and clove flavors, respectively. Banana felt like a good pomegranate complement (beer smoothie?); clove, maybe not so much. This led me back to the Omega Bananza yeast I had used to make the tasty Illuminatus. Same yeast; very different overall flavor profile.
With a strong malt backbone, I could go long on the pomegranate: a quart of juice and 3 pomegranates worth of seeds went into secondary, and I primed my bottles with pomegranate molasses rather than the more traditional corn sugar solution.
We are very happy with the results over here at the Yeastworks—it’s sweet and tart and malty in all the right ways. Son Henry in particular thinks this is the best beer that I’ve done, so it will be on the rebrew list.
The name for this one was hard. The pomegranate is commonly associated with Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades and became queen of the underworld. This fact appears to be widely understood by the larger brewing community and a lot of the obvious Greek underworld-adjacent names have been taken. One that had not: Asphodel, the region of the underworld inhabited by people who had done absolutely nothing of note.
The name led to various free-associations with the afterlife and somewhere along the way we came to The Seventh Seal. This merged with some musings on the pointless pastimes that might fill a mediocre eternity, and the label image came into focus. It clearly had to be done in a faux-medieval style, and parismf from Argentina was happy to oblige. Henry notes the strong resemblance of my bickering players to the fabled headless men of the middle ages—I agree.
Deerhoof’s instant-classic Actually, You Can crams an hour and a half of music into 33 minutes. If you threw Pete Townshend and the Dalai Lama into a blender with a dozen mariachis on Adderall, this is more or less what you would get.