As the world learned last month, Deltron beer is here! Teaming up with the brewmasters at Dogfish Head, Deltron’s producer extraordinaire Dan the Automator has hand-crafted a cider ale, appropriately named “Positive Contact,” that will be packaged with a lavish reissue of the Deltron 3030 album in May that’s being pitched as “a house party in a box.” Deltron 3030 and a satisfied palate? Sign us up. So ahead of the imminent futuristic hip-hop imbibing sessions, Hive caught up with Automator about the origins of the Deltron beer, the direction of the now completed and long awaited second Deltron album (called Deltron Event II, due out this summer), and a rundown of the Deltron cast’s favorite brews.
How did the opportunity to create a Deltron beer come about?
The guy who owns Dogfish Head is a fan of music and the music we do and has previously done editions with the Miles Davis estate and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. We have certain connections in the same circle, and I deal with a lot of food people, and we thought it’d be really fun to do something to commemorate the record.
So were you very hands-on in creating the flavor of the beer?
Absolutely. Sam Calagione [Dogfish's founder] has the restaurant he shares with Mario Batali in New York inside Eataly — they have a brew pub or like, a brew station there. So we went in there and experimented with a bunch of various ingredients. First they emailed and asked me about the kind of beers I like, the flavors I like, which grains, vegetables and herbs I like. So then Sam brought a supply of that stuff to New York and did a series of muddling together flavors; it’s more like infusing beer with flavors. Then we took the successful ideas and he combined them like an expert beer maker does.
The press release is touting the Deltron beer as being “brewed with wood-pressed Fuji apples, roasted farro, a handful of cayenne peppers and a late dose of fresh cilantro.” Which ingredients were the least successful tasting though?
There was a few! Anything with onions in it didn’t work very well! We tried nutmeg which just didn’t work for what we wanted. We went through about 30 or 40 ingredients and it was generally more a case of finding out what did work. We thought jalapeño would work well but cayenne worked better and the farro came out of left field. The thing with the flavors is one flavor can over encompass all the others. It’s very scientific and everything has to blend. Farro was the dark horse; it didn’t really do much as far as tasting but it did help overall. And surprisingly saffron did not work very well.
It’s described as a cider ale. Is it really sweet?
Yes, it’s a cider ale, but it’s not specifically sweet. We started out with an ale but really liked the Fuji apple flavor, so that leaned it a little towards the cider ale side.
Is Deltron’s beer better than Miles Davis or Eddie Vedder’s beer?
What beer would the other characters in the Deltron project drink?
First of all, Del likes fermented ale and on this [new] record he speaks about it, so that’s him. As far as Kid Koala, he’s from Canada so I’m gonna go with Molson even though I don’t know any better.
What about some of the other artists who appeared on Deltron 3030? How about Prince Paul?
Well he’s not a drinker, so we’re gonna have to go with the Kaliber, a non-alcoholic beer.
Ah, Damon! I find him to be most close to a brandy man, so brandy is apple, so a cider ale might be a good bet for him.
And Sean Lennon?
Sean, you know, having a little bit of Japanese lineage and vibe, I’m gonna go with the Hitachino, a white ale.
What other rappers do you think would come up with a great bespoke beer?
I would say this: Down south there’s a lot of good soul food and BBQ going on and that just seems akin to what you’d have a good beer with, so someone from that region. Andre 3000 is down there but he might be more of a health nut so I’m not sure what he’d come up with. But Big Boi? I’m sure he’d enjoy a good beer with his BBQ. The New Yorkers are a little more artisinal, but down South the heat and the weather matches well with the beer.
What food pairs well with the Deltron beer then?
Actually, part of this release package is going to be a bunch of my chef friends making recipes for my beer. They’re still coming in, so I don’t have them all in front of me, but David Chang, who has Momofuko, he brought in a chicken recipe, and Mario Batali brought in some ricotta and zucchini floret kinda things to go with the beer.
Is the new Deltron album finished?
We are missing two real small bits, but other than that, yes.
How does it differ from the first one?
It’s better. It’s a push forwards. The sounds grew, but a lot of the same people are on the record. I’m really excited about it, actually. Deltron’s kind of a labor of love, because it’s not going for that number one spot. It’s about making a really cool record and I think we’ve gotten there.
Can you reveal the guest artists on the new album?
I can but it just takes away all the fun, doesn’t it? You know, I think I’m not going to …but I think people will be pleasantly surprised.
As far at the Deltron story goes, does the new Deltron album pick up from where the first one left off?
Deltron essentially starts in the year 3030, and this one picks up about ten years later. Politically speaking, there’s certain parallels between what goes on in today’s society and what goes on there — it’s a little bit of a mirror. The world is a little different there but it’s going through a similar time with similar issues.