Ska Music + Ska Beer = Good Times

Nate Springfield, January 14, 2014

Between the start of my winter break at work and Christmas my friend MHW Stone’s birthday always happens. And when I say happens, I mean we make it an event. We were lucky enough this year to take in a nice little concert on his birthday in Chicago, as Boston natives Big D and the Kids Table were making a stop at Reggie’s on the Near South Side of Chicago.

Stone and I have seen Big D many times in the past. I imagine anytime they have made a stop in either St. Louis or Chicago since we discovered them on the Warped Tour in 2004, we have been in attendance.

The band is led by their energetic, and really all around awesome lead singer David McWane. David and saxophonist Ryan O’Connor routinely hang out at the merch table (cool way of saying merchandise for you non-show-goers) after the band plays, and are both fairly easily convinced to go have a drink at a local establishment after the show is over.

Being this was the first time either of us had been to Reggie’s, we figured we would be stuck “enjoying” domestic tap beer if we would want to have anything to drink during the show. I’ve never been to a venue this small that served bottles, for safety reasons, and most similar places do not want to carry $5.00-$7.00 cans of beer, because they typically wouldn’t sell. What a pleasant surprise it was to see a tremendous selection of Craft Cans to drink when we stepped up to the bar. And since we were at a ska show, it seemed only appropriate to start with a Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi – so we did. Then we had another, and probably at least one more (or eight).

This night in Chicago, Stone and I saw David and Ryan come out on the floor to watch one of the opening bands, The Pietasters, play – also an excellent ska band.  Knowing what we know, we bought two tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon for them and headed their way to talk some music. To my surprise, Ryan was also enjoying a Modus. I kind of felt bad, because now that I have had 1 or 2 (well probably a few more) Modus myself, I would not want to switch to something like Pabst – but they both said thank you, drank the PBR, and shared some stories about touring and as well as projects they were working on.

By the time Big D hit the stage, the birthday boy and I had spent quite a bit of money at the bar between our drinks and being generous with a horn section or two. The band played a great selection of older favorites – even though 175 was not included – and a few songs off their most recent double disc release. In fact the concert was so good, and the drinks were so plentiful, I made an appearance in my first pit in over a decade (do they even call them “pits” anymore) and MHW Stone went on his first stage diving excursion ever. This was skillfully and successfully executed without security tackling him or anyone in the crowd dropping him on his head.

After the show, our efforts to get backstage were thwarted a few times, Stone lost his Detroit Lions hat, and we sat at the bar to just enjoy one more Modus Hoperandi before leaving. As we were sitting there, kinda sweaty, probably smelly, and definitely not able to drive, I just thought that I bet this is exactly what this beer was brewed for: To be enjoyed while and after enjoying the kind of experience we just had. Tremendous energy, a hell of a good time, and something that will not be duplicated any time soon. The evening was capped off by a long ride back to Wrigleyville on the red line before stopping in at Stone’s local hole in the wall for one more birthday toast.

The night would not have been what it was without the Modus Hoperandi.

Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi

Appearance = NA/5

It was dark, and I was drinking it out of a can, so I cannot comfortably comment, but the can is pretty awesome.

Smell = 4/5

A strong hoppy smell. If someone not expecting to smell an IPA took a whiff, they would make an uncomfortable face and hand the can back to you, but if you knew what you were getting yourself into, it smells delicious.

Taste = 5/5

It is a strong hoppy taste throughout - not too much front, a solid middle, with a nice full ending.

Mouthfeel = 5/5

It is a little fuller of a feel than what you would expect, but without a lot of carbonation, it drinks very easily - from what I remember.

Overall = 4.5/5