Music and Beer Together

Eno Sarris, June 30, 2014

I don't know that much about Guided by Voices. But, apparently,  20 years ago they recorded their first album. Dogfish Head would like to celebrate that album with a beer. It's fun to mix music and beer and so I celebrate them despite not knowing that much about Guided by Voices. (I also like Japan, so.)

The way they will accomplish this is also fun.

To celebrate that independent spirit and the 20th anniversary of the band’s classic album Bee Thousand, Dogfish Head has brewed BEER Thousand. This imperial lager, chosen to echo the copious amounts of lager that fueled GBV’s garage recordings, is brewed with 10 grains and 10 hop varieties, and clocks in at 10% ABV.

10x10x10 = BEER Thousand.

Well, hello there 10% ABV Lager. Sounds like this will stretch the limits of the style while also having some indie-rock-fueled fun.

Dogfish Head has done this before. Not only did they do a beer with musician Julianna Barwick (Rosabi), but they did something I've already (internally) lauded them for doing.  

I do love Bitches' Brew by Miles Davis. I remember the second or third show I ever went to was Miles Davis at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Atlanta. Blew my mind. I remember climbing into my new friend's dorm room through the window in college and asking them what they were playing. Blew my mind. I remember seeing John McLaughlin live in Berkeley. Blew my mind. 

I won't claim that Dogfish Head's Miles Davis' Bitches Brew blew my mind in the same way, but I do remember drinking that gesho root infused triple stout and wondering what the hell kind of taste that was that made its way into my imp stout.

In a similar way, Dan the Automator played an important role in my college experience. Before there was Lovage, before there was Gorillaz, before there was Deltron 30/30, before there was Handsome Boy Modeling School, there was Dr. Octagonecologyst. If you haven't enjoyed Blue Flowers, you haven't enjoyed some of the most psychadelic music of the 90s. So, enjoy, even if Postive Contact spiced-apple pils flavors didn't hit all the right tastes for you, both the music and the beer represented noble efforts: 

Given that they've also done a tribute to my father's music, Dogfish Head (more than) once before played proper tribute to a momentous moment in music, and I salute them. The experimentation (and failure) that is so important to the creativity in music is important in beer making, and DFH isn't afraid to fail to be creative.

They are not alone, though. Pitchfork is a website, but it's also a festival (or three), and for their seminal Chicago festival, they have set up what might become an annual tradition: a Goose Island beer headed straight to the festival. Last year, they had two: Killer Mike and El-P brewed Run the Jewels (a Belgian wheat ale), and Forcone, a session pale. Both were well received, and any future collaboration should be eagerly anticipated.

Last year's collaboration also produced what might be a unique event: El-P and Killer Mike had their Goose Island brewer on stage to debut their beer during their show, showering him with attention and the adoration of the fans. Not many brewers have had that pleasure, nor will they going forward. But maybe, you brewer, maybe you, too, will some day wear your brewer's shirt on stage in front of thousands. Maybe. 

String Cheese Incident does what you might call slamgrass. It's not for everyone, but I did spend a Saturday night in my youth trying to sneak into one of their shows before settling for bad beers and muffled sounds behind the venue. Put their keyboardist (Kyle Hollingsworth) together with Keri Kelli from Alice Cooper, and, well, I'm not sure I'd like to listen to the music they'd put forth together, but I did enjoy the beer. Stone's Collective Distortion brought elderberries and coriander into an interesting IPA -- so anything's possible. 

(This wasn't Hollingsworth's first effort. He made a beer called Hoopla Pale Ale with Boulder Beer, and he also created a cask IPA with Sweetwater. He even has a music and beer festival called Kyle's Brewfest. He might possibly be the patron saint of this article.) 

We'll ignore the efforts from Kid Rock, Jimmy Buffet and Hanson here. Seems about right for here, and now. 

Search BeerGraphs for 'music,' as lame as that might be, and you get one fun result: a beer called Music Non-Stop Techno Pop by To øl. But apparently that pils was brewed for a restaurant called Restaurant Pop. Little music here. 

More along these lines is Portland's Maltball. The yearly festival brings together the best in Portland's indie music and beer scenes, and perhaps every city should do more of this. 

Or maybe we should look to Three Floyds for the ideal mix of music and beer. Not only has the band collaborated with musicians, they've allowed the ethos of a music to permeate their entire being

Music is culture is beer. The sentence makes a little sense.