I set this post by Beervana‘s Jeff Allworth aside to respond at a certain point but (almost) forgot. It seems that there is a company out there trying “to provide concertgoers with unique craft beers” designed by the bands performing at their venue. The company allows the bands to try some beer and notes what they like. The band is then invited out to a brewery so as to better understand the process. From all this, a beer specially-designed by the band is served at their shows.
It’s an excellent idea that appeals to me for obvious reasons. I could go on all day about what styles various bands might choose to brew. Dinosaur Jr. would brew a dank DIPA measuring over 100 IBU’s. Tune-Yards might choose a Saison with loads of Brettanomyces. Guided By Voices…well, you know.
Then, I read the following comment at the end of the Beervana post…
First of all, I don’t mean to call out Pivni. I partly agree with him. It’s not ideal to have non-beer folk design a beer. However, who’s to say these bands aren’t equipped with taste buds? Offer them an array of interesting beers and they’re sure to pick something that’s flavorful and complex. The problem only arises when the beers you let them try or pick from aren’t much better than whatever they normally drink (assuming they drink swill).
Interestingly, Jeff imagines some of Portland’s indie elite (and there are many) choosing their own favorite styles. One would have to agree that a Portlander would choose some great styles as the average beer IQ in Portland is certainly higher among all residents, even among the musician types. Where Pivni points to musicians’ beer ignorance leading to somewhat uninspired beers, Jeff sees musicians in a beer-friendly culture designing beers we beer enthusiasts would actually like.
Of course, this is not the audience for which these beers are intended. No, they’re for live music fans. Have you been to many rock shows in your lifetime? I’ll just say that most rock show attendees are not sipping a Westvleteren 12 from a chalice. They’re drinking a PBR or Hi-Life.
Regardless. It’s an interesting idea to serve beer designed by a band at their shows. I applaud the inventiveness, even if the there are holes in the logic. I’d really like to see this idea practiced in a place like Portland. Maybe Portland bands could tour with their beer to serve at shows. That I’d like to see.
1 If it takes off, one of two things is certain to happen. This blog will be seen as a touchstone in music and beer integration. That or I will open a venue/brewery that does this very thing. Since I have no money to start the latter, I’ll assume the former will happen any day now.
2 OR what I as a beer geek would hope they would brew.
3 Honestly, I have no problem with him. He actually writes a fairly interesting blog. I just wish Google Translator did a better job of translating.
4 I don’t know this to be the case. What I do know is that the brewery is located in the UK and I find most British beers to be not much more inspiring than most rice-adjunct, industrial lagers. That’s just my opinion and there are people way more qualified in beer knowledge that would dispute this assessment. For argument’s sake, let’s say a band really likes the tried and true ESB. So what if they help design another ESB that just tastes like all the other ESB’s out there? Put their taste buds to the test and force these bands to design something insanely original. I mean, they are creative people.
5 Thankfully, most of the venues around here have added some quality craft beers to their taps. I’ve had a lot of Lagunitas IPA over the last couple of years.
6 Of course, with state beer laws the way they are, this could never work. A boy can dream, can’t he?
In last week’s top-5, I predicted there would be some indie rock tribute beers this year. Since I want to be part of the solution and not the problem, I have decided to post five possible examples of beers that could be brewed as a way to properly recognize the chemistry that exists between indie rock and craft beer.
5. Dogfish Head Guided By Voices Heavy Lager – I once heard Bob Pollard proclaim on stage that he drinks “Bud Heavy” and not Bud Light. So, I think Dogfish Head needs to produce a “heavy” lager, maybe an imperial pilsner or high ABV bock of some sort and dedicate it to the reunited classic GBV lineup. I chose Dogfish Head because they’ve done this sort of thing before and there’s a picture of Sam Calagione wearing a GBV t-shirt out there somewhere.
4. Stillwater Bright Eyes Angst-Ridden Saison, Aged in Red Wine Barrels – I once had a pretty in-depth discussion about Bright Eyes with Stillwater brewer Brian Strumke. So, I know he’s a fan and would totally be into this sort of thing. I also know that Conor Oberst loved some red wine. If anyone could figure out a way to brew the perfect beer involving a red wine barrel (Pinot Noir possibly?), it’s Brian. This is actually the beer on this list that I personally think has the best chance of actually happening.
3. The Bruery Pavement Pilsner, AKA Watery Domestic – Of course I had to figure out a way to work Pavement into a beer. I suspect The Bruery could tap into Pavement’s Northern California aesthetic from their early days and brew their first commercially-available pilsner in the process. Since it’s from The Bruery, expect some flavors and adjuncts that will throw you for a loop.
2. Shmaltz Brewing Company He’Brew Yo La Tengo Barley Wine – A better brewery and band pairing would be hard to conjure. Shmaltz calls NYC home and specializes in Jewish-themed brews with their He’Brew line, particularly their Hanukkah gift pack. Yo La Tengo hails from across the river in Hoboken, but they spend a lot of time in the City. Every year, YLT celebrates their Jewish heritage with a set of shows each night of Hanukkah. A huge barley wine that improves with age would be ideal.
1. Just About Any Portland Brewery to Brew an IPA in Honor of Just About Any Portland Band – I get that this will be seen as a cop-out, but how could one narrow Portland’s beer and music scenes to just one brewery and one band. The one thing that isn’t hard to figure out is the beer’s style. An IPA makes the most sense here as some of the best come from Portland. Their bitterness can be a turn-off for some at first, but eventually the joy that is a Wests Coast IPA is discovered. The same goes for the average Portland indie band.
Update: This happened today. Let’s get on this, Stillwater, Bruery, Schmaltz, et al.