Beer and Pavement

Wowee Zowee: When Worlds Collide

Posted in Intersections by SM on April 24, 2010

In case you hadn’t figured it out, I blog about beer and music. Rarely do these two interests fit together, at least in quality, but I find a way when I can. There are the Hi-Life/PBR-guzzling indie rock fans or the craft brew-drinking fusion jazz dudes. In these instances, high quality beer does not match high-quality art. There is a disconnect.

Of course, the idea of high-quality music is way more subjective than similar thinking about beer. You can love Phish or Steely Dan1 and appreciate Magic Hat #9 and make an argument that you enjoy good music and beer. I won’t spend this post putting down those opinions because your heart is in the right place. You listen to the one Phish bootleg from the ’93 tour and it sounds amazing to you2. The vegetable in a bottle of #9 suits your tastes for respectable craft beer3. I get that. However, when you choose to see No Age/Pavement/Sonic Youth while swigging a can of PBR, knowing that the occasion should demand something better for your pallet, that is unacceptable4.

My point is that great beer should be paired with great music. I think you know where I stand on music5. I won’t argue my band versus yours. However, drinking swill because it’s cheap is not doing the experience of a great live show or essential record any good.

That said, I wanted to mesh my two interests. Since I am only a consumer of music, I decided to brew a beer in honor of one of my favorite albums by my favorite band. I present to you: Wowee Zowee Double India Pale Ale!

It doesn’t always work, but somehow this beer turned out. It’s a dank, dirty, stinky mess of a beer6. The aroma of grapefruit smacks you in the face as you open the bottle. It’s not even in the glass and you can tell what’s coming. The beer sticks to the sides of the glass7, almost to the point that is looks more like potato starch than beer residue. The Simcoe8 does not overwhelm the palate as the other hops and the strong malt backbone balance things out. And there’s booze. Lots and lots of booze9.

How does this fit with Pavement’s third proper LP?

I don’t know that I could have answered this question when I formulated the recipe. I knew that I wanted to make a big DIPA with lots of high-alpha hops. The recipe is a bit insane as far as the amount of ingredients. Folks worried that it would be too sweet or too bitter10, but the huge amounts of malt extract and a pound of hops balanced the scales. All that has nothing to do with the music.

Wowee Zowee the album, like the beer, is boozy and loopy throughout. There are moments of sweetness as well as bitterness, making both hard to swallow. Either way, both are packed with ingredients and complexity that somehow come out coherent and plausible at the end, momentarily staining the walls of your glass and your cerebral cortex in the most enjoyable way. I sometimes forget how much I like my homebrews and big, hoppy DIPA’s just as I’ve lost touch for periods of time with Wowee Zowee. Of course, whenever I reconvene with either, I get it again11.

I will never be able to create an album like Wowee Zowee (or any Pavement album for that matter), but I was able to create a beer that does one of my favorite records justice. Next up is a listening party with just my beer and Wowee Zowee on vinyl. Great beer can pair with great music.

1Actually, you can’t enjoy either…I’m kidding. Just don’t play that shit in my house…I’m kidding again. No. Seriously. Don’t ever play a Phish CD in my house EVER…I kid. No, I don’t.
2Of course, you’re stoned out of your gourd, but that’s besides the point.
3It doesn’t mine, but I can except that Magic Hat is a green-conscious microbrewery. So, they deserve some support and respect.
4Even when one cites cost, I can’t accept bad beer at a good rock show. Instead of drinking five PBR’s for about $10 at 4.7% ABV, drink a bomber of Avery Maharaja at 10.3% and actually enjoy your beer the same way in which you can enjoy your music.
5Like: Pavement, Sonic Youth, Wolf Parade, etc. Dislike: Phish, Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne, etc.
6These are actually good things in a beer. Sure, some will be turned off by such a beer, but it’s at the very least more interesting than a bland, rice-based beer with it’s fizzy yellowness and three hops.
7This is known as lacing, considered a sign of quality in a beer. Wine drinkers say that the wine has “legs”. Same thing.
8Simcoe is a hop that gives a beer a grapefruit flavor/aroma. It’s a high-alpha hop, so it also provides a lot of bitterness and character to the beer.
9Original estimates had this beer somewhere around 11%. That’s rather ridiculous for an extract homebrew. I bet it actually lands closer to 10%, but it’s boozy either way.
10A common concern among fellow brewers was that I’d never be able to fully ferment all that sugar, causing bottles to explode. Also, it was suggested that the beer would be just sugary and sweet. Then they worried about the hops making it too bitter, almost on the verge of undrinkable. Then they put the two together and just wanted to drink the beer.
11I still remember the road trip back from Coney Island where I saw the first ever Siren Festival. One of my traveling companions put on WZ and I fell in love with the album all over again.

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15 Responses

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  1. Holly said, on April 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    So Hopslam uses Simcoe then? It seems to have that grapefruit thing going on too. You going to do a tasting any time soon? I’d love to try it out. My own official beer expert next door raved about your Wowee Zowee.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on April 24, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      Yeah, I think Hopslam must have some Simcoe. I’m bringing some Wowee Zowee to the tasting on Monday.

      • Holly said, on April 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm

        Sadly, Monday evening isn’t in the cards for me this month (payday falls right after and, for the next two weeks, I have class on Monday nights after working all day so I am pretty dead by the end of that class). Maybe if you have the “listening party” with Jeff I could tag along for that.

        By the way, I love the groovy labels you make for your beers.

  2. Jeff said, on April 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I can testify: this beer is a wonderful sticky, dank, dirty mess. Super enjoyable! How do I get an invite to the listening party?

    Also: you may want to step away from the Phish hate. I think you’re confusing the band with their fans. “Junta” and “Lawn Boy” (the only two Phish albums I can listen to) have some amazingly intricate writing and a whole lotta musicianship.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on April 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm

      I don’t know how much of a “party” it’s going to be. I was thinking that I might be able to put the record on and enjoy a beer while the baby is away or asleep. Nothing special.

      • Jeff said, on April 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm

        OK. If you want company, let me know!

  3. doublewordscore said, on April 24, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    What’s wrong with Steely Dan?

  4. Holly said, on April 24, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    If I confess to liking Steely Dan (though I do have to be in the mood for them), can I still come to the Pavement listening party? 🙂

  5. […] Wowee Zowee: When Worlds Collide « Building International Coalitions Throug… […]

  6. Steve said, on May 11, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Fantastic post…and a great way to combine two of the finer things in life. I’ll be sure to keep checking out this place, the name alone suggests some sort of spiritual home for me.

    Will there be more accessible, easy-drinking beers for the later albums? A rough ‘n’ ready homebrew for the earlier stuff?

  7. builderofcoalitions said, on May 11, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks. I’ll try to keep posting, but it’s been slow-going lately. I saw that you were at the Brixton show. I’ll have to check out your blog as well.

    I don’t actually have plans for the other albums, but I suspect something along the lines of a Belgian Strong Ale for Slanted and maybe a saison for Terror Twilight.

    • Steve said, on May 11, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Sounds fantastic. You’re making me thirsty. I hope you manage to keep posting.

  8. […] I finished the last of the Wowee Zowee. My beer stood up well to a powerful list of IPA’s Monday night. And as my beer ended its […]

  9. […] really have no clue where to go with this one. Often, it’s where I start. For example, Wowee Zowee Double IPA was intended to pay homage to the Pavement album by the same name. It actually lived up to its […]

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