So, I was having trouble coming up with something to write. It seems that I’ve been wrapped up in all the #OccupyWallStreet drama. To satisfy this occupation of my attention, I could go to our own Occupy COMO demonstration, but I figured I’d blog about it instead. (It takes all kinds to make a social movement successful.)
What does a blog about some guys hobbies have to say about the Occupy series of protests? Plenty. So, I’ll keep it brief.
You see, craft breweries and indie labels are occupying their industries in much the same way those protesters in NYC are doing. They’ve held a spot in their respective industries that their corporate overlords don’t like. It makes corporations nervous to see the little guys one-up them. Craft breweries and indie labels represent a portion of their market they can’t have. They represent defiance. Corporations don’t handle defiance very well.
The reason these breweries and labels can take on corporate behemoths is because what they do comes from people. Despite what some might suggest, corporations are not people. What they do is for profit, to crush the competition, and to dominate their sector. And it’s okay not to see corporations as people. They don’t see us that way. We’re just numbers, demographics, and consumers. Craft brewing is about the people. Most breweries started with a guy or gal brewing some beer in a garage. Similarly, indie labels started with people wanting to get their music out into the world. Both have goals of making the world better, more enjoyable through their craft. Sure, a profit that allows them some financial security and the ability to take care of their people is part of it, but profit doesn’t come before quality for these entities.
Craft breweries are taking back the beer market, a market that used to belong to the people and not faceless corporations. There used to be breweries in every city. Then, Prohibition happened. Some breweries closed; others diversified. Eventually, a few larger breweries bought up all the local breweries. Eventually, beer went corporate. Then, certain developments happened. Jimmy Carter helped make it legal for folks to brew at home. A few folks traveled through Europe, discovering that beer could vary in flavor, appearance, and style. In the midst of all this, Fritz Maytag was making some things happen with the old Steam Beer Brewing Company. Three decades later, craft beer is slowly taking back beer for the people.
Indie rock has had a similar timeline and method. Punk rock showed kids they could make something people wanted to hear. Networks and labels popped up throughout the 80’s, making it possible for these self-taught, self-promoted, and self-recorded artists to make a go at a career. This movement gave independent artists scaffolding for gaining the solid foothold in the industry, again, returning a share of the market to the people.
Like the Occupy movement, craft beer and indie rock have taken a long and arduous path in taking on large corporations. The occupiers in New York and elsewhere are just getting started. Their fight is a noble one, but they are not alone. People all over this country are taking back some control from corporations. Whether that be in the form of establishing their own place in a corporate-dominated market or just a fight for an economic and political system that actually works for the people, we are all occupying space that corporations can’t have back.
Now, I recognize that this is just a post about beer and music. The actual occupiers are doing important work. And there’s no better talking head on the internet than Jay Smooth to put things into perspective…
The Hopry is starting a new series where they list top-5 beers that fill a particular need. The first post in the series focused on the top-5 beers you should always keep in the fridge. You can see their list and eyeball mine below. After that, I’m also including a list of top-records to always have around.
Keep in mind that these might not be the five best beers/records. The idea is to have every need covered with just the five selections. While I recognize my fives don’t have everything for everyone, it’s still my house. This is what I have to offer.
So, check it…
5 Beers for the Fridge
Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale – Saisons are a versatile alternative to the over-hopped/hyped IPA’s and dirty, dirty stouts. They are light with a touch of tartness and spice, perfect for pairing with fish and/or poultry. This is easily one of my favorite saisons. Now that it’s available in 12 oz. bottles, it’s easy to keep some on hand for any occasion. I considered sticking The Bruery’s Saison Rue in this slot, but The Bruery is not available in Missouri and they only come in 750 mL bombers.
Ska Modus Hoperandi – One has to have a hopbomb around, right? Modus is quickly replacing spots in fridges around Middle Missouri that were once held down by Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. The fact that this beer comes in a can makes it perfect for this list. Cans tend to keep IPA’s better than bottles and they’re easily stored. I eventually want a beer fridge and have fantasized filling the “can dispensers” in those things usually reserved for PBR and Coke Zero with some Modus.
Bell’s Expedition Stout – This is maybe my favorite beer. Bigger, blackerer, and full of molasses, Expedition is a go-to imperial stout that should be in every fridge and beer closet. Besides sipping on the good stuff, I periodically make ice cream out of this Texas (via Michigan) tea. The best part is that the ice cream recipe leaves me a half bottle to finish as I churn the creamy concoction.
Cantillon Kriek – I considered New Belgium’s La Folie for the token sour stand-by, but that only comes in bombers. Cantillon is the fine wine of the beer world and they sell their beers in smaller bottles for a somewhat affordable treat. This beer fills the sour need as well as showing your guests that fruit does belong in beer from time to time.
Dogfish Head India Brown Ale – This is the only beer not readily available in Missouri, but I try to have it around as much as possible. Besides being a really great beer, IBA is the perfect beer to pair with almost any food, especially those of the greasy, meaty variety. I essentially proclaimed that the most perfect pairing ever was a Booches burger and a DfH IBA and I still stand by that assertion. The combination of hops cutting through grease and sweet malty goodness balancing the richness of the meat is too good not to experience at least once.
As you can see, my beer list is pretty diverse. The records didn’t turn out that way, but my taste in music is much, much narrower than my taste in beers. Just look at the blog’s title. I identify a band but refer to beer in general. That can tell you a lot about this blog. Now, on to the records…
5 Records for the Turntable
Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane of the Sea – This is an absolute classic that will hold down a spot on my overall top-5 every time. No other record is as good a discussion starter as Aeroplane. Aesthetically, it has some folky acoustic guitar, trumpet flourishes, love for our lord and savior Jesus Christ… Really, everyone should own this album.
A Tribe Called Quest The Low End Theory – You need dance music? Wanna kick it old school? Your only black friend is over for dinner? Drop the needle on this hip-hop classic and let the groove take over. Not only does your cred go up a notch for actually owning hip-hop record, but you own one of the most revered and highly decorated albums of all time.
Pavement Quarantine the Past – Put this one on for your kids and explain that this is what the nineties sounded like. Normally, I’d put a specific Pavement album (or possibly their entire catalog) on this list, but Quarantine the Past is a near-perfect compilation that spans the group’s run quite nicely. Now, you can expose your friends to Pavement without making them sit through every 7″ and reissue extra.
Slint Spiderland – At this point, my musical biases have gone over the top. Nearly all the nineties essentials are now covered with Spiderland joining the party. However, this album is diverse enough to handle both a dark mood and the end-of-the-evening comedown. That and like Aeroplane, this record offers plenty about which to talk. “Did you know that Will Oldham took the picture on the cover?” “Did you know that PJ Harvey answered the band’s call for a female singer in the liner notes?” “Did you know that there’s a children’s book created for the final track?” This record is a discussion-starter for sure.
Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion – Want to lighten the mood while simultaneously raising the discourse in the room? Put on Merriweather Post Pavilion, one of the most cerebral dance records of the last decadea. Plus, you can stare at the “moving” record sleeve all night long.
What are your five to always have on hand? Are my musical tastes too narrow? Leave a comment or three.
1Interestingly, for those who are not familiar, Tank 7 is part of the Smokestack Series, celebrating Boulevard’s famous smokestacks bearing their name. The original series came exclusively in tall, like smokestack-tall 750 mL bottles. So, the move to 12oz. bottles was awkward, but Boulevard pulled it off beautifully as they chose a taller, sleeker 12 oz. bottle.
2This is rhetorical. Of course one must always have a hopbomb in the fridge/cellar. I have been known to go buy an IPA or DIPA even though I have a cellar full of perfectly good beers simply for the purpose of insuring that I have at least one hoppy beer around. And those are the beers I consume the quickest, so it makes sense to always have some around. Don’t question the logic. Go out and buy an IPA right now.
3Two-Hearted is still a perfectly acceptable option here, but Modus is newish around these parts and it comes in cans.
4I like bourbon, oak/vanilla, and chocolate in my imperial stouts, but molasses brings it. This preference is possibly due to my dad’s practice of pouring brown sugar all over his Cheerios. Yes. You read that correctly. The best part was when you came to the end and had nothing left but creamy brown sugar.
5The 750 mL bombers run in the $30 range. So, ten bucks for 12 oz. of really, really good beer is sometimes justified.
6Dogfish Head has been taking it on the chin as of late. It’s most likely a backlash from the Brew Masters debacle/nondebacle. Let’s get this straight. Dogfish Head makes some of the best, if not most interesting beers in craft beer. Additionally, founder Sam Calagione has maybe done more for the growth in craft beer aside from anyone named Michael Jackson or Jim Koch.
7Seriously, I challenge you to find another better pairing. Do it. Until you’ve had this pairing, you won’t ever understand the food and beer pairing. This is the standard. See if you can exceed it.
8It does seem to me that I judge music based on degrees of Pavement. I’m OK with that.
9In fact, I know several people who own it but don’t appreciate it. I suggest for those who don’t get it (and this may very well go for any so-called classic record) that they should read the book in the 33 1/3 series to get the context. If you can’t appreciate Aeroplane after that, there’s nothing I can do for you.
10Oh, I know my demographic: middle-class white folk who can’t seem to rid themselves of white guilt. It’s okay. Embrace your racism. I’ve made peace with mine.
11Doing so would be a perfectly acceptable practice as well.
12I don’t like dance music. So, I’m sure you could name a better dance record. Still, this album would have to be in your top-10 of the last decade.