Hot Sauce and Lemonade!
BEER AND MUSIC GO TOGETHER LIKE HOT SAUCE AND LEMONADE.
This is a Beyoncé joke. Hot sauce was her bat. Swag.
The first thing I think of when I think of beer and music is Dogfish Head Brewery. Sam Calagione, Founder of Dogfish Head, and one of the great pioneers of Craft Beer in America, created a line of beers called the Music Series (in addition to their already giant line up of amazing brews). From their website, Sam says, “Music has been a part of Dogfish Head since before Dogfish Head.” Their latest beer in this series, brewed for Record Store Day (back in February), is called Beer To Drink Music To. This is a Belgian-style Tripel, brewed with sweet orange peel, green cardamom, peppercorns and vanilla. Whoa, nelly. It weighs in at 9% ABV, so be careful, and sip this one, but don’t forget to turn up that radio first.
I picked up aromas of banana, clove, and flavors of freshly baked banana bread, juicy citrus, herb with a dry finish. I think I blew it and was watching TV while drinking this, but if I had to chose an album to spin while drinking it, I would suggest Harry Nilsson- Nilsson Schmillson, one of the most perfect Pop albums of all time, in my opinion. This album is a genre-hopping tour de force (as I write this sentence, I’m belting out the chorus to “Without You”, famously covered by Mariah Carey on her 1993 album Music Box.), and I choose this album because, like a lot of Dogfish Head’s beers, they use such genre-hopping ingredients, I think it fits. Find this beer, drink it, and listen to Nilsson. Magic.
Other notable beers to check out in Dogfish Head’s Music Series, Bitches Brew, an imperial stout with honey and gesho root, brewed for the 40th anniversary (in 2010) of Miles Davis’ album of the same name, American Beauty, an IPA brewed with granola, whose ingredients were chosen by Grateful Dead fans, and is inspired by 30 years (in 2013) of touring and recording, and Positive Contact, “a 9% ABV hybrid of beer and cider brewed with Fuji apples, roasted farro, a handful of cayenne peppers and a late dose of fresh cilantro.” This was brewed in conjunction with Sam and Dan the Automator of Deltron 3030, which, in 2012, was released in a “Box Set” of 6 bottles with a Vinyl EP of remixes made specifically for this release.
Holly and I had a night of beer and music a few days ago, as well. Continuing our adventures here in this great, smelly-in-the-summer city, we were invited to an EP Release show, hosted by our dear friend Mason Maggio, as he released his newest EP, Merit Badge Season, under the Monicker Souveneer.
Mason is the lead singer of The Republic of Wolves, an indie rock band influenced by bands such as Brand New, and As Tall As Lions (both bands y’all should check out), and Tigers on Trains, a folk duo with Christian Van Deurs, who have put out some gorgeous, Paul Simon-esque albums with beautiful harmonies that are perfect for any time of year.
Since this is a blog about beer, I’ve had the idea to pair a beer to each of Mason’s bands. Let’s go!
For The Republic of Wolves, I would pair a Founders Brewing Company Dark Penance. This is a Black IPA, made with Crystal Malt and Midnight Wheat (which makes it black), and hopped with Chinook and Centennial hops. I chose this because this is a dark, brooding beer with bursts of beautiful crisp citrus and pine from the hops. The Republic of Wolves lyrics and music are darker and heavier than Mason’s other bands, but they’re peppered with moments of beautiful, clean guitars and gorgeous melodies.
For Tigers on Trains, I would pair Allagash Brewing Company White. As mentioned earlier, I could listen to these albums any time and they make me so happy. With Allagash White, a traditional belgian wheat, you always know it’s going to be a good time. Crisp, orange citrus is balanced out with beautiful honey sweetness and a little bit of spice. Refreshing no matter when, no matter where. I could hand this beer (or share these albums) with anyone, and I guarantee they’d find something they loved.
Holly and I started our evening at The Folly, our favorite Pirate-themed haunt, with our favorite bartender, Derek, on Houston Street.
Arrrgh! (Pirate growl)
Holly was already enjoying a glass of sparkling Rosé when I arrived, (which tasted DELICIOUS after coming out of the sun and was PINK), and I picked a Coney Island Brewing Mermaid Pilsner. As a craft beer drinker, I don’t pay enough attention to Pilsners. It’s very easy to get them wrong, because there’s nothing to hide behind. Pilsners are traditional German-style crisp lagers, with grassy, citrus hops and light, sweet malts. What an awesome beer for the summer. They’re low ABV, so you can have a few at a barbecue or on the beach and still be able to go out at night. This one didn’t disappoint (Coney Island makes some great brews. I miss their Seas The Day IPL, but that’s another story.), and was clean, bright, with some citrus and grassy notes, and a smooth, sweet finish. I can’t wait to head down to their new brewery space in Coney Island!
We walked east on Houston street towards the venue, The Cake Shop, on Ludlow Street. We stopped in for dinner at Sweet Chick, a Southern Inspired restaurant just a block or so away from the venue. Holly and I shared fried chicken biscuit sliders, with pickles and hot honey. We now want to put hot honey on everything, all the time. HOT. HONEY. GIT IT, GURL. We also got Mac & Cheese that was breaded with crumbled Ritz Crackers, which, in my humble opinion, can never be bad, and Mashed Potatoes and Gravy.
Oh right, this is a blog about beer.
Holly ordered Victory Brewing Company Donnybrook Stout, a dry Irish Stout, a low ABV, black as night stout, with flavors of coffee and bitter bakers’ chocolate.
Preparing for our trip to Ireland!
I ordered the Bronx Brewery Rye Pale Ale. These guys make such consistent beer, and this is no exception. The rye added a little spice, just right at the end of the sip, to the lemon peel citrus from the hops, balanced nicely with a malt sweetness. Another great beer for summer. Our friend Bryan joined us and ordered an amazing mango lemonade, which, while not beer, still tasted sweet, citrusy and refreshing. Summah, summah, summah, summahtime.
We arrived at the Cake Shop and gave hugs to Mason, and mingled and chit chatted as the first three bands played, all friends of Mason’s, and all very pleasant, folky, indie rock. But we were there for our son! (Actually, he’s Rich Maggio’s son. But we can pretend, can’t we?)
Thanks to Bryan for picking up our first round of drinks. Holly chose a Youngs Brewing Double Chocolate Stout. HK was on a stout kick tonight, and this is another winner, packing in a ton of chocolate flavor for such a low ABV stout. Milky, smooth, sweet, chocolate and coffee. If they’ll keep makin’ em, we’ll keep drinkin’ em.
I ordered a Peak Organic Fresh Cut Pilsner. I preferred the Mermaid Pilsner, but it could have something to do with the draft lines at this place. I’ll pick this up in a bottle and save my thoughts on it for another time.
Our friend Kevin joined us, and started with Narragansett Lager. He and Bryan moved on to Red Stripe (HOORAY BEER!).
We said hello to Mason’s (actual) parents, Rich and Debra, who brought what seemed like a horde of relatives, which is super supportive and awesome. There was a ton of love in that basement bar on Thursday night, and well deserved. Rich, the proud Dad that he is, showed off that he bought the first ever Souveneer tee shirt. Debra, the proud Mom (and Grandma!!) that she is, showed us pictures and videos of Amelia, Evan (Mason’s brother and one of my dearest friends) and Missy’s daughter.
I was wary of the draft lines after the Fresh Cut, so I ordered a can of Double Chocolate Stout as well, and began enjoying it just as Mason took the stage, for the first time playing songs as Souveneer. He sang and played guitar, and was accompanied a violinist and a bassist, who also played bass for one of the previous bands, Hotel of the Laughing Tree. It’s fun to watch friends doing what they love, and receiving so much love and energy from the crowd of family and friends. The highlight of the night for me was his cover of The Talking Heads- Road to Nowhere, slowed down and performed just by Mason and his guitar. Every one of Mason’s show’s I’ve been to, his parents have been there, singing along and encouraging others to join in on the fun, and this was no exception.
Souveneer- Empathy (Clip)
Souveneer- Road to Nowhere (Clip)
So, in one evening, I got to:
A. Have a date night with my wife
B. Spend time with my buddies Bryan and Kevin
C. See Mason doing what he loves and continuing to put out amazing music
D. See Christian and Billy, band members of The Republic of Wolves and Tigers on Trains, who I haven’t seen in a while
E. See Rich and Debra Maggio and see them gush over their sons
F. Share stories, beer, sing along, and experience Mason’s newest venture with friends and family
Not bad for a Thursday.
Until next time.