Musical Beers

Musical Beers

“A barrel of malt, a bushel of hops, you stir it around with a stick,” Flogging Molly sings in the aptly-titled song “Beer Beer Beer.” This song serves as just one small part of a long relationship between music and beer. Lately this relationship has blossomed into bands having their own beers created and distributed by regional or national breweries. In this ever-growing trend, here’s a list of some of the more popular partnerships.

Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Dogfish Head

Bitches Brew

Originally released in 2010, this limited edition brew was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of its namesake, the iconic 1970 fusion breakthrough. This American Double/Imperial Stout boasts an ABV of 9.0%, and 38 IBUs. Dogfish describes it as “a bold, dark beer that’s a fusion of three threads of imperial stout and one thread of honey beer with gesho root.” Founder Sam Calagione admits that he listened to this album while writing the Dogfish Head business plan, and was influenced by the jazz fusion to run his business slightly differently than the rest.

Pearl Jam Faithfull Ale, Dogfish Head

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A Belgian-style golden ale clocking in at 7.0% ABV and only 20 IBUs, this 2011 special release was to celebrate Pearl Jam’s 20th anniversary as a band. Its flavor is relatively fruit-forward thanks to incremental additions of black currants in a long boil. Much like “Bitches Brew,” Faithfull Ale serves as an homage to one of Sam Calagione’s favorite albums. “To me, [their first album] ‘Ten’ is the perfect example of a record-lover’s-record. The whole thing rocks,” Calagione wrote on Dogfish’s website. As a strong added bonus, Dogfish Head donated $20,000 to The Nature Conservancy in conjunction with Faithfull Ale, inspired by Pearl Jam’s ethics, and the desire to put music before commerce.

The Clash, Upright Brewing

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A brother beer to an officially untitled dark lager, this brew is a strong pilsner with an ABV of 6.7%. Using a Munich lager yeast and Canadian pilsner malt, it boasts a soft and satisfying finish. As their website describes, “This beer shows some balance early on and matures into a very dry and snappy profile over several months.” The untitled dedication to the iconic punk rockers was originally released in 2010.

FOAM Pilsner, Sierra Nevada

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This German style Pilsner was brewed specifically for the Phish Festival 8 in 2009. As the press release points out, “A lot of us here at the brewery are Phish-heads, including several of our master brewers.” They aimed for a lighter style of beer with a lot of character, and the final product was a light-bodied concoction brewed with European and American hops balanced with a spicy hop kick. Boasting a moderate 5.6% ABV, this light and refreshing classic will be enjoyed by Phish-heads and beer fans alike.

Trooper Ale, Robinsons Brewery

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Named after the Iron Maiden song, Trooper Ale is the brainchild of the band’s vocalist, Bruce Dickinson, who is an avid fan of ales. Listed as a “Premium British Beer,” Trooper’s ABV sits at 4.7%, slightly lower than the rest on this list. It is brewed with Bobec, Goldings, and Cascasde hops, and touts a “subtle hint of lemon,” as we mentioned on a previous episode of Beer Busters. While most beers listed here were limited releases, Dickinson noted in a promotional video that there could be a long-term relationship between the band the brewery. The beer coincided with the 175th anniversary of Robinsons in 2013, and is now available internationally.

Mmmhops, Hanson Brothers Beer Company

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“From the guys that invented Mmmbop.” Yes, it’s that Hanson. The trio of brothers responsible for everyone’s guilty pleasure 90s song has created their own beer. With an ABV of 7.5%, this pale ale has a “unique toasted malt signature and a refreshing hoppy finish.” Even better, 10% of the proceeds go to support drilling clean water wells in Africa through the non-profit organization Take The Walk. As the band will tell you, “Beer + Music = Awesome”. Mmmhops was released in 2013.

AC/DC Premium Lager, Karlsberg Brauerei (Brewery)

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Debuted in 2013, the name of this beer also serves the purpose of describing it. With a “mouthwatering” 5.0% ABV, this lager is available in 568mL cans and follows the much-appreciated German Purity Law. Available mostly overseas, it was recently approved for sales in the US and should be hitting shelves in the near future.

Ultimate Box Set, The Lost Abbey

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Starting in January, 2012, Lost Abbey out of California released a limited edition “Box Set” featuring a new “track” every month, all inspired by classic rock anthems dealing with Heaven or Hell. Purchases of a limited edition collection were only available to winners of a lottery drawing, who then had the chance to pay $450 for a complete set. Only 1,000 bottles of each individual beer were released, 350 of which were sold in Lost Abbey’s tasting room and the rest were saved for the collector’s sets. According to Tomme Arthur, director of brewery operations, “This is the most ambitious project we’ve ever undertaken.” The Lost Abbey Ultimate Box Set was named Bev Star’s Most Innovative Packaging at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012.

Check out a slideshow of all the labels and descriptions of each beer below.

  • Track #1: Van Halen, “Running with the Devil” - brown ale base aged for 10 months in French red wine barrels; 7.5%
  • Track #2: Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” - a mix of sour cherry and peach flavors with virtually no carbonation; 12.5%
  • Track #3: AC/DC, “Hell’s Bells” - a mix of Lost Abbey’s Mellow Yellow and Duck Duck Gooze, aged in red wine barrels, adding up to a reportedly citrusy heaven; 7.55%
  • Track #4: The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil” - based off their lager, Hot Rocks, and aged in red wine barrels for two years and mixed with dark strong ale and cherries; 11.33%
  • Track #5: Mötley Crüe, “Shout at the Devil” - a fruity blend of the brewery’s Red Poppy and Framboise de Amorosa; 7.7%
  • Track #6: AC/DC, “Highway to Hell” - a heavy mix of Serpent’s Stout aged in brandy barrels, and bourbon barrel-aged Angel’s share; 14.3%
  • Track #7: INXS, “The Devil Inside” - a sour beer made with raspberries and cherries and a hint of orange zest; 8.5%
  • Track #8: Iron Maiden, “Number of the Beast” - the brewery’s dark strong ale Judgment Day rested in bourbon barrels and adding cinnamon sticks and dried chiles; 13.7%
  • Track #9: Bob Dylan, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” - stemming from a few barrels of a beer not ready for its launch, these barrels aged another year and had currants added, resulting in a smooth taste and fruity sour; 9.7%
  • Track #10: Meatloaf, “Bat Out of Hell” - their imperial Serpent’s Stout aged in bourbon barrels, mixed with Ryan Brothers Coffee and cacao nibs; 13.5%
  • Track #11: Carlie Daniels Band, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” - their Angel’s Share ale aged in bourbon barrels for 9 months, with peaches and whole leaf black tea; 12%
  • Track #12: Black Sabbath, “Heaven and Hell” - a mix of Lost Abbey’s sour brown ale and Gift of the Magi golden ale, aged in oak barrels; 8.69%
  • Track #13 (bonus track): The Police, “Message in a Bottle” - a barleywine aged in cognac barrels with sour cherries and orange zest; 13.85%

Rosabi, Dogfish Head

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As this list comes full circle, Dogfish Head announced recently the next in its lineup of musical collaborative beers, Rosabi. To help commemorate the completion of its 18-month expansion, the Delaware-based brewery invited Julianna Barwick to perform in their 200-barrel brewhouse. Rosabi is described on Dogfish Head’s website as “a well-hopped Imperial Pale Ale,” which will be limited to 1,000 cases that will include a 10” record of original songs Julianna composed using sounds from the expanded Dogfish brewery. The brew uses Munich and Caramel malts with Centennial and Simcoe hops, and gets slightly more bitter and hot with the addition of wassabi. Rosabi sits at about 8% ABV, and will be available June 1, 2014 for the suggested price of $9.99 per bottle.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons, Sascha Wenninger

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