Relix 44: The Musical Beer Boom
Welcome to the Relix 44. To commemorate the past 44 years of our existence, we’ve created a list of people, places and things that inspire us today, appearing in our September 2018 issue and rolling out on Relix.com throughout this fall. See all the articles posted so far here.
Drink It Up: The Musical Beer Boom
Does anything pair better with live music than a cold beer? As the craft beer industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds, musicians are starting to get in on the fun, teaming up with brewmasters to create their own signature IPAs, ales and lagers.
For a lifelong home brewer like Kyle Hollingsworth of The String Cheese Incident, music was an avenue into beer world. The keyboardist regularly hosts events like Hoppy Holidays, Kyle’s Brew Fest and Hulaween’s Craft Beer Corner, bringing his two passions together in harmony. So far, Hollingsworth has amplified his status as a legitimate beer aficionado put his name on Boulder Beer’s Hoopla Pale Ale, Stone Brewing’s Collective Distortion IPA (brewed alongside Alice Cooper guitarist Kerri Kelli), Cigar City’s Happening Now Session IPA and more.
According to Telluride Brewing Company’s chief brewing officer and co-founder Chris Fish, the experience is beneficial for the breweries as well. Telluride’s recent collaboration with Greensky Bluegrass—the Greensky American Lager—quickly became one of their most sought-after beers.
“We released it just before Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and it has been hard to keep up with the demand ever since,” Fish says. In fact, fans were so excited to get their hands of the Greensky American Lager that the brewery had to start enacting “buy limits,” so the beer could be available to the masses.
Fish says Telluride and Greensky Bluegrass were a natural fit, and he cites live music as one of the “founding passions” of the Telluride Brewing Company. The collaboration process was fun and friendly, with the band opting to create a beer they themselves would drink on tour. “With all the time they spend on the road, they were looking for something more sessionable, specifically [something like] PBR,” Fish laughs, later joking that they scrapped the beer’s original name— Greensky Blue Ribbon—for legal reasons.
As Fish sees it, it’s a wonderful thing when musicians and brewers get together. After all, “to celebrate the finer things in life, beer is required.”
Below, enjoy a flight that bridges the gap between music and beer:
Greensky American Lager
by Telluride Brewing Company
According to the fine folks at Telluride Brewing, this “pure sessionable lager” has “a delicious Mosaic hop backbone” and it is designed for sippin’ on summer tour. Both Telluride Brewing and Greensky Bluegrass have roots in Colorado, so it goes without saying that this limited brew is only available within the confines of The Centennial State.
Brotherhood Steam Beer
by Anchor Brewing
San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing celebrated Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s 2014 record Phospherescent Harvest by giving the band a signature beverage. The copper-colored Brotherhood Steam is a malty “Extra Special Lager,” featuring artwork by fellow San Francisco local Alan Forbes. In Anchor’s eyes, the Brotherhood Steam is a “Golden State Collaboration of handcrafted California tunes and handcrafted California brews.”
Ground Score IPA
by Sweetwater Brewery
You’re probably already familiar with the story of Ground Score—the origins of our collaboration with Kyle Hollingsworth and Sweetwater Brewing have been detailed within the pages of this very magazine. Bold and hazy (with 7.1% alcohol) its hops were hand chosen with the help of the family-owned Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn, Ore.
Nothing Too Fancy Pale Ale
by Boulder Beer Company
In 2015, Rock Brothers Brewing, Cigar City Brewing and Boulder Beer Company came together to create the Nothing Too Fancy Pale Ale, a year-round liquid ode to prog-jammers Umphrey’s McGee. Living up to its name, Nothing Too Fancy is fresh flavored, easy to drink and best served alongside a high-quality UM soundboard recording.
Cash or Trade Double IPA
by Fiddlehead Brewing Company
Cash or Trade—the innovative “embrace the face” ticketing site—and Vermont’s Fiddlehead Brewing Company created this American Double/Imperial IPA for jam fans and beer fans alike. When it was released in June, Fiddlehead celebrated by throwing a party and inviting local Northeastern acts like Mad Mountain Scramblers and Formula 5 to perform at the brewery. It might be tough to find this beer for now, but the brewery recently teased a 2019 re-release.
by Dogfish Head
When Dogfish Head asked Deadheads to help craft a signature beer for their favorite band, the brewery received over 1,500 recipe ideas. In the end, organic granola became the secret ingredient in Dogfish Head’s American Beauty. According to the brewery, granola “was the main course in millions of parking lot meals,” and its toasty flavor complements the “all-American hops and barley” used within this heady brew.
Reality Based Pils
Signature beers aren’t exclusive to the jamband set, and they aren’t exclusive to American breweries either. The National and Danish microbrewery Mikkeller concocted the Reality Based Pils in 2018 at the behest of Mikkeller CEO/ diehard fan Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. The name of the 5% ABV pilsner comes from the band’s track “Walk it Back,” and its artwork nods to both The National’s Sleep Well Beast and brewery mascots Henry & Sally.
Hoppy Hour Hero Moe.saic IPA
by Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
moe. have long been fans of Saranac. Over the past decade, the band has performed at their Utica, N.Y. brewery over a dozen times, and the Hoppy Hour Hero Moe.saic IPA solidified their union for years to come. The brewery describes the band’s namesake brew as a “liquid jam-session,” and much like moe. this beer is impressively versatile. Apparently, it pairs well with everything from “carrot cake” to “sharp american cheese.”
Half Yuszch Pilsner
by Highland Brewing
Nathaniel Rateliff has joined the ranks of musicians-turned-brewers with Highland’s Half Yuszch Pilsner. This light offering is a Czech-style pilsner, and it was inspired by the band’s “Yuszch” (or usual) tradition of following a shot of liquor with a beer. This brew is also a bit of a rarity, as it was mostly available during a few stops on Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ summer tour.
by Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada created the Foam Pilsner in 2009 for Phish’s Festival 8 in Indio, Calif. Amazingly, the following year, this refreshing 5.5% brew won gold at the World Beer Cup for best German-style pilsner. Since then, the Foam Pilsner has appeared at Phish festivals and multi-night runs coast-to-coast, including the Baker’s Dozen in Madison Square Garden.
This article originally appears in the September 2018 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.