Jul 1 2016

The Best Music of 2015 and, of Course, Their Beer Pairings (Belated to the Point of Pointlessness)

I wrote an absurd Music and Beer pairing post every year but, in my hiatus from blogging, I didn’t post a single one during the last two years. The moment has passed and I’m only posting this because I had done most of the work for the 2015 post last December, but I have not added the usual (lack of) polish and hyperlinkage.

So, like someone who publishes unfinished work as a reminder of the process and the celebration of warted early drafts, here is the sketch for 2015:

Here is the final list for 2015 that you don’t care about. I used to turn these yearly pairings into a blog post, but I’ve gotten to busy and unmotivated to maintain my brewing blog and the time it takes to post to that.

I don’t present these as the best albums from the year. (If so, Kendrick Lamar would have made the list. Maybe Courtney Barnett.) Just the albums that I enjoyed the most. And the beers didn’t need to be new to the world, just to me.

In alphabetical order:

Beach Slang - The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us

Beach Slang – The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us
And
Sierra Nevada & Brauhaus Riegele – Oktoberfest

– Maybe Beach Slang sounds a little too much like The Replacements, but how could that be a bad thing? In less than 30 minutes, they deliver an earnest dose of punk rock and roll, and memories of being young, too cool for the world and destructively bored.
Sierra Nevada and Riegele got together and made an amazing Oktoberfest that was bready, light in caramel and just damn easy to drink. It appears that Sierra Nevada will make this a seasonal collaboration with a different German brewery each year, and I’m looking forward to the future brews if this is any indication of the quality.

Bully - Feels Like

Bully – Feels Like
And
Devils Backbone – Hasselhoff

Bully is another throwback album that would have fit into my collection in the 1990s. In a list full of strong, female voices, Alicia Bognanno shows off a Kurt Cobain howl in this raw coming of age album.
– I was very lucky to have two of my beers brewed by local breweries and put on tap in 2015. Hasselhoff was a pro-am beer that I did with Devils Backbone. My original homebrew was a Bohemian pilsner that slid into German pils territory, so it wasn’t surprising when the DB version started as a German pils that slid into Bohemian pilsner territory. Light, dry and refreshing, this beer was as easy to drink and it was to make with Jason Oliver and the amazing Devils Backbone crew.

EL VY - Return to the Moon

EL VY – Return to the Moon
And
Wicked Weed – Montmaretto (Barrel-aged sour with Montmorency Cherries and Almonds)

– I don’t honestly know if EL VY is a coherent album. In a way, I was so hungry for a new The National disc that Matt Berninger’s voice over the sound of children banging on pots and pans would have been welcomed. EL VY is successful in adding musical variety to Matt’s word salad and I’m curious to see if this collaboration continues in the future.
– I tried this version of the Wicked Weed Montmaretto in Denver, and I was impressed with the sourness that played under the cherries and almonds. I expected the almonds to mimic some of the Belgian krieks I’ve enjoyed since those brewers leave some of the pits in the cherries to impart a light nuttiness. But these almonds conveyed a touch of Amaretto that I found interesting and refreshing.

Grimes - Art Angels

Grimes – Art Angels
And
Ballast Point – Grapefruit Sculpin

Grimes was a surprise entry into this list, but it hooked me quickly. Is this a logical evolution of K-pop, or the rare album with top 40 potential but bigger ideas? Maybe both, but Boucher knocked this out of the park.
– Ballast Point was sold for 1 billion, with a “B”, dollars last year. I don’t know if that was a great business deal for purchaser, but their Grapefruit Sculpin is a great tightrope walk between bitterness, hop aroma and pithy fruit.

Hop Along - Painted Shut

Hop Along – Painted Shut
And
Russian River – Ron Mexico

– That. Voice. Frances Quinlan’s transitions between girlish whispers to hoarse screams are everything in this album from Hop Along. Her words sounded rubbed raw and I hung on every line.

– HBC 438 was unusual new hop in that it was offered to homebrewers before commercial brewers. Russian River was allowed to play with this neomexicanus hop in their Ron Mexico beer given out at the National Homebrew Conference in 2015, and it had a smooth tropical fruit quality that stood out amongst the raw hop throat scrapers in southern California.

Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material

Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material
And
Creature Comforts – Tropicália

– If every female country music singer isn’t taking notes from Kacey Musgraves right now, they are fools. Approachable, personal, playful and relaxed, this album doesn’t work in less skillful hands. Pageant Material is built to be sung on back roads in effortless harmonies with well-worn friends, and we all need more of that.
– I was lucky enough to get some Creature Comforts beer muled up to me by my nephew who goes to UGA. Athena was a nicely kettle-soured Berliner with yogurt notes, but it was the Tropicalia IPA that stood out. Juicy, and crushable, while leaning more towards orange than grapefruit. Seek out these cans if you want to try one of the premier IPAs on the east coast.

Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
And
Firestone Walker – Feral One (Batch 1)

– This return by the Sleater-Kinney ladies made this list before the end of January. Likely their most approachable album, but no less challenging or pointed. This wasn’t the mature masterpiece of 2005’s The Woods, but it was amazing to hear new music from them for the first time in 10 years, but it wasn’t surprising that they hadn’t lost a step.
– I had unreasonable expectations for Firestone Walker’s Feral One and they were easily met. This blend of four barrel-aged beers was big with bright citrus and juicy fruits. The high carbonation helped push forward the  noticeable barrel character. I only wish I had a dozen bottles enjoy and watch evolved. 

Tame Impala – Currents

Tame Impala – Currents
And
Three Notch’d Brewing – Brettadocious

– I love Tame Impala and Kevin Parker’s insane drive for perfection, but their latest almost didn’t make the list. Despite being an inconsistent album, it had some truly great tracks, and I respect Tame Impala’s ability to make psychedelic R&B, whatever that means, work.
Brettadocious was the second beer I had go on tap last year and it was with Three Notch’d Brewing. We brewed it in 2014 and it aged in two Pollack Vineyard wine barrels for a year with a dozen brettanomyces strains before blending them back together. The final beer was dry, funky and full of the complex notes that came from the wine barrels. One barrel was packaged straight up, and the other will hopefully be ready in 2016 after aging on pedio and tart cherry purée.

Thee Oh Sees - Mutilator Defeated at Last

Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated at Last
And
The Rare Barrel – Ensorcelled

– Despite breaking up or changing their line-up, Thee Oh Sees seem to make my list every year and I won’t make excuses for my homerism. They are my favorite, and most consistent, garage band, and they have perfected a formula of strange, fast and spacey rock with fuzzy psychedelics.
Ensorcelled is an inspired blending of a sour, red beer and a black, Brettanomyces beer and aging that blend on raspberries. The raspberries were bright in this beautiful beer and they sat nicely on top of funky leather and dark fruit sweetness. The Rare Barrel is becoming infallible.

Wilco – Star Wars

Wilco – Star Wars
And
Rothaus – Pils Tannenzäpfle

– It was nice to have a Wilco album released that meant something. I had difficulty listening to their previous three albums more than once or twice. I don’t know what happened to Tweedy, whether he was in a good place or sober, or whatever it was that took away his edge, but Star Wars felt alive and interesting. And it was the right amount of sloppy and passionate. I’m happy that his jaw isn’t broken and his bandage isn’t wrapped too tight. The world has less need for a fangless Tweedy.

– The Rothaus pils was a surprise to me and lagers often are. (This is my problem, but I’m working through that as most craft-loving Americans slowly do.) I tried this one at the local Kardinal Hall and could see myself easily sitting down to more than a few pints of this smooth, lager of light malt, grass and cereal.

 

Previous “The Best Music of XXXX and, of Course, Their Beer Pairings” posts:

2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

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