Music and beerage have been inextricably drinked since time immemorial, yet kiss didn’t come up with an ale till 2012 BC. Or was it BP? Either way, they were beaten to the punch by numerous artistes who linked up with brewers for their own-brand beer. The latest off the bandwagon, this March, are Elbow, whose 4.2% Charge pale ale is brewed by Marston’s of Burton-Upon-Trent and is their second set of suds. The first was the 4% Build A Rocket Boys bitter (named after that album), brewed locally in July 2011 by Stockport’s Robinson’s brewery. It’s a golden ale with malty, fruity aroma, while Charge mixes three malts for a biscuity, fruity flavour. It emerged from a tasting session by Elbow and is named after one of their new songs. To promote it, and their new LP, the band staged pub playbacks, and barfly Guy Garvey noted, “we’ve created a craft beer with a spicy American feel but with the class of a traditional British real ale”. And he looks like a man who’d know.
At the same time, Status Quo pitched in with their own album-inspired malty, hoppy, amber Piledriver 4.3% ale, which RC tasted care of Wychwood Brewery, Oxfordshire. Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi were involved in the tasting–with four ales considered–as well as the launch, held eight months later in London. As Francis told RC, “We had a lovely day at the brewery, from what I can remember. They came to us with the idea of a beer, and we couldn’t refuse.” Though most bands’ beers don’t have great investment value, some are limited-runs of a few hundred bottles and/or accompanied by spin-off merchandise, in the case of Quo’s Piledriver, T-shirts, beer mats and cardboard standees.
Other beer-friendly bands include Reverend & The Makers, whose malty, fruity 4.8% Summer Ale made its debut at Bearded Theory in May 2013. It was devised by Thornbridge Brewery of Bakewell by home-brewer/guitarist Ed Cosens, who’d worked part-time in a Thornbridge pub. He approached the brewer for a signature coldy and engaged in tastings for a light, golden, hoppy ale. Their second, a 5% American Brown Ale, was launched with a DJ set at London’s Old Truman Brewery this February to coincide with a UK tour.
Also imminent is Maximo Park’s 5% amber ale, Maximo No 5, produced by local Newcastle Mordue Brewery to highlight their new Too Much Information in February. It’s on sale during their March UK tour, while, concurrently, Super Furry Animals–who never do anything by halves-struck out with their own DJ launch set to herald their 8.5% aptly-named Fuzzy ale.
Ed Harcourt has thrown in his lot with the Signature Brewery of Hackney, London, in time for a tour this May, the brewers producing a 6.8% Dark Heart Edwardian-style brown ale, with a brooding, smoky, oaky flavour, utilising four malts. Also produced by Signature, The Rifles’ 3.9% The General (after the song) was unveiled in June 2012. That lager sold out and could be a future collectable. Still available is Professor Green’s 4.5% Remedy pale ale and Frank Turner’s Believe 4.8% wheat beer, devised in October 2012 with a larger than usual percentage of malts. As Frank reflected, “I learned a lot, got hammered, and ended up with a beer!” In May 2013, Enter Shikari’s sharp, aromatic Sssnakepit 5% lager was unveiled by Signature, heavy with citrus/grapefruit notes. Finally, Mastodon’s Signature special brew of November 2013 is an 8.3% Black Tongue Double Black Indian Pale Ale. Two malts and two hops combine to create a smoky, punchy “palate crusher”. Mind you, they had form in the shape of a self-titled 5.2% hazy, unfiltered lager, from Mahrs Brau of Bamberg, Germany, produced in July 2009 to the rheinheitsgebot (German Purity Law of 1516). It boasts citrus, honey and malt-bread notes, and the band were presented with 200 bottles at Sonisphere that year and consumed the lot before playing! The brauhaus that October also produced Sepultura’s 25th Anniversary 5% Weizen (wheat) beer, with a nose of bananas and cloves.
Other rockin’ brews include AC/DC’s sweet, maizey-flavoured 5% Australian Hardrock Premium Pils, debuted mid-2012 care of karlsberg Brewery in Germany, while Motorhead entered the beer market at that juncture with 4.7% Bastards lager (after the 1993 album), brewed by kronleins Bryggeri, Sweden. Kiss offered their own 4.7% LP-inspired Destroyer lager, brewed in Sweden early in 2011, while Suntory of Japan marked the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones in June 2012 with a Stones Bar Rolling Hop 4% beer, with crisp citrus flavour, bitter aftertaste and greater than usual carbonation. Madness’ golden Gladness 4.2% pilsner, concocted by Essex’s Growler Brewery, appeared in summer 2013.
Across the pond, a herbal, spicy 5.6% Foam pilsener was created in May 2009 for Phish by California brewer, Sierra Nevada, and the band added a Hop Stash 6% Indian Pale Ale in June 2011, care of Ithaca Brewery, New York. Kid Rock used his local Michigan Brewing Company for a Bad Ass 4.2% lager in September 2010, and flagged it with promo shirts. At the same time, Upright Brewing of Portland, Oregon, unveiled a hoppy 6.7% pilsener Beer for The Clash, followed in November 2012 by a strong, dark 6.4% Bad Brains Untitled lager, promoted by a T-shirt. The North Coast Brewing Company of Fort Bragg, California, rolled out the Brother Thelonius 9.4% Belgian-style Abbey Ale in March 2013, commemorating Thelonius Monk with a spicy, mahogany-coloured tipple, tasting of nuts, raisins, bananas and apples.
Meantime, in June 2010, Dogfish Head Brewery of Rehoboth, Milton, Delaware, USA, marked the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew with a 9% dark ale fusing three stouts and a honey beer with gesho root. May 2011 saw the centenary of the birth of Robert Johnson marked by 10% Hellhound On My Ale, its citrusy hops complemented by dried lemon peel. That October, Pearl Jam celebrated the 20th anniversary of their Ten with a golden 7% Belgian-style ale, with hints of blackcurrant. Two years later, the American Beauty 9% Indian Pale Ale was manufactured for Grateful Dead, 1,500 fans’ recipe suggestions leading to a sweet, toasty product high on organic granola.
In September 2011, Clutch’s 9% Dark Sour Ale poured forth from New Belgium Brewery, Fort Collins, Colorado. Made with 80% stout and 20% dark sour wood beer, it boasts a chocolatey flavour and was unveiled at a show in Washington DC’s Red Palace. Coinciding with a US tour in March 2013, Municipal Waste premiered their creamy, fruity Toxic Revolution 8.5% stout, with notes of chocolate, from Three Floyds Brewery, Munster, Indiana. It was responsible in August 2011 for a limited-run of Amon Amarth’s citrusy, hoppy 8.2% Ragnorak porter, produced with local honey, bottles of which now fetch over $60. Another limited-run followed in March 2012, Pig Destroyer’s golden 10.5% Permanent Funeral Indian Pale Ale, with a citrusy, sweet malty flavour. In January 2013, the Burnt Hickory Brewery, kennesaw, Georgia, delivered a black, malty 9% Imperial Porter for Corrosion Of Conformity, having sat in aged rum-barrels.
Finally, the most popular band beer to date is Iron Maiden’s golden Trooper 4.7% cask ale, launched in May 2013 by Robinson’s with pre-orders of over 300,000 pints. Selected by Bruce Dickinson for its spiciness and hint of citrus, demand was such that Robinson’s had to brew three times a day, six days a week for the first time in its 175-year history, with over 3.5 million pints exported to 180-plus countries by this March. Bruce was presented with a custom-engraved Brewery hand pump, celebrating Trooper as the brewery’s fastest-selling new beer. Clearly, rockers’ appetite for band beers remains undiminished. Rock brews will never die!