Review: Rush “Clockwork Angels”/Dogfish Head Urkontinent

THE RECORD:

Rush- Clockwork Angels- 2012 Roadrunner Records

DISCLAIMER: So I’m a Rush fan. There are a lot of people who disagree with me, unfortunately. But I’m not going to use this post to defend my love of Geddy, Alex, and Neil. I’m just going to review their new record, Clockwork Angels. If you’re not into it, just skip ahead to the beer review this week.

Anyway. Clockwork Angels is the band’s first release since 2007’s Snakes And Arrows. I’ve always appreciated that sometimes Rush has taken a few years in between albums, while still remaining prolific. This latest release is their nineteenth full-length studio album. The band has stated in interviews that Clockwork Angels is a concept record about a journey. It’s sort of a broad concept, which unifies all the songs while still allowing room for them to stand up individually. That is another cool thing about this album. While it definitely has plenty of Rush’s lengthy, signature epics such as “Clockwork Angels” and “Headlong Flight”, it has shorter radio-friendly tracks as well. And regardless of length, all the songs have an interesting hook to them that grabs you and pulls you in.

First track “Caravan” may be familiar to some, as it was released in 2010 as a single. It’s a great way to kick off this record, especially following the theme of a journey. Hopping on a caravan with Rush sounds like the perfect road trip to me. “BUB2” was also released and featured in the setlists from the band’s 2010-2011 “Time Machine” tour.

“Seven Cities Of Gold” is another great track. It kicks off with this awesome, funky bassline that hangs on as a hook throughout the whole song. It’s also another song that more obviously ties in to the concept of a worldly journey with lyrics like “Seven Cities of Gold/Stories that fired my imagination/Seven Cities of Gold/A splendid mirage in this desolation”. Rush lyrics are always interesting- they can range from the totally ridiculous to the anthems that everyone can relate to. Their best albums have songs with both, and Clockwork Angels can certainly be counted among those ranks.

THE BREW:

Urkontinent Belgian-style Dubbel

Dogfish Head Brewer- Milton, DE

I stumbled upon Urkontinent while visiting the Dogfish Head brewery earlier this summer. They do list it as an “occasional rarity” released in limited batches, so don’t expect to find it at your local neighborhood liquor store on the regular. Urkontinent pours deep, rich and dark with a light milk-chocolatey head that fades quickly. Classified as a Belgian-style dubbel, Urkontinent takes ingredients from around the world. Wattleseed, toasted amaranth, rooibos tea, myrica gale, and honey. Each ingredient gives a different flavor. Lots of chocolate and hazelnut notes, which I would expect are from the wattleseed, as well as some floral and fruity flavors. However, this beer is not all sweetness- the finish is quite dry. There is so much going on with this beer, but all of the flavors are well balanced without anything being too overpowering. The 8% ABV gives it a little heaviness, but the depth of this beer needs that.

THE PAIRING:

I was finishing up some of this beer while watching the Rush documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage, which is a great film for anyone who likes Rush even a little. Dogfish Head calls this beer a “social collaboration of worldwide porportions”. What better beer to pair with a concept record about a world wide journey! The ingredients are a sampling of the continents- Australia (wattleseed), North and South America (California honey and amaranth), Africa (rooibos), and Europe (myrica gale). Are they traveling to these continents on Clockwork Angels? One can only guess, but if they needed a beer to drink on this journey, this would be a great one. Rush has always been a band that has not been afraid to experiment and go in different directions that might seem weird to some people.I find that Dogfish Head does this with a lot of their beers, and it’s especially found in Urkontinent. Their slogan is “Off Centered Beers For Off Centered People”. I’m pretty certain that most Rush fans are fairly off centered people, at least I know I am.

Bonus Food Pairing! I also had this beer as part of a beer dinner. We paired it with 5 spice “Carne Asada” over Brussels sprouts, Oriental sweet potatoes, and Maple brown ale reduction. DELICIOUS. This big beer held up to the steak and all the flavors of the food worked well with the different flavors of this beer.

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