Beer Pairings: NHL Thanksgiving Showdown Edition Part 1: New York

One of my dream jobs has always been to DJ hockey games. And/or drive the Zamboni. While I am a Bruins fan, I’m always happy to watch them face off with the team my cable company thinks I should be a fan of: the New York Rangers. In honor of the game that will take place the day after Thanksgiving, I am going to do a hockey playlist pairing from New York and Boston bands with five beers from around those areas. A tall order, you might say. I agree, so as with any good list, there are a few stipulations.

  • While the craft brewing movement is growing quickly enough to have 5 breweries in each city,  I am going to branch out include areas outside of these two cities proper.
  • These are not only two major cities for music, but they are also two major cities that I love. So I am going to pair it down to records that I would want to hear at a hockey game but for whatever reason, never do. It is still a ton of stuff to pick from, but I’ll try to be realistic.
  • On that note, I’m leaving out stuff you already do hear at hockey games. Sorry, Kiss.
  • I’m also picking beers I’d want to drink at a hockey game. Lower ABV, if it comes in a can and can fit in one of my many coozies, great. As good they can be, I have found that drinking a 12% Russian Imperial Stout before/during a game is not always the best choice.
  • Since I prefer to save the best for last, I will start with the New York pairings.

Continue reading “Beer Pairings: NHL Thanksgiving Showdown Edition Part 1: New York”

Advertisements

REVIEW: Black Wail “Black Wail” [EP]/Brooklyn Defender

THE RECORD: Black Wail- Black Wail [EP]- 2014

Black Wail

I do not write about too many EPs on here because I feel that a handful of songs are not always enough to tell you about a band. Sometimes, however, brevity can be a good thing, because it leaves you curious and wanting more. This is the case with Black Wail’s self-titled EP. Formed earlier this year in Jersey City, Black Wail sounds like just about everything I played on my radio show in college rolled into one band. Even though there are only 3 songs, a sequence-nerd like me can still appreciate their order. “Fools” starts the show. It’s an ideal opener. The isolated drums get your boots stomping, and then the guitar riff comes in. And then it’s just… Rock. That’s what it is. “Fools” is the song you should listen to if you need to get from 0 to ROCK in the first 60 seconds. It’s your first beer of the night song.

Black Wail.jpg
Photo credit: Virginia Kamenitzer

The middle track, “Guillotine” won me over immediately; this one is really lead by the keys. The sound harkens back to those 70s Hammond organs that I love so much, but when it flows with the guitars and vocal harmonies, it’s a completely new animal.

Also, “Put your rivals head in the guillotine/make sure people see a horrible scene” is a great line. I want to see a video for that song.

“Dyed” is my favorite track, and I like that it is the last one. In my opinion, it is the most metal of the three tracks, but it doesn’t feel too hard or out of place. Like the way “Emerald” closes off Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak even though you heard “The Boys Are Back In Town” a few songs earlier. Because to me, it’s music for headbangers that can also be booty shakers. I am proud to be both of those things, and looking forward to more to come from Black Wail. The cover art reads “LET JERSEY PROSPER”. Jersey is prospering, alright, and Black Wail is making that fact crystal clear on these 3 songs. Now, please listen to them on Spotify so AFI’s Black Sails In The Sunset isn’t the first thing to come up with I type their name in.

THE BEER: Brooklyn Brewery- The Defender

DefenderBlog

The Defender is a “hoppy amber IPA” that was brewed for consumption during New York Comic Con. These are not your grandfather’s hops, however. The Mosaic hop arrived on the beer scene only about 2 years ago. It’s one of the first hops that I’ve noticed to have a trademark, although apparently this is something that is becoming more common with newer varietals. It’s the lovechild of Simcoe and Nugget, and whenever I hear that a beer has Mosaic hops, I usually fall in love too. The flavors I took from Defender are tropical, and not quite so overwhelmingly bitter as some IPAs can be. As a bartender, I really enjoyed selling this beer because I think it surprised a lot of people in a positive way. The red malts make it a little bit roasty, which still gives it a taste that is familiar to seasoned (not necessarily craft) beer drinkers. It’s a beer I can nerd out about, and it’s also a beer I could share with my grandfather, or anyone else who doesn’t really care that much about where the hops came from. PLUS it has an awesome label.

THE PAIRING:

I wanted to find a brewery from Jersey City to find a beer pairing with this one, but I don’t know any breweries in Jersey City proper. Please comment below if you know of any to suggest to me. So I chose the Defender from Brooklyn Brewery. It’s not THAT far away, and I almost always drink a Brooklyn offering when I am at my favorite JC watering hole, BARCADE. It’s a geographically based pairing. It also works on a more intellectual level. The EP is only three songs, but it’s enough to tell you what kind of band Black Wail is. For me, they are the kind of band I wish I could be in. Like the way Defender surprises people in a positive way, I think Black Wail would also surprise people. The ways they seem to draw from such a wide variety of influences is like looking through a great record collection. Defender brings the familiar red ale malts and mixes them with a fresh new hop varietal to make something uniquely delicious. Black Wail brings the sound of the classic metal and rock albums that myself and so many others grew up on, and reinvigorates that sound to new life.

REVIEW: Skeletonwitch “Serpents Unleashed”/Brooklyn Brewery Fire and Ice

THE RECORD: Skeletonwitch Serpents Unleashed Prosthetic Records 2013

https://i1.wp.com/metalinjection.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Skeletonwitch-Serpents-Unleashed.jpg

Skeletonwitch hasn’t needed to do much to become one of my favorite bands. Constantly touring and releasing new records, they’re always working hard and just seem to show up all the time with new stuff. Their latest album, Serpents Unleashed is out now on Prosthetic Records and continues their trend of putting out fantastic albums of thrash metal gold.

Serpents Unleashed is unrelenting from the beginning. They don’t start slow and elevate to a high level, they start off at the top from the beginning and don’t stop until the record is over. I think a lot of the energy on this one has to do with the aid of producer Kurt Ballou of Converge. The sound shows that he works really well with the band to maintain their sound and clean it up a bit. Polished? Maybe. Just so the guitar riffs are crystal clear to the ear though.

The guitar riffs are so amazing on this record. Check out “Blade On The Flesh, Blood On My Hands”, and “Burned From Bone”. So face-melting, and actually pretty catchy too. The mix is perfect in the way that it allows these to stand out.

I think that’s what’s awesome about Skeletonwitch. They put out great records that sound professional, but you know you can still see them and thrash the hell out at their live shows.

Okay, I guess it slows down a LITTLE on “More Cruel Than Weak”, the last track. It’s just so you can give your head a break from banging it though, and it brings you back to speed pretty quick.

I would be remiss not to name drop one more time- Baroness’ John Dyer Baizley, who did the stunning artwork for the cover. There aren’t really any bands that Baizley has done the art for that I don’t enjoy (that includes Flight Of The Conchords!). Serpents Unleashed is just another excellent piece from his portfolio.

The band itself doesn’t quit either. It seems like they are always touring, but the great thing about the ‘witch is that they mix it up with the bands they play with. I’ve seen them three times; with Kvelertak (ON A BOAT!), with Havok, and with Ghost. All those bands are pretty different from each other, but the crowd always loved them because they put on such a great show. I’m looking forward to catching them on tour in Spring 2014 with Amon Amarth!

THE BEER: Fire And Ice- Brooklyn Brewery- Brooklyn, NY

https://i1.wp.com/brooklynbrewery.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Fire-Ice-slide-640x360.png

The brewmaster’s reserve collection is hit or miss to me; I loved There Will Be Black, but Fiat Lux was just so so. Maybe they just need to give all their beers brutal, metal-sounding names and I’ll like them. Case in point, Fire and Ice. It’s a deliciously smoky porter. I often shoot for the sweeter side of the porter and stout spectrum, but sometimes a crisp, dry porter just hits the spot. Fire and Ice knocks it out of the park. Don’t be mislead by the style it says on the label of oatmeal porter. The ingredients do include rolled oats, but everything else, like the hop profile (Fuggle, Willamette, and East Kent Golding) makes this brew deliciously smoky with a touch of bitterness. At 7.2% ABV it’s right in the middle of the scale, which is nice to see in a sea of so many super-strong stouts and porters this time of year.

THE PAIRING:

I always feel inclined to pair metal albums with pretty dank beers. When you’re rocking out to an intense, heavy record, you need a beer of equal caliber to go along with it.


The description on the Brooklyn Brewery website sounds like it could fit in a Skeletonwitch song too:

When the world gives you darkness and Ice
We put a Fire into your glass and give you warmth and light

While the beer isn’t that accessible in stores and bars since it’s from the brewmaster’s reserve series, it’s super accessible, easy to drink, on the palate. Yes, it’s intense and big, but it’s surprisingly drinkable. Much like Skeletonwitch- their sound is in your face, but they are a blast to see live and so much fun to listen to.