Dinosaur Jr. “I Bet On Sky”/Quenk Brewing Co. YYZ ESB

THE RECORD:

Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky- Jagjaguwar 2012

With 10 records now under their belt, Dinosaur Jr. continues to put out great stuff. Their newest album, I Bet On Sky, does not fail to impress. Starting off with “Don’t Pretend You Don’t Know”, it’s clear that Dinosaur Jr. is still proving that there is more to their music than noise and distortion. The first track experiments with different orchestration- bringing in an underlying synthesizer line and a little piano riff towards the end.

“Almost Fare” has a pretty upbeat, light melody that contrasts nicely with the heavily distorted guitar moving through the song. That is pretty much the sound of this record. In general, I Bet On Sky is surprisingly clean in comparison to their other releases, but the distorted guitar is still there moving through and carrying on consistently throughout all the tracks.

The faster-paced “Rude” brings Lou Barlow up to lead vocals. The change in voice adds something different to the character of the song and mixes things up a bit in a good way.

It gets a little darker on a few tracks, such as “Watch The Corners”, which has a chugging guitar riff underlying throughout the song that gives it an almost metal sound (of course I would make comparisons to metal in a Dinosaur Jr. record). I like that this record goes back and forth between upbeat stuff and more down, melancholy stuff in a very seamless way.

I Bet On Sky is just a really well-done record. It’s polished, but not overly so that it takes away from the rawness that has become synonymous with the sound of the band.

THE BREW:

YYZ ESB- Quenk Brewing Co.- New Haven, CT

This is my own beer! It was ready to drink as of this week and I’m very pleased with how it came out. We called it the “YYZ ESB” to cash in on more Rush nerdiness. Also it was ready to drink as of the Rush concert last week. It is a homebrew, and pours a thick, opaque, unfiltered wheat color. Maybe the head is a little thicker than I’d like, but it doesn’t linger that long and definitely isn’t unpleasant. The initial taste is crisp and citrusy, while it finishes with the hoppiness of an IPA. While it has a lot of flavor, the YYZ ESB isn’t heavy at all and has a really drinkable quality to it.

THE PAIRING:

I like to think that Dinosaur Jr. maintains a certain familiar vibe over the years. One of my favorite books, Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad, covers the band during the late 80s and early 90s. I think they still hold on everything that being an indie rock band should be- from the fact that they continue to release their records on independent record labels to the shows that they play. I saw them at Milford, CT’s Daniel Street Club a few years ago, and it was really great to have a fairly intimate show with a band that has been around for so long. So for this pairing, I didn’t want to just have a craft beer, I wanted to go as local as my own kitchen. Even though Dinosaur Jr. travels everywhere, they still give off that feeling of being a local band, at least to me.

Advertisements

Homebrew Chronicles: Courage Director’s Bitter Clone

In addition to being a lover of music and consuming beer, I have also started homebrewing this year. It has been incredibly rewarding so far, so I am hoping my next batch comes out good as well.

My brother and I brew in our kitchen under the name Quenk Brewing Company. Right now we have only worked with extract kits, but eventually would like to move on to partial-mash and ultimately all-grain brewing.

After our previous batch, a maple brown ale, we decided to go for something not quite as sweet. A pale ale, or something similar. After a quick (well, maybe like an hour) stop at our local brewing supply shop, Maltose Express, we came home with supplies to make a clone of Courage Director’s Bitter. I’ve actually never even heard of this beer, so unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to try it. However, it seems to be exactly what we were looking for- low ABV but a lot of flavor, not much sweetness.

We used mostly British Crystal malt, as well as black malt. For hops, we used German Hallertau Hersbrucker, Styrian Golding, and Irish Moss. I think it’s really amazing firstly, how many different kinds of hop varietals there are, but more importantly, the way they all come together when mixed and combined. For example, I’ve used Irish Moss in sweeter beers, but here with the Hersbrucker and Golding, I am expecting to have a more bitter result.

Now the most important part- the records. I like listening to vinyl while brewing because it breaks up the process a bit. Depending on what you’re listening to, it’s a fun (but not necessarily accurate) way to notice how much time has elapsed. Especially during those long boils when you’re flipping records over in between.

Steve Miller Band- Book Of Dreams

Billy Joel- The Stranger

Rush- Signals

Traffic- John Barleycorn Must Die

I tend to shoot for the classics- in case the brewday turns stressful, you want that familiar record playing in the background to get you back in the right mindset. I’ll turn to the new music when I’m tasting the beer- it’s experimentation with new things across the board. But for stirring 5 boiling gallons of wort, give me the familar records that in some cases have been worn out from playing them too much.

We should be ready to move into the secondary fermenter shortly. And I’ll also be trying my hand at dry hopping for the first time!