Nerding Out With W00tStout

Basically, if you want something to be cool, pair it with a beer. I think that’s the point of this blog. Even things that explicitly exude nerdiness get cool when they collaborate with a beer. Case in point, the latest from Stone Brewing Company, the Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout.

“Oh, you love the thing that I love? Let’s love it together!”

-Wil Wheaton

I tried it on draft this weekend at the Outer Space. It’s probably not the beer of choice to drink at 2 in the afternoon, but it needed to be tested and time was of the essence. I was thrown off by the “partially aged” description. Upon research, I learned that one quarter of the batch was aged in bourbon barrels. So the beer did not have such an intense bourbon flavor, which was just right since there were so many different flavors at work.

It pours the color of dark chocolate, with a short, deep tan head. It is nutty, from the pecans that it is brewed with. Slightly sweet, mildly toasty. Although I had it on draft, I would be interested to pick up a few bottles for aging.

At 13% ABV it’s a bit of a monster. Fellow Outer Space drinker Sean C. says, “W00tstout is a destroyer. I think that is the strongest beer I’ve ever had.”

Wil Wheaton is best known for his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He is also a fellow blogger whose musings you can check out here.

Drew Curtis created the website Fark.com which provides weird, funny, and interesting news from around the Internet daily.

What would I pair this brew with? Well, I would probably have to say one of my favorite bands, Rush. Like Stone, Rush has been putting out solid material for years. Like Wil Wheaton and Fark, Rush has definitely developed a strong following in the “geek” community (I’m putting it in parenthesis because I really mean the AWESOME community). In the end though, craft beer lovers come from all walks of life and personalities. The more people that practice good beer-drinking habits the better it’ll be for everyone else, so drink up, and try the w00tstout if you see it on draft or in a bottle.

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Live Hops: 3 Shows, 3 Beers

I caught a TON of great live music this past week. It would be really time consuming to write about each one individually, so I’m going to give you the highlights.

10/10/12

Rush- Webster Bank Arena- Bridgeport, CT

This is probably the one show I could go on for a long time about. I’ve never seen Rush before last week, which is a crime since they are one of my favorite bands. They put on a fantastic show at the arena in Bridgeport. Our seats weren’t close to the stage at all, but the sound was still good. I especially liked that it wasn’t a “greatest hits” show. Sure, they played “Spirit Of Radio” and “YYZ” and “Tom Sawyer” that get played about 10 times a day on a given classic rock station. But they delved into a lot of stuff from the 80s, with a good number of songs from Power Windows, Grace Under Pressure, and opening up with one of my favorite Rush tunes, “Subdivisions” from 1982’s Signals. They played 2 sets; the second of which covered more material from their latest release, Clockwork Angels. The on stage visuals were awesome. The stage was set up like a time machine, with weird props such as a popcorn maker, strewn about.

My beer of choice for this show was Murphy’s Stout, which, at 7.25 a pint, was not outrageous for arena pricing. Not a bad stout, but I would definitely choose a Guinness over it if given the choice.

10/12/12

Kvelertak/Torche/Converge- Club INT- New Britain, CT

Getting to see two of your favorite bands in the same week rules. So I was really looking forward to catching Kvelertak with Torche and Converge in New Britain. I sort of have mixed feelings about this show though. The last time I saw Kvelertak was possibly one of the greatest shows I’ve ever been to, on a Rocks Off boat cruise with Skeletonwitch last year. So it’s not really possible to top that. But they still played hard for a short set. I can’t wait until they come out with a new record. Kvelertak was the band that I really went to the show for, so after their set I wasn’t as psyched up for the next two bands. I also got hit in the nose so even physically I wasn’t that into it. Torche rocked it though; they were heavy and super sludgey, two of my favorite qualities in metal. I have to admit- by the time Converge came on, I was tired, and not really digging the crowd for them. Really full of energy which was awesome, but not what I was into at the time. As for the venue- for a place I’d never heard of until now, I would definitely go back to Club INT again. It’s comparable in size to the Webster Theater in Hartford, but way easier to get to and navigate around in.

My beer of choice was Bud Light and a shot of well whiskey- and yes, I am counting these as one drink. They were equally awful. Much like getting hit in the face.

10/15/12

Silversun Pickups- Terminal 5- New York, NY

Driving to New York on a Monday night was on a spur of the moment whim. My brother had an extra ticket so I said sure. This is going to sound really cliche, but I remember listening to Silversun Pickups a few years ago and thinking, “this band is great. they’re going to be really huge”. Maybe playing a packed house at Terminal 5 two nights in a row isn’t HUGE, but it’s definitely not small. I just thought they had a really cool sound. Unfortunately I never really followed their music much since, although whenever I have checked out their records I have always enjoyed them. So when I saw them live, I definitely was more familiar with them than I expected. Their live show was great. The set was just the right blend of well known songs and ones off their new record. The sound was great too- the vocals were front and center and everything was mixed really well. I also really enjoyed the visuals- I just noticed the lights more than I have in other shows at Terminal 5 that night, and they really helped to visualize the music.

After 3 shows and much partying in a weekend, my liver and wallet were depleted. It was Tecate in a can, and it was pretty terrible.
Summary: A week of great shows but horrible beer drinking. It all evens out in the end.

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.