10 Musicians Discuss Craft Beer

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Beer and music—two things we unabashedly love here at Paste. We checked in with 10 musicians whose work we’re digging right now about their favorite beers, breweries, and in some cases, their collaborations with breweries to produce their very own craft beers.

1. Trenton Wheeler (Seryn)
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Favorite craft beer: Being Texas natives, we all fell in love with Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale. Texas is hot and humid most of the year, so it’s a perfect choice for a refreshing beer to beat the heat. It’s crisp and citrusy, and with an ABV right over 5%, it’s easy to enjoy a few on a hot summer day. We love spicy food too, so it pairs really well with some pad kee mao or red curry. If we had Armadillo’s beer in our new home, Nashville, we’d definitely crack a few open to enjoy with some hot chicken.

Tell us about Armadillo Ale Works: We are proud of our heritage in Denton, Texas, and Armadillo Ale Works was the first craft brewery in town. Being first doesn’t always mean you’re the best, but the guys over at Armadillo nailed it and came out with some stellar beers. Already they are gaining high accolades for their brews. The Brunch Money Imperial Golden Stout is one of the most unique and delicious stouts I’ve ever tried. It tastes like maple syrup smothered pancakes, smoky bacon, and black coffee all packed into one beer. It’s what Willy Wonka tried to do with candy.

Favorite craft beer bars: Before moving to Nashville, our two favorite spots for craft beer drinking in Denton were Oak Street Draft House (OSDH) and East Side. Both have big backyards with picnic tables and are perfectly set up for enjoying a good beer under the sunny Texas sky. OSDH has about 50 taps and the bartenders are all super rad. East Side has 100 taps, over half of which are Texas craft beers, plus there is a food truck lot right next door where you can grab some great grub.

2. Kyle Hollingsworth (String Cheese Incident, Kyle Hollingsworth Band)
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Favorite craft beer: My taste buds are always changing for beer. My favorite beers are changing on a weekly basis. And as you know, there are so many craft breweries popping up everywhere. Today, it’s Bootstrap. They have a great IPA, Insane Rush. I definitely like ales more than lagers, but I think my actual taste buds change daily; they change with the temperatures. Stone IPA is one of my favorites. I really enjoy Tank 7 by Boulevard. The better question is, “what is in your fridge?”

Tell us how you got into brewing: I started when I was a teenager—probably 16 or 17. It has been over 20 years I’ve been home brewing. Honestly, my brother was doing it, and I thought it was really cool. Of course, anything he did was really cool. He was home brewing, and I kind of got the buzz from him. He kind of said, “I’m over it” and handed me all the supplies, and I started making beer. I think the idea that you can put these four ingredients together and they make something completely different and then a) you can drink it, b) it processes itself, is exciting. It’s like cooking to some degree—you can add elements, you can add ingredients and get different final tastes out of that. But yeah, I’ve been brewing a long time and it has been part of my life since then.

Tell us about Hoopla and the collaboration with Boulder Beer: Hoopla was the first beer collaboration five years ago. String Cheese played at Bonnaroo that year. I was looking out over the audience in the blazing sun and everyone is drinking really bad beer and I’m like, “I get why you’re drinking the light beer because it’s not too heavy.” But there has to be a solution where people can have a beer that is more sessionable that people can drink while watching their favorite band when it’s 85 or 90 degrees, but have more character than whatever they were drinking. I came back to Boulder Beer and said we should make something that is lighter but still has hop flavor that can be drunk in the sun. And just to be clear, I’m in there. I’m in the kettle scrubbing when they’re done. I’m making the beer that people actually drink. I help create the recipe, and I’m in there saying, “maybe we should do this less and this more.” I’m more hands-on.

You’ve collaborated with several breweries. Talk a little bit about that: I had a new solo CD come out about six months ago called the Speed of Life. I wanted to do something with craft beer, and I had three songs I wanted to showcase on the album. So I contacted three separate breweries and made three separate beers based on those tracks. The first one I made was with Stone Brewing Company called Collective Distortion. And I made a track for that one. And then when you got the bottle in the grocery store you could scan it and get the track for free. Then I made Hoopla with the second track with Boulder Beer. That was a no brainer. Then I made Happening Now with Cigar City out of Florida. So there are three national beers called Hop Tracks. So those are the three national beers I have made that people could buy everywhere, but I have done a lot of collaborations. I made one with Sweetwater—a cask conditioned version of one of their base beers. It turned out really great. I was talking to the head brewer about maybe taking that to the next level. It’s really good. So I kind of do collaborations when I’m going places. I try to get there a few days early and we’ll talk recipes and brew a batch together. That is part of the whole thing now. When I play music, I try to connect a beer to some degree.

3. Jesse Ebaugh (Heartless Bastards)
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Favorite craft beer: I would have to say my favorite craft beer in America is Bell’s Oberon Ale. I had my first one on draught at my friend Dave Cunningham’s bar, The Comet, in Cincinnati. I’m not a fan of wheat beers in general, which this one is, but there’s something special about this one. Maybe it’s that it’s fairly hopped, which gives it a cleanliness on the palate that is perfect for summer afternoons…maybe that’s why as I sit on my porch listening to the Cincinnati Reds on 700 WLW I long for one to cut the Texas heat.

Favorite craft brewery: I have to applaud Bell’s Brewery in general, as all of their beers really appeal to me. A fine example of their style is their IPA, Two Hearted Ale, which exhibits a balance not found in almost all of the American IPAs that I taste. I applaud their restraint in an American craft beer world which seems to be pushing the limits of bittering and ABV with offerings that begin to verge on the undrinkable.

4. Jonathan Jameson (Delta Spirit)
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Favorite craft beers: (1) Pizza Port’s Poor Man’s Double IPA or any wet hop they do. I’m not a big DIPA guy. High ABV usually messes with the bright hop flavor that I love in San Diego-style IPAs, but this one is great. (2) Highland Park Brewery’s Vacation with Brett. My friend Bob Kuntz was an incredible home brewer and just started this new brewery in Los Angeles. In my honest opinion it has become the best brewery in L.A., right out of the gate. He worked at Father’s Office in Culver City, Calif. and quit to start the brewery. (3) Modern Times’ Fortunate Islands – easy drinking with great tropical and bright citrus notes. [It’s] one of the few wheat IPAs that I keep going back to. Honorable mention is Westbrook’s Gose. If you see it, get it!

Favorite craft brewery: Pizza Port will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s where I learned to love craft beer, and they keep killing it. It’s a legendary San Diego beer and pizza establishment.

Favorite craft beer bars: The Thirsty Monk in Ashville, N.C. is pretty special. Upstairs is American craft and the basement is all Belgian. They get some rare stuff. Tørst in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is one of a kind in the states because of its Evil Twin connection. They are, from what I understand, financially connected to Evil Twin Brewing and therefore get a lot of cool and funky Scandinavian beer. For example I got Omnipollo’s Nebuchadnezzar Imperial IPA on draft there. Finally, Hermosillo in Highland Park, Los Angeles is rad, as it’s the home of Highland Park Brewery and has all of their current beers on tap as well as some well-curated guest taps.

5. Matt Myers (Houndmouth)
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Favorite craft beer: I grew up drinking German wheat beers. The heavy hitters like Franziskaner and Weihenstephaner and stuff like that. Then I moved to hops for a while, and twist my tits if the U.S. craft breweries don’t have that fucking market cornered. Bell’s Two Hearted was the staple for me, and then it seemed like every beer I had after that was packed with hops. So packed full and so accessible that I got burnt out. Now, I’m on a lager kick but nobody is really in the business of making lagers right now. Fucking beer that tastes like beer. Who would have thought? Not to mention when I ask for a lager it’s countered with a snarky, “well, the closest thing we have to a domestic is…” Then a glance at the menu: Camomile Kolsch, chocolate coffee stouts, raspberry ales. Spare me. So it’s back to the Germans with a Spaten for the win.

Tell us about Houndmouth’s collaboration with New Albanian Brewing Company: We grew up in New Albany, and New Albanian Brewing Company was really our first glimpse into the world of craft beer…We really buy into the idea of local supporting local, so we wanted to participate in that with our friend Roger Baylor at New Albanian. We approached him with the idea of making a beer together—one that we could have at our local and regional shows, something to share with friends and family. And thus came Houndmouth Ale. New Albanian couldn’t have been more easy and fun to work with, and they are one of the more adventurous craft breweries we’ve come across. The relationship has been a fun creative partnership, which includes having our ale at as many Indiana and Kentucky shows as we can.

6. Adam Turla (Murder By Death)
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Favorite craft beer: I like a pale ale. If I’m looking for something I can drink a lot of, I tend to go with craft pilsners or lagers. I fell in love with Augustiner-Bräu when we were in Germany on tour. I like Oskar Blues’ Dale’s Pale Ale as well.

Favorite craft brewery: 3 Floyd’s has been making perfect beers for a while now. They started to get it on tap in Bloomington, Ind. where I was living way before I saw it anywhere on the road. Just really crisp, wonderful stuff, and the actual brewery is rad too. Metal is always playing and they’re always showing some gore movie that shouldn’t be on while you’re eating. But it doesn’t make the food any less good!

Favorite craft beer bar: There’s a crazy place called Sergio’s here in Louisville that is a house turned into a craft beer bar, where the walls are lined with fridges. There are no prices on the beers, Sergio just remembers what they are. It’s got casual food too and is full of characters.

7. G. Love (G. Love and Special Sauce)
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Favorite craft beer: I’ve been on an IPA kick. I like brown ales a lot too, but I’ve been ordering a lot of IPAs recently. Cisco Brewery’s Whale Tale Pale Ale is a good one. Big Boss Brewing’s Bad Penny Brown Ale is a good one, too.

Tell us about your introduction to craft beer: Well actually my first introduction was in high school. It must have been 1988 or something and home brewing was just starting to take off. And this store called Home Brew opened in Philadelphia and me and my buddy for a chemistry project actually brewed beer. We brewed an IPA. We called it B and G’s Bare Beer. We brewed it and served Dixie cups of it to our tenth grade chemistry class. My first intro to craft beer was making my own. I actually home brewed some cream soda after that. That was my last thing until I got to work with New Belgium a few years ago.

Tell us about Peach Porch Lounger and your collaboration with New Belgium: I met the people from New Belgium years ago when they were sponsoring a gig I was doing. I just talked to them about that idea and then it kind of percolated for a couple of years and finally they were doing their Lips of Faith series and they invited me to do that with them. So for that beer, the gist of it was let’s make a beer that represents the music that I make taking elements of the blues and a back porch thing. I grew up in Philadelphia and spent summers at the Jersey Shore. That’s where I would write a lot of my music—on my mom’s front porch on the Jersey Shore. Jersey is really known for its peaches and tomatoes so we decided to do a peach beer. It was actually a really complex beer. It was interesting to make because I was working with master brewers out there. We used grits, biscuit malts and molasses. It was a lot of southern “bluesy” ingredients to represent that and the peach to represent the front porch.

Honestly, that was just a limited edition, but it’s been a dream of mine to partner up with someone and have a beer that’s going to be part of their brand. I want to do a summer shandy. G Love’s summer shandy because my whole thing is lemonade.

8. Steve Pierce (Banditos)
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Favorite craft beers: My absolute favorite craft beer is Good People IPA. It’s from Birmingham, Ala. so even if it tasted like it was brewed with a horseshoe, my roots wouldn’t allow me to not drink it. Luckily, it’s delicious so I don’t worry about that. I’ve really come to love the different Yazoo beers after being in Tennessee a few years as well, my favorite is the Gerst Amber. A new favorite after our last run through Florida is Funky Buddha. They had a beer with maple syrup and bacon in it.

Favorite craft brewery: It’s a close tie between Trim Tab Brewery and Good People, both in Birmingham. Trim Tab is a really cool place to sit and have a drink and I’ve had really pleasant times there. Good People, along with Avondale Brewery, saved Birmingham from boring beers. There was a time not too long ago when all you could get in the state of Alabama was boring regular beers. They worked fine, yes, they got you drunk, but so did old perfume. With the Free the Hops movement we were able to finally get the all the great beers we experienced when we went out of town. Good People IPA was the first I tried in 2009 when I saw it in the local Piggly Wiggly. Until then, like most other Alabamians, I had only ever drank PBR or Bud. This shit blew my mind. It actually tasted like something.

9. Matt Burke (Have Gun, Will Travel)
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Favorite craft beer: Gotta say, and this truly isn’t a shameless self-promotion, my favorite craft beer is our own Have Gun, Will Travel’s High Road Ale. [It’s] a collaboration with Tampa-based Rock Brothers Brewing. It’s no accident that me and the other members of the band favor the beer. We were involved from the beginning…We would sample different beers and discuss the direction we wanted to go with it, with Wayne [Wambles] listening to our albums for inspiration as he created the recipe.

Tell us about Have Gun, Will Travel’s collaboration with Rock Brothers: We were approached in early 2013 by the founders of Rock Brothers Brewing with their idea of combining music and craft beer. At the time Rock Brothers was an upstart brewery. So they partnered with the Cigar City Brewing to create the recipe for our very own High Road Ale. The smooth drinking American pale ale was named after a song from our last album. In fact, High Road Ale won National Grand Champion for pale ales in the 2013 United States Beer Tasting Competition. It’s hoppy, but not too hoppy. And as a nod to the band’s hometown of Bradenton, Fla., home of Tropicana’s manufacturing plant, the beer has a hint of citrus.

10. Ryan Schilling (Triumph of the Wild)
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Favorite craft beer: I’d say my treat beer would be the Peanut Butter Milk Stout by Belching Beaver in San Diego. I really appreciate a good smooth stout, and when you nail the peanut butter taste like Belching Beaver did it’s hard to say anything bad about it. I would say my favorite every day beer would be Rouge’s Nut Brown Ale. Really drinkable and light enough to kill the six pack solo, if you wanted to. I’ll usually grab a beer that involves smoke or nut flavors before anything hoppy.

Favorite craft brewery: I recently discovered Fall Brewing in San Diego and they have some very full-flavored interesting beers. I’d say before we left to travel they were my new favorite. You have to try their 2AM Bike Ride. You’ll never have a different vanilla coffee stout again. They are located in an old garage turned brewery and it’s a fun spot with good beers.

Favorite craft beer bar: I’d say a really cool one with just the right attitude and selection would be Hops on Birch in Flagstaff, Ariz. I just found out a few nights ago that they offered Pabst on tap for $30 as a joke on anyone coming in there to order it…They have live music, lots of taps, and you can’t go wrong with Flagstaff’s nature and city. Another one we celebrated at for completing our recording of the new album was called Beer Revolution in Oakland—tons of beers on tap from all over, friendly, divey small bar, barrel tables to hang at, big front patio. [They] also have a good bottle selection to get some to go.

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