Beer has a bit of a complex, always wanting to be paired with meats, cheeses, desserts and, yes, even the stage and turntable. Bringing beer and music together is nothing new—it’s hardly a concert if there’s not a can or bottle in hand—and brewers most often have the radio turned loud in the back above the machinery. You can even judge a bit about the brewery based on what comes over those speakers on brew day. But keeping the music in the back wasn’t enough, and the natural extension of the cover song is the tribute. And that includes the beer tribute to bands, and to music in general.
And so, there’s another Record Store Day upon us (April 16). In addition to getting in line early for some rare vinyl, look for these beers, many of them brewed in a single batch to mark a musical occasion. We could tell you how and where to get them, but where’s the fun in that? Many are hard to come by, some are no longer produced. Sound familiar? You’ve got to dig through the crates, which is the real fun of record shopping anyway.
The makers of one of beer’s most famous musical tributes, Miles Davis Bitches Brew, have gone for a more universal flair with this year’s Official Beer of Record Store Day. A 9.0% ABV Tripel, the beer itself changes distinctly from opening track to finish. With a sweetened tripel complemented up front with cardamom and pepper, it finishes with a spiced herbal element. Orange peel gives a unifying underlying note of citrus throughout. It’s a beer that’s big and ambitious with a lot of breakdowns. If it falls into a category on the record shelf, file Beer to Drink Music To under 1970s rock.
A rye IPA sold in 24 oz. cans, this limited release NOFX beer hit the road along with the band for their Fat Wreck Chords’ 25th anniversary tour last year. Named in honor of “Stickin’ in my Eye” off 1992’s tastefully titled White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean, the IPA is fruity in the nose and rye-spiced in build, giving it depth, but still sticking with those familiar core notes.
To inspire this new citrusy beer, the Fort Collins brewing faves, New Belgium, found inspiration in the lush indie-pop soundscapes of Austin musician Bayonne. Rather than calling it a tribute, New Belgium is instead cross-promoting Bayonne’s new album and the single “Fallss” at their website in direct correlation to the beer.
Trve Brewing Company
You know what music scene has a lot of big beards? Metal. Thus, Occam’s Razor suggests a lot of metal-themed beers. While tribute and reinterpretations are the modus operadi, Denver’s Trve embodies metal in all their work. With a line-up that includes Hellion, Utukky, Aura, To Helles and Back, Stout O))), and Of Wolf and Hatred, they embody the dark spirits in more than a single release. Metal isn’t a marketing gimmick at the brewery, it’s trve.
Nils Oscar Brewery
Limited to Swedish release, this is a beer that combines everything Slayer is known for beyond the music. A gore-y concept fully realized, a touch of evil in the name, and packaging you can’t turn away from unless you’re carrying a toddler.
As part of the annual GWAR B-Q events in Richmond, Virginia, Cigar City has unleashed a new easy drinking festival-themed beer the past two years. A Killsner pilsner and, in 2015, Oderus pale ale in memory of deceased frontman Oderus Urungus. The beers are limited release and focused on sessionability, and are undoubtedly the preferred fluid to be spilled as the costume-clad band takes the stage.
Another brewery associated with metal, Surly throws a changeup with Doomtree, named and brewed in collaboration with the hip-hop collective Doomtree. It’s a spiced and toasty take on an English bitter, pulling the group’s many voices together into a cohesive and distinct whole. Surly is no stranger to music-themed beers, having also brewed special batches for the likes of Amon Amarth, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, and Dillinger Four.
Folk troubadour Frank Turner has played venues of all sizes, from the dankest basements to the Olympics Opening Ceremony. With his English classicism that blends with modern convention, Believe is a modified take on Belgian wheat beer: smooth, earthy, and down to earth but, alternately ambitious and fresh.
Hanson Brothers Beer Company
We’d be remiss to ignore this hop bomb pale ale that showcases how the singers of 1997’s megahit “Mmmbop” are all grown up. While Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber have come of age under the unforgiving black lights of the celebrity gossip columns, the Hanson brothers did the classy thing: they quietly sat back and sipped a beer. This was brewed in collaboration with Mustang Brewery of Oklahoma City.