Sunday, March 15, 2015

Woah ooh ooh ooh, ooooooh ooh oooh oh oh!

Great Divide Belgian Yeti


United Anarchists

You will like if you:
Enjoy the heaviest of stouts
Are like me and want to someday travel to Belgium and visit all the monastery breweries
Are in your thirties or so and still like the beers and music you did when you first started liking beer and music

Probably the best deal I've ever gotten.
So this one was a hard one to pair with. Saturday, March 14, my favorite band in the world, Pennywise, came to town. What's that? You don't know Pennywise? Or you just know their one song, the one song that everyone knows, even if you don't listen to punk rock?
Pennywise released their album, Full Circle, in 1997. I was fifteen, barely in high school and without any sort of identity. I had friends that I'd hung out with since elementary school. Friends that were way cooler than me. They would take me out and dress me up in nice clothes and spike up my hair and literally throw me at girls at Elitch's. I'll never forget the night that a group of kids at a movie theater broke up laughing and called us the Backstreet Boys.

That wasn't me.

I decided I'd had enough. I didn't like wearing khaki cargoes and buttoned up shirts. I didn't like spiking my hair. And I just wanted to stay at home and play video games. I didn't care about dating or partying or alcohol or any of that. 

At this time, my only albums were the Mortal Kombat soundtrack -

(still awesome)
And the Escape from LA soundtrack - 

(Bangkok rules: Nobody draws till this hits the ground)

So I guess I was into industrial electronic music?

Then I heard Full Circle. My friends were into punk rock at that age, and I sort of vicariously picked up a few bands through them. I remember AFI being big back then. Nothing could have prepared me for Pennywise. Everything changed. My entire musical existence had been altered. Every song, from the first second to the last, was an audio assault on my ears and emotions. 

Written shortly after their bassist, Jason Thirsk, committed suicide, every single track is an emotional blast of pure punk rock energy. Every track was full of anger and sadness, a true punk rock therapy album to work through their issues and the loss of their friend. 

All of a sudden I was listening to a new world of music. Bad Religion, Offspring, Millencolin, AFI, Lagwagon, Good Riddance....

I came from a supporting, loving home, and I never really felt the need to rebel or truly rage against this so-called machine. 

But all of a sudden I felt like I had found me. 

In the early 2000's, Pennywise rarely came to Colorado. I remember they opened for 311 once at Red Rocks, and I skipped my senior year homecoming dance to go. I feel like I made the better choice. I didn't really care much for 311; I enjoyed their music, but I came to see Pennywise. 

My mouth dropped when the pair of kids behind me asked, "Who is Pennywise? I haven't heard them on the radio, they must not be good."


My buddy and I got rowdy when our favorite band came on, and were pretty much the only  kids in the pit. Which was a feat in and of itself, for Red Rocks, as you know, is a layer of nothing but stairs and benches. We still tore it up, and then left before the main event started. We were there for one purpose. 

The next time I saw them, in 2009 or 10, they headlined a show at the Fillmore. After several albums that all kind of sounded the same, that all sounded mellowed out and radioed-up, their performance was lackluster. Something was off, and I didn't enjoy it at all. You can tell if a punk rock or metal or hardcore band isn't into it. In Flames, as much as I love them, put on one of the worst shows I've ever seen. They were tired, lethargic, and just plain didn't want to be playing that night. I'll never forget that, and that sucks because it colored my perception of one of the better metal heavyweights. That night, like In Flames, Pennywise seemed to just be going through motions, and I left the show feeling empty.

Shortly after, frontman Jim Lindberg left the band citing personal reasons. And that was fine. Nothing lasts forever. But it was the end of an era. 

I won't go into too much detail, but All or Nothing, the album put out with new frontman Zoli Teglas of Ignite was SICK NASTY. Most Pennywise fans will say it wasn't truly Pennywise without Jim, and it didn't sound like the classic band. 

That is true, I'm not disputing that. But let me tell you that was the freshest punk sound I'd heard in years. 
I saw them live with Zoli leading the charge and it was amazing. Sorry die-hard Pennywise fans. It was amazing. Zoli had energy, the band was having fun, and they absolutely nailed the performance, both new and old songs. 

Skip ahead to 2012. Jim returns, they reconcile, and put out Yesterdays, a bunch of never-released tracks from the 80's. Pennywise had returned. 

That meandering story leads us to March 14. I had seen Pennywise open for Bad Religion and Offspring over the summer, and it was a pretty paint-by-numbers show. They did the old stuff, the new stuff, and killed it. But Pennywise excels best at small venues. And the Gothic Theater is about as small as you can get. 

That's punk rock. Getting rowdy with a thousand other fans, twenty feet from stage. With Jim once again leading the charge, they absolutely crushed it. They were having fun. They played their old hits. They took requests. They covered Bad Religion, they covered Beastie Boys (which was as amazing as it sounds), they played Stand By Me, which I have never heard them play live. 

There was energy, there was anger, there was therapy, there was happiness.

It was one of the best shows I'd ever seen. 

Which leads me to Belgian Yeti, by Great Divide. 

Pennywise is my favorite band, and Great Divide is my favorite brewery. Ah, see the connection? You thought I had lost my train of thought. Acting!

So Belgian Yeti is their base flagship of the Yeti Stout, which is delicious in its own right, fermented with Belgian yeast. The result is a chocolaty, roasty, heavy, angry, spicy stout that I am able to enjoy at any time of year. I usually save my heavy stouts (and this is a heavy one) for colder weather. Because I'll just be honest, I'm a big baby with higher alcohol beers in the heat. 

But Yeti brewed with Belgian yeast turns it into an easier-drinking delight. So imagine my dismay when, in 2012, they stopped brewing this beer. 

Fast forward to last June. Great Divide reveals it was all a ruse! They had stored and cellared an entire shipment of Belgian Yeti! Beer that was already aged two years! Entire cases for sale! FOR 25 DOLLARS.

Listen here. I've spent well more than 25 dollars on a single bottle. And you're telling me I can get a case of 12 bottles of one of my favorite beers for 25 bucks?! You better believe I bought two cases. My only regret is that I didn't make enough money back then to buy ten cases. 

Because I drank all but two. Those two I have stashed in my beer cellar. AKA, the cupboard above my fridge. The cupboard that requires a considerable amount of effort to reach, thus allowing my beer to age in peace.

Two-year aged Belgian Yeti took on a darker tone. Plums and coffee and molasses and wine barrel came through. The pour was as black as black could be, with a creamy golden-brown head like bread crust. It's an assault on the tastebuds from the first sip to the last. 

Heavy, spicy, roasty. 

Great Divide was the first real "big beer" brewery I liked. My entire beer tastes changed after I tried a Yeti, and I saw beer differently after that. 

My first love in punk.

My first love in beer.