Monday, March 23, 2015


New Belgium Lips of Faith: Gratzer



You will like if you:
Like smoked beers
Like sitting directly in front of a campfire with the wind blowing it straight in your face
Get excited to try brutal, harsh beers as a test of what you can drink

You will not like if you:
Don't like smoked beers
Don't like eating campfires
Exclusively enjoy smooth, easy sippin' brews

Hatebreed was one of the first truly hardcore metal bands I ever got into. I remember closing down the Pizza Hut I worked at in high school and blasting Satisfaction is the Death of Desire after hours. And the rest of the band's albums are prominent fixtures on my workout playlist. Listen to this and tell me you don't want to go outside and like wrestle a bear or something:

That's pumpin' iron music.

I saw them around 2002, with Snapcase opening. Absolutely brutal. My body was bruised and spongy the next day, and more than one person at work asked if I had gotten into a fight. I could hardly walk, and both eyes were bruised.

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

Like I've said before, I grew up in a healthy family environment. Never truly mad, though I did have my share of angsty teenage years. But stress builds in us all. Video games helped, and now, beer does too. But sometimes you just want to jump around and wail on the dude next to you while getting wailed on in return. I'm not a fighter, not even close. But I can see the appeal of it. 

These shows are therapy. Cheap therapy. For about twenty bucks you can let out every anger, every stress, every source of anxiety. And for a few hours, there are no rules. It's freedom. 

So when I saw they were coming back to town, now in my early thirties, I stopped to think for a moment. I haven't been to a real hard show in years. Did I need to unleash the inner beast mode Jason? 

And then I remembered I worked in a school.

Ticket bought. 

And they are just as brutal as I remembered. If there's one thing Hatebreed does well, they take care of their own. Every song is about empowering yourself and rising above adversity and making things better. Often through rage, but you can interpret that how you see fit. They stopped the show several times, amusingly, to make sure the pit didn't get out of control. Apparently the fans rioted last time they were here, and the police were called and it was just chaos. 

That's the thing. These shows are violent. They're about violence. But it's consensual violence.

Also, a local band The Anchor opened. There were a handful of other hardcore bands as well, but these guys crushed it. They have more of a melodic hardcore sound, almost like a Poison the Well vibe. Check it out:

This was a tough event to pair beer with. Ultimately I settled on the 3 Floyds/New Belgium Lips of Faith collaboration, Gratzer.

First of all, that is a pretty metal label. Zombies riding bikes. Blood dripping everywhere. One of my guilty pleasures is choosing a new beer based solely on name or label. It's like a beer adventure. A beerventure. This beerventure was a centuries-old medieval Polish beer style. Which just adds to the metalness. 

It pours dark, coffee-like. An easy foam head that settles quickly. The picture doesn't do it justice, it's a delicious toffee color. Smells like smoked malts with coffee. They added lacto bacteria to the wort to sour it, but I didn't get any of that. 

Honestly it tastes like how burnt wood smells. Not as aggressive as it looks. I expected more of a roasty taste with the malt, and it's only 4.5%. But this is one was of those beers that fully utilizes smell as well as taste. It hits you in the front with toffee and blasts you in the back with rolling smoke and embers. The Gratzer would probably go great with grilling meats or relaxing around a campfire. My first thought would be winter camping, but that's up to you.

Now I'm not a huge smoked beer fan. But I can definitely enjoy the work put into them. This was a bit harsh to finish. Bitter, smoky, kind of angry. Again, harsh. Definitely reminiscent of a smoky, dark, metal show.