Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dammit, Frank Turner style.

I found a video of Frank Turner performing Dammit.

So, I mean, if you're my age, enjoy being taken back to middle school. Plus bonus Ballad of Me and my Friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Part Two of the Salty Dog Trilogy: Frank Turner

Frank Turner


Come on folks and try this at home


Fuck Art Let's Dance by To ØL

You will like if:
 You enjoy dry finishes
You aren't scared of a bit of acidic tartness
You remember the four simple words

You will not like if:
There seems to be a recurring theme lately, but you don't enjoy funky beer
Gooseberries just sounds absurd to you
You think music is clearly defined and totally structured and that is final

I grew up listening to punk rock and heavy metal. Pennywise, Bad Religion, NOFX, Face to Face, Hatebreed, Unearth, Grimlock. I thought music, for many years, was meant to lead revolution. To rebel and to be angry, to fight for what you believed in. To bond through blood and sweat and rage. Yeah I was that guy. 

I still enjoy these things. Don't let the collars on my work shirts fool you, I'm still very much punk. It defined younger me into the person I am today. My workout playlist is nothing but rage-filled metalcore. But no band or artist or musician had actually made me feel until I discovered Frank Turner. 

This will sound silly, but I remember the night his music changed my outlook on music. It was November, and I was driving home from downtown after meeting some friends at a bar. I was listening to the radio and, after I think eleven o'clock back then, they switched to a request punk rock station. You know where listeners from all over call in to leave a recorded request message. Anyway, I heard "Frank Turner, Photosynthesis." 

That's weird, I thought. I had never heard that name. A light acoustic guitar started strumming. I very nearly turned the channel. 

And this came on:

A rush, warm and electric, just arced through me. What was this? I mused to myself. I later discovered it was musical-induced feelings.  When I got home I scoured youtube and listened to everything on there, watched every video. I downloaded every song I could find. 

I called to my wife; "I found our new favorite musician."

He opens nearly every show with this:

And he gets the entire venue singing with this:

I could go on, but I won't. Part of the fun is discovery. Every song was mix of lyrical mastery and anger and sorrow and camaraderie. Every show is about singing and dancing with friends, celebrating life. All pretentiousness about music is stripped away, reinforced when he gets up and plays looking like this:

That's just him and a guitar and a Hawaiian shirt. And he owned the place. About midway through his set he said something very profound that I will never forget. We were on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and it felt like we were drinking with "our good friend Frank." Surrounded by some of the best celtic punk bands in the world. I, along with very surely every person in that venue, was a veteran of hundreds of punk shows and years of carefully accumulating my music library. And I will be the first to admit that I have, in the past, shaken my head at so-called radio punk. 

Anyway, he told the crowd that he was considered, among critics, to be a gateway musician. That is to say, a musician to start your punk journey with. And that's kind of true. I'd consider him folk punk, but he's very mild in that regard compared to more "traditional" punk rock bands. And he said he was fine with that, because you know what?

Who fuckin' cares? 

Whatever bands or music that got you into the scene or music, raise a glass to them. On that ship we were all friends. No seriously. Literally everywhere we went, we made friends. We danced, we sang, we drank with strangers, but for those nights, we were friends. Old guys with long gray beards, young couples, groups of friends from other countries. It didn't matter, for those three days and nights, we were friends. And that meant something. 

So he shared his own gateway band experience: Blink 182, a band that more or less defined my 8th grade year. We all kind of laughed, because I mean it was Blink 182. Everybody liked Blink, but everybody kind of moved on long ago.

And Frank went on to play an acoustic, slowed-down version of Dammit. And I'm telling you right now, with a mixture of beer and new friends and the setting and nostalgia of my middle school music awakening and just the entire experience, it was one of the best live performances I've ever seen. 

And I've seen GWAR live.

Which brings us to the beer. 

Inspired by this song:

I could think of no better beer than this:

Fuck Art Let's Dance. A good deal of Frank Turner's performances and music deal with the bullshit of music, how it's often held in such high regard, by both fans and musicians themselves, that it becomes ridiculous. It's just people with instruments, nothing more. Nothing to be worshiped. It's just music. And so that's why I chose this beer. 

It starts off tart and acidic, the kind that hits you under your tongue. Fruity, like maybe apples and pears? But then it hits you with a slow fruit funk. I'm not sure what gooseberries are, but I imagine that's the flavor. And then it hits you with a dry finish. 

I mean I love funky and sour beers. The funkier the better. So naturally I loved it. But I did some research on the brewery. To ØL Brewing, based out of Copenhagen Denmark. They call themselves a gypsy brewery, and I was delighted to discover they had no brewery at all. They brew everything on contract, traveling from brewery to brewery to craft their brews. Like traveling nomads and gypsies. 

And I thought that was just perfect. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Salty Dog 2016: Part one of the Salty Dog Trilogy

Sail away where no ball and chain
Can keep us from the roarin' waves
Together undivided but forever we'll be free

So sail away aboard our rig
The moon is full and so are we
Seven drunken pirates we're the seven deadly sins

Hoo boy, settle in and get ready for the 

Salty Dog Adventure


The best damn three days ever

Where to even begin? Just check out this lineup:

I don't even know how to start. Three days of celtic punk, on a ship. With unlimited food and booze. In what used to be pirate-infested waters. Pirates! Beer! Punk! The only thing that could have made it any better was Sid Meier's Pirates Gold.
This game really buckled my swashes. I'm also going to use this joke at least three more times.

Okay, deep breath. 

I'll start small. Let's meet Beans on Toast:

Few musicians or bands can get me to smile the instant I put them on. Beans on Toast happens to be one. Just give it a listen. Check out a few of them. It's just him in a ratty hat and sandals with a guitar, singing catchy folk tunes of happiness and love with a hint of revolution and a healthy dose of "pull your heads out of your asses." If I had to sum him up in a single image, it would be: 
Seriously, just listen:

We saw him after visiting Nassau (more on that later) which has an extensive history in piracy, and now includes a pirate tour museum. So he gets on stage with the following story (just picture like a heavy blue collar English accent)

"Did you know that pirates never made anybody walk the plank? Some bloke just made that up. And they also didn't bury any treasure. Which means I spent all fuckin' morning digging up the beach for nuffin'"

I was about six beers in so I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. 

I actually had to search a bit to pair a beer with Beans on Toast. I was leaning to a full English style, one you'd drink in a pub over a good conversation. But I decided to go with Crustless from Ursula:

A peanut butter and jelly porter. I've been kind of half-heartedly researching a peanut butter and jelly recipe off and on for about a year now, and renewed my research after my somewhat successful peanut butter porter. But the jelly and bread, one might say integral parts of the sandwich, always threw me off. Would I go for a roasty, bready porter? A malty ESB base? And what about the jelly? Fruit is hard to balance without overpowering the other flavors. 

Ursula pulled it off. It poured with no head or lacing whatsoever, which worried me at first. But then I smelled it, and it smelled like a damned sandwich. 

Can you guess what it tasted like? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There's no other way to describe it. It had creamy peanut butter, a swirl of (grape?) jelly flavor all washed down with a roasty, crusty bready porter backbone. 

It was simple, based on a simple sandwich. But it worked. And so I can think of nothing I'd like to pair better with Beans on Toast than the Crustless Porter. I mean, watch this:

And tell me that's not a peanut butter jelly sandwich in music form. No way that man doesn't enjoy a good pbj. 

South Denver Beer Fest

First off, it was raining and freezing cold. And here was the line to get into the park:

Why was there only one guy checking tickets?

I was on assignment for Brew Table as a special agent. At least that's what I told myself. In reality my beer buddy wanted someone to get him some pictures and beer reviews. And that I did. Let's begin.

I'm going to be focusing on the standouts. So we'll start with Juicy Bits from Weldwerks in Greeley. At first I was going to try it based solely on the fact that the name made me giggle. 

A fairly standard IPA, but with a solid malty backbone. 

Agamemnon British IPA caught my attention next, I suppose because I was in a hoppy mood. 
Mostly I wanted to show off my beard.

Another solid IPA with a malty backbone. I pondered the direction my tastes were taking me on that day and moved on to Copper Kettle, a brewery I was very familiar with. I tried to stay off the beaten path and try new things, but their Mexican Stout is just too good to stay away. During one brewfest (who can remember which one) one of the brewers told me they were more than just the Mexican Stout brewery. 

"That's nice," I replied. "Go ahead and pour me a Mexican Stout."

Absolutely delicious, as usual. Rich, roasty, chocolate and cinnamon with a slow burning heat that bites you right in the back of the mouth. Thanks Mexican Stout brewery. To even it out, I also tried their Berliner Weisse.

Which was, unsurprisingly, fantastic. I mean, if you can make a Mexican Stout like that, you can do just about anything. 

The runner-up for my best showing of the day had to be Loveland Aleworks. This is gonna be a big one, so strap in. 
It was so good I almost forgot to take a picture.
Let's start with the Chocolate Coconut Porter called Darkest Day. Which I felt was appropriate for the weather. Oh man, this was a solid showing. Smooth chocolate with a hint of creamy coconut and a stronger coconut nose. This was a rainy-day drinker. I wanted to just post up here and let it ride, but the wife wanted to try the next few, and I'm glad I did. 
Her: "Change up your pictures. Your hand is boring."
Me: "You got it."

I have a weakness for anything Belgian-style, and then you add in "aged in red wine barrels?" Sold, good sir. The Belgian yeast flavor wasn't as strong as I'd have liked, but the wine barrel gave it that chewy wood feel that I so love with a fruity backbone. 

"Ooo," I heard my wife mutter. I stopped enjoying my Belgian Tripel to look behind me and saw this:

Pecan pie beer, whaaaat? I had to give it a go. I love experimental beers, so I was sure I would like this one. And sure enough, I was right. I don't know how else to describe it other than it tasted like pecan pie. Well done, Blue Spruce Brewing

Now, chili beers are tricky. Most folks instantly turn away from them, but I absolutely adore chili beers. I make one myself, a serrano wheat in fact. So I gasped when I saw:

And it was fantastic. In fact, I can honestly say it tasted almost identical to mine. Is that braggy? It sounds braggy. I'm keeping it though. 

Last up is Destihl. And even though it was physically last on our rotation, it was fortuitous that they had the three best beers in the festival. 

They all sounded delightful, so I camped out there for a bit to work down the line. And first up was Here GOSE Nothin', a Leipzig style gose. 

I don't know the difference between a Leipzig gose or otherwise, but what I do know is that this was one of the tartest, saltiest gose's I've ever had. It was almost like seawater. Which sounds weird to describe a beer like that, but just go with me on this. I try gose every time I see one on tap, and this is probably the most unique one I've ever had. 

I smacked my lips and eagerly awaited my pour of their Flanders Red. 
That's the surprised look of "Holy cow this is sour."
I could smell the tartness before I even brought it to my nose. Nothing could have prepared me. Well, one thing. It tasted like one of those sour warhead candies. Like tastebud melting sour. The most sour beer I've ever had was from Crooked Stave, and this might have topped it. 

You don't often ask to wash your mouth out with a citrus IPA, but there we were:
I'm pretty sure the fill-line was about where my thumb was.

Yep, just look at it. You can tell it's a citrus flavorbomb just by the golden haze. Fruity, but not overpoweringly so. Most of the fruit came from the nose, which was full of citrus. 

So there you have it. My personal recommendations, backed by the Hop To No Good guarantee, which is I know you'll like it, but if you don't I'll be happy to drink it for you.