Drinking Tunes: Winter Beer + Music


(Arcade Fire at Madison Square Garden, August 2010)

Here we are, at the fourth (!!) installment of seasonal music and beer pairings! It’s kinda fitting that we’re posting this a little later in the season than usual considering it’s just now starting to feel like winter here in New York and it still hasn’t snowed! Except for that one time in October. WTF? (Let’s be honest, I’m not complaining.)

As usual, I wrote a few words about five songs perfect for winter, and my friend Bret Stetka, who writes about food and drinks for Time Out New York, Metromix and MSN.com (he also has a doughnut blog — yes, a doughnut blog), paired them each with a beer that complements the music, and explained why they work together.

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Drinking Tunes: Fall Beer + Music


(Michigan State University’s campus in fall 2005)

Fall is easily my favorite season; likely because I grew up somewhere that actually has a fall (Michigan). New York typically has autumn weather, which we’re finally sort of starting to feel, but it’s definitely not the same as being somewhere with trees that change colors and leave you with a yard full of leaves to rake up and jump in. And going apple picking here is certainly not as easy as it was when I was growing up (my senior year of high school, some friends and I ditched homecoming and instead piled seven of us in my old grandpa car and went to the apple orchard). And I hope you’re prepared for lots of pumpkin, apples and soup on here in the next couple months.

I wrote a few words about five songs, new and old, that are perfect for autumn and my friend Bret Stetka, who writes about food and drinks for Time Out New York, Metromix and MSN.com (he also has a doughnut blog), paired them each with a beer that complements the music and the mood, and explained why they work together. Cheers! (Also check out our spring and summer editions.)

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Beer Bread Breakfast Sandwich (Inspired by The Replacements)

THE DISH
Breakfast sandwich with beer bread (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
This one is kinda goofy, and I hope you’ll trust me when I say it actually tasted pretty good! My beer-nerd friend Tony (who also happens to be one of my favorite cooking buddies) was in town for the holiday weekend, so he was the perfect excuse to make beer bread in honor of the Replacements song “Beer for Breakfast.” I’ll be honest: Tony did most of the work on the bread, since he’s made real bread a bunch of times before (I have not, but that’s going to change), and it turned out great. As for the sandwich, I used a fried egg, brown mustard, and … barbeque potato chips, since the song has a line about wanting to eat them. The song also talks about being broke, and everything here is definitely easy on the wallet. I know, you’re probably still gagging at the idea of this sandwich, but I swear it actually tasted pretty good. (And even if you don’t believe me, the bread is at least worth a try!)

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Drinking Tunes: Summer Beer + Music

It’s summer! Which, for me, means free outdoor shows, the Brooklyn Flea, biking, watermelon lemonade, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, outdoor markets, and drinking on rooftops. It also means crafting the perfect playlist for those rooftop outings; and I’m pretty sure there are more songs I associate with summer than any other season.

I wrote a few words about five songs, new and old, that are perfect for the sun and my friend Bret Stetka, who writes about food and drinks for Time Out New York, Metromix and MSN.com (he also has a doughnut blog), paired them each with a beer that complements the music and the mood, and explained why they work together. Cheers! (Also check out our spring beer edition.)


http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: PJ Harvey, “You Said Something”
All of PJ Harvey’s 2000 album Stories From the City, Stories from the Sea makes me want to walk aimlessly around New York in the summer, but “You Said Something” pretty much sums up what I plan to be doing all season in the city — not so much the “you said something” part, but looking at the Manhattan skyline from my Brooklyn rooftop. Don’t even try to get me to go anywhere else on the 4th of July.
THE BEER: Sixpoint Tallboys (Sixpoint Craft Ales, Brooklyn, NY)
Not to take anything away from the next four pairings, but come summer, really all I want to do is listen to music and drink canned beer on a Brooklyn roof somewhere. Enter Sixpoint tallboys! Previously all-draft, Sixpoint’s May announcement that they’d started canning was big news for Brooklyn beer drinkers — the consistently great taste of one of the borough’s best breweries combined with the casual allure of cans. Plus aluminum is far more appropriate than glass in precarious rooftop situations [Especially ones, like mine, that involve climbing a ladder. — Laura]. Sixpoint is now distributing four of their beers in 16-ounce cans — Sweet Action, Righteous Ale, The Crisp and Bengali Tiger IPA — all of which are on the lighter side and ideal for summer.


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THE SONG: The Breeders, “Cannonball”
A lyric from this song inspired the name of the album it’s on, The Breeders’ 1993 LP Last Splash. Even though the video follows around an actual cannonball (erm, likely a bowling ball in disguise), the energy and the underwater singing/whistling will always make me think of bratty kids doing cannonballs into a public pool, splashing everyone around them.
THE BEER: My Antonia (Dogfish Head, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware)
Agreed: “Cannonball” reminds me of the reckless side of summer, as does Dogfish Head’s bold take on a Pilsner. It’s bigger and brasher than the traditional Czech and German originals: more sweetness, more hoppiness, and — at 7.5% ABV — more alcohol. It’s all fun-loving bluster like the track’s prominent, awesomely-’90s bass line.


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THE SONG: Yellow Ostrich, “WHALE”
Yellow Ostrich — aka guitarist/vocalist Alex Schaaf, multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez and drummer Michael Tapper — make music that’s bright and breezy; especially this track from their LP The Mistress (which was self-released online, then put out exclusively through eMusic Selects, and soon it’ll see a proper release through Barsuk). Schaaf uses vocal and guitar loops to tell a story about swimming “far into the blue” with a whale, and he has other animal-inspired tracks that are equally whimsical.
THE BEER: Field Mouse’s Farewell (Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, Cambridge, Mass.)
Yellow Ostrich builds complexity from simple components. Low-key vocal loops and minimalist percussion merge into an awesomely catchy summer trance; Pretty Things’ equally approachable yet intricately-crafted Field Mouse’s Farewell is the perfect pairing. This refreshing, rustic ale is brewed with rye, oats, wheat and barley and should please even casual beer drinkers — but beer geeks will appreciate the perfectly balanced spice, lemony tartness and touch of fruity banana. And like a song about swimming with a whale, the folks at Pretty Things don’t take themselves too seriously — the label features a field mouse hitting the road with an over-the-shoulder satchel, hobo style.


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THE SONG: Architecture in Helsinki, “Escapee”
On their recent LP Moment Bends, Architecture in Helsinki shed some of their super-twee roots in favor of pure dance-pop — and it’s a great fit. “Escapee” is perfect for a summer party, with lyrics about looking at constellations on a rooftop, getting out the dark, and escaping.
THE BEER: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany)
Hefeweizens — a German beer variety brewed with wheat in addition to barley — tend to be light, refreshing and nice and dry. Hence, they’re perfect for warm weather. Like AiH’s high-energy, bubbly dance pop, this classic take on the style is effervescent and bright with hints of banana and clove. Just don’t try to pronounce it.


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THE SONG: Wild Nothing, “Summer Holiday”
“Summer Holiday,” from Wild Nothing’s excellent 2010 debut Gemini, is a reverb-soaked love song about vacationing to a lover’s parents’ house and having to sleep in their brother’s bedroom, during which frontman Jack Tatum sings, “Won’t you sneak into my room and climb under the covers, talk nonsense in your sleep?”
THE BEER: Sorachi Ace (Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY)
Virginia college music isn’t all Dave Matthews jammery: Wild Nothing founder and Virginia Tech alum Jack Tatum’s songwriting brings to mind Morrissey and doesn’t include a single 10-minute electric violin solo. It’s sophisticated and moody yet approachable and Sorachi Ace is a great match. This beer is seriously amazing — one of Brooklyn Brewery’s best. It’s super dry, spicy and complex with an earthy edge and a summery burst of intense carbonation.

Drinking Tunes: Spring Beer + Music


(Jessica Lea Mayfield at Glasslands in Brooklyn, March 30, 2011)

Earlier this week it was in the 30s. It’s still in the 30s-to-40s and the next couple of days are going to be rainy and gross. So this post, like this week’s recipe, is some wishful thinking: Maybe drinking enough springy beers will make the cold go away?

I wrote a few words about five songs that get me in the mood for spring, and my friend Bret Stetka, who writes about food and drinks for Time Out New York, Metromix and MSN.com (he also has a doughnut blog — yes, a doughnut blog), paired them each with a beer that complements the music and the mood, and explained why they work together.



http://listen.grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: Jessica Lea Mayfield, “Blue Skies Again”
21-year-old Ohioan Jessica Lea Mayfield made one of my favorite albums so far this year (Tell Me, released on Nonesuch and produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach), and this is one of its best tracks. It’s about getting over heartbreak in the context of the seasons changing from winter to spring.
Key lyrics: “This heart of mine/ Is ready for the spring/ Open up my window/ Winter bird, take wing”

THE BEER: Saison de Lente (The Bruery; Placentia, CA)
Saisons are made for spring, literally. They were first brewed by Belgian farmers in the winter for spring and summer consumption, and they’re far and away my favorite style of beer. They tend to be light and refreshing, yet spicy and full of flavor and Jessica Lea Mayfield’s ode to spring calls for the The Bruery’s Californian twist on the style (complete with a pink psychedelic Easter egg on the label). The beer starts with a somber sour foundation, much like the song’s moody intro. Then it blows wide open — a crisp, effervescent refresher perfect for Mayfield’s breezy, springy chorus: “Suddenly I can see blue skies again.”


http://listen.grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: Big Star, “In The Street”
Most of Big Star’s music feels best during the warmer seasons, but “In The Street” in particular perfectly embodies spring, with lyrics about hanging out with friends and driving around aimlessly with no worries.

THE BEER: Estate Homegrown Ale (Sierra Nevada; Chico, CA)
This song calls for a big, bold West Coast IPA — something with energy and intensity, but also a drinkable, major-key disposition. Sierra’s Estate Ale is aggressively hoppy and pleasantly bitter, the beery equivalent of Alex Chilton’s awesomely squawky screech. And the simple, nectary fruitiness holding it all together? Cowbell!


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THE SONG: The National, “Apartment Story”
The National have never been known for their happy-go-lucky disposition. This one is about sinking into a winter depression with the idea that once it hits spring, everything might get a bit better.
Key lyrics: “Tired and wired we ruin too easy/ Sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave.”

THE BEER: Arabier (De Dolle; Esen, Belgium)
The National require something a bit darker and moodier than the usual spring sippers. Something brooding but slightly optimistic. De Dolle’s Arabier is a strong pale ale with an earthy, funky dark side and a dreary, rainy day haziness. But loads of bubbly carbonation and a bright citrus flavor hint at sandals and sunlight.


http://listen.grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: The New Pornographers, “The Crash Years”
The New Pornographers are the quintessential sunny-day band, thanks to A.C. Newman’s affinity for bright, multi-voiced choruses and Neko Case’s reedy wail. “The Crash Years” takes the cake, though, mostly because of its umbrella-filled music video. Directed by Sammy Rawal, it shows an aerial view of meticulously-choreographed pedestrians walking through a cobblestone courtyard pushing strollers, riding bikes, carrying ladders and walking under umbrellas.

THE BEER: Bräu Weisse (Ayinger; Aying, Germany)
Here I think we need something crisp, upbeat and approachable to match the band’s sharply-written indie pop. There also needs to be big payoff in terms of flavor, and despite that aggressive umlaut over the “a,” this bubbly hefeweizen is Pornographers-perfect. It’s light, citrusy and super spicy. Plus the idyllic German cottage on the bottle seems like a relaxing place to stay come spring.


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THE SONG: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, “Walking To Do”
This song is, in part, about making things happen on your own instead of waiting for religion to provide all the answers, but it’s also simply about living life and working through whatever gets thrown your way — which is a perfect attitude to have at the start of a new season. It’s also about walking, which is a lot easier to do after snow is gone! It’s one of my favorite Ted Leo songs, and one of his most energizing.
Key lyrics: “And if we stay on our feet, we’ll make it in our own time/ And though the road has got some steep climbs, I believe we’ll be fine”

THE BEER: Jack D’Or (Pretty Things; Cambridge, MA)
Ted Leo’s brand of straight-ahead indie rock, with its sharp Elvis Costello confidence, generally puts me in a good mood. As does Jack D’or, another perfectly springy saison. It’s dry and crispwith big spice, just like Leo’s high-energy treble-rich tune.