Fresh off the back of my previous column’s focus on music venues that have quality beer selections, I got an email announcing Revolution Brewing is doing a collaboration beer with the Chicago-based band Chevelle in anticipation of Lollapalooza next weekend.
Revolution teamed up with Chevelle’s frontman, Pete Loeffler, to brew a helles-style lager called La Gargola in honor of their upcoming album release of the same name. I used to listen to Chevelle probably around the time their first album came out. I saw them live around that time, too, when they opened for Disturbed in Peoria.
It was a good show as far as I can remember, but it was also in 2003. I was surprised to hear of this collaboration, but I have nothing but good feelings toward the band and love any new thing Revolution jumps into, so I am excited to see what they come up with.
Helles style lagers are fantastic beers, and in capable hands such as Rev’s, I think it’ll be great. This collaboration got me thinking about other brewery-musician collaborations that are out there for this late summer column recommending outstanding beers.
The next beer that jumps out at me as far as musicians collaborating with breweries goes is another Chicago-based brewery collaborating with a band for a Chicago summer music festival is Goose Island’s Natural Villain. This beer originally was brewed last year in anticipation of Chicago’s ultra-trendy Pitchfork Festival in collaboration with the indie rock band Twin Peaks.
I drove to Chicago for this release although I was not familiar with Twin Peaks music. I listened to it on the way to meet up and was thoroughly impressed. Again, a group of gigging musicians decide to brew a clean, crisp lager when given the chance says everything you need to know about guys used to playing bars and music clubs drinking beer on the cheap. Natural Villain caught on so well because of this partnership that Goose Island decided to package this beer in 15-packs that you can find locally.
Metal giants Metallica recently collaborated with international brewing outfit Stone Brewing to brew up another rock-solid lager, Enter Night Pilsner, which a friend of mine and I shared cans of on the train up to Chicago for Country LakeShake back in June.
Stone’s Greg Koch and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich got together to talk beer and come up with something that could represent the brash reputations both Stone and Metallica have curried over the years. Enter Night is an homage to Metallica’s most famous Black Album, which featured the song “Enter Sandman,” in which the lyric that gives the beer its name is featured.
Metallica was easily one of my favorite bands growing up, which probably set the stage for Chevelle being an early musical influence on me as well. Yet again, bands of a certain type, when given the chance to brew anything they want, choose lager; here, Stone can’t help but dump hops into this particular beer, and what comes out is worth the price of admission. You can find Enter Night locally as well in six packs of 16-ounce cans no less.
The last beer I will mention is plus-1 from Surly Brewing Company. This beer is unique on a list such as this one because Surly didn’t just collaborate with a band for a beer — they collaborated with the venue itself. Surly and First Avenue wanted to make a beer that people would enjoy at a show, and they came up with a straight forward, easy drinking golden ale in a matte black can.
First Avenue is a historic music venue that inspired artists such as Prince and Morris Day and The Time in their rise to stardom. I included this particular beer on this list because Prince is one of my step-dad’s favorite bands and the fact that this is a collaboration not with Prince, but the music venue prominently featured in the movie “Purple Rain” is close enough for me.
La Gargola from Revolution Brewing
ABV: 4.8 percent
Style: Helles Lager
Notes: Classic hop character and some Pils malt; triple-decocted for a classic German malt backbone; clean bitterness.
Where to Buy: The brewpub on Milwaukee Avenue or the taproom on Kedzie Avenue in Chicago in 16-ounce pours.
Natural Villain from Goose Island Beer Company
ABV: 4.7 percent
Style: Garage Style Lager
Notes: Lightly bready qualities of this golden lager are balanced by a mild hop character that is simply refreshing.
Where to Buy: Anywhere craft beer is sold, such as Jewel, Target and other places, in 15-pack, 12-ounce cans for less than $15.
Enter Night Pilsner from Stone Brewing
ABV: 5.7 percent
Notes: Crisp and refreshing pilsner.
Where to Buy: Liquor World in Kankakee in six packs of 16-ounce cans for $14.