Archives for July 2010

Brewing Beer and Making Music

Fellow brewers at Upslope Brewing finishing up "Key Note Wit" (left to right: Matt Cutter, Kyle Hollingsworth, Chad Pieper)

Once in a while, as a result of following your passion, your path will cross with another, following a different passion. Because you are both, obviously passionate, a mutual respect is shared  no matter what  each has come to pursue.  This is a story about what happens when passions collide.

I  fell into  a unique opportunity to homebrew with a rock star. My introduction to the world of jam bands was not with the Grateful Dead or Phish, it was with the String Cheese Incident. When the music is right, and the audience and band are sharing this undescribable vibe, a temporary experience, in this case an “incident”, erupts and transforms you to a hightened state of emotion. If you don’t understand  what I’m talking about, then go experience it for yourself.

Kyle Hollingsworth has been homebrewing since his brother passed on his homebrewing kit when  he was 18. At first, it was all about making beer when you couldn’t buy it, but over the years it became a passion that would ebb and flow with the desires and demands of his music. But just like setting aside that guitar when life got hectic and picking it up again when the time was right, it never left him.

Until Kyle came to the Upslope Tap Room one morning and shared his thoughts and experiences, I never really considered the parallels between brewing beer and making music. We set a course for a recipe. What should we brew? What could we create that would be worthy of Kyle’s Brew Fest?

As we were creating this “not your father’s Oldsmobile” Belgian Wit, the ideas started flowing. What kind of yeast? Let’s talk spices. What kind of flavors would elderberry give? What if we introduced a different spice at every part of the process? Let’s create a base malt and a separate  adjuct malt that we would blend mid-mash. Chad threw a little history at us about how the Belgians would often blend mashes 1/3rd at a time. It’s old world, but worthy.

Creating a homebrew from a recipe in a book is one thing. An admirable thing. Taking some basic knowledge and creating a recipe with a myriad of malt, hops, spices, and this crazy old-school mini-mash is a whole different deal. You’re going for broke. You’re either going to be   a hero or   a bum. This exact concept also applies to music. Kyle says that it is so.

Kyle, Chad and I put ourselves out there on this extended musical jam. The resulting   Belgian Wit was spiced 3 times at different points in the brewing process: coriander in the mash, orange peel in the kettle, and chamomile during fermentation. What we ended up with was a light, sun-kissed, flavorful wheat that very gently teases you with light spices throughout the tastebud dance.

Come experience this and other homebrew collaborations with Kyle at Kyle’s Brew Fest, July 22nd at the Great Divide Brewing Company.