Edmonton musicians in tune with beer
The word itself is a musical note. It has helped write more songs than GarageBand and puberty combined. If it were a mountain, it would be named Mount St. Inspirational Liquid.
Edmonton bands are no stranger to this Mesopotamian concoction. Loved by both the refined and the rowdy, beer has a special place in the hearts of local musicians. Also their stomachs and livers. A recent poll of Edmonton artists revealed a staggering knowledge of the subject matter. They really know their beers here.
To some, favourites are embodied by financial circumstances. Braden Gates for example, enjoys the free flavour. “I’m a folk musician,” he explains. “So, if you could put my phone number in the story and tell people to call me to give me free beer, that would be swell.” (No, but click his name to visit his website; too bad you can’t e-mail beer.)
Local song hero Lindsay Walker was frank in her beer preference: “If I could have anything: Mill Street Vanilla Porter. It is smooth, creamy and dreamy. Does that sounds sexual? It’s not meant to be, but it could be – that’s how much I love this beer. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. It’s like a sweet high-five. You know, like one that really connects. Sweetly.”
Bluesy singer-pianist Jenie Thai is a fan of Pilsners, as they have the nostalgic upper hand. Unibroue’s Blanche De Chambly is her staple: “It’s super smooth, the citrus flavour isn’t overdone, and it makes me feel like a million bucks on a hot summer day. The brewer also seems like a super crazy and awesome dude.”
With the precision of a brewmaster, singer-songwriter Alex Vissia (top picture) gives a lesson in libation lineage: “I tried a stellar root beer in Kansas City recently from Root Sellers Brewery that tastes exactly like you would expect a great root beer to taste – but you’d never guess it was 6.7% alcohol. Those things are dangerous. If I were to choose an any time, any day, any place beer, it would have been the Alley Cat Full Moon Pale Ale, but that has now been reinvented into a full IPA (India Pale Ale). One of the biggest perks of going on tour is hitting up the local microbreweries along the way. So I guess on the topic of IPA’s, the Lil Scrapper IPA from Half Pints Brewery in Winnipeg wins my vote.”
For up-and-coming local recording trio F&M, the members Ryan and Rebecca Anderson, along with Bryan Reichert, share a bevvy of tastes which usually complement their surroundings. Also they aren’t afraid to rub it in that they travel abroad. “Our favourite beer is generally a Rhone red wine after the gig,” says Ryan Anderson. “But we do love the beers, too. Before and during a gig Bryan prefers a chocolate porter and I prefer a lighter Pilsner style beer. I find dark beers and red wine mess with my vocals. Rebecca states she prefers Portuguese Sagres overlooking the Douro Valley in Portugal, which we’re doing right now.”
For some artists functionality is key. Olivia Street of the bands Electric Religious, King of Foxes and aptly named Chronic Rock, likes to mix business and pleasure. “I’m a big fan of IPAs, but my go-to beer lately has been the Red Racer ISA (India Session Ale),” she says. “It’s a session ale at 4%, so you could potentially drink a few of them and not fall off the stage. Who knew 4% beers could have flavour? I also love Alley Kat’s Full Moon. We drink a lot of those at King of Foxes band practices. Great balance of hops, and we love supporting local.”
That sentiment is echoed by James Murdoch of the local country band The Dungarees. “I like a lot of beers but so many of them seem to change over time – am I crazy?” he asks. “Before Molson bought Granville Island Brewing, their beers were great. Even Big Rock was pretty good, but it’s gone to shit since their latest brewmaster left. I’m currently digging Red Racer, Ribstone Creek and my home province perpetual favourite: Yukon Brewing’s Bonanza Brown. Local breweries all the way!”
And then there are the connoisseurs, those whose palate is refined with a certain majestic loquaciousness.
“My favourite beer is Dieu de Ciel’s rosée d’hibiscus,” says jazzy local singer-songwriter Billie Zizi. “ Because it is gentle and delicious and imbues the world with just a touch more hilarity, confusion and merriment. Also it is pink.”
The stately singer-songwriter Ken Stead favours Neapolitan Stout from Saugatuk Brewery. “So good. You can taste vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate in every sip.”
There is even some insider information from the hip-hop crowd. Local rap artist MC Lovely likes a new beer from Molson Canadian called MadJack. “It’s an apple flavoured lager that is very tasty,” she says. “It is a hybrid child of cider and beer.”
Mike Dunn of the the hurtin’ country band Moanin’ After adds an air of sardonicism to his favourite brew. “I’ve always been partial to Big Rock Traditional,” he says. “It’s helped me make many reasonable and positive decisions in life.”
And then there’s Guinness – the beer, not the band. It can be served warm or cold. It gives you strength and, most importantly, not too many people like it so it is less likely to be stolen.
When it all comes down to it, beer of all types offer inspiration, libation, contemplation and sometimes frustration – and wherever you find musicians, you’re bound to find all of the above.