Free Borracho show at the Pinch

Borracho at the Pinch

This Saturday, the 18th of May 2013, DC’s own stoner metal riff masters Borracho will be headlining a free concert at the Pinch in Columbia Heights! And this isn’t just any show, it’s also a beer release show! The awesome folks over at Port City Brewery, based in Alexandria, Virginia, have worked with the guys in Borracho to make the band their own signature beer! The Borracho Smokin’ Brown Ale is, as the name suggests, a smoked brown ale. The ale was made with an alcohol percentage of 6.66%, which is fitting for a metal band whose name translates from Spanish to mean a drunk or lush. The supply of this beer is extremely limited and won’t be sold in any stores. In fact it may be gone by the end of the night, so be sure to get out to this show if you want to try it. In addition to the beer being on draft at the show, there will also be lots of free prizes given out to people who attend. I’ll have a pair of tickets to see Kylesa at the Rock & Roll Hotel on June 19th up for grabs and there will be other prizes as well including merch from Borracho and Port City and also a growler (a 60 oz jug) full of the Borracho Smokin’ Brown Ale that one winner will get to take home! The growler is being provided by D’vines, an excellent beer/liquor/wine store also in Columbia Heights that even fills beer growlers on site.

So here’s some details about the show. Doors open at 8pm and it’s all ages. Obviously you’ve gotta be 21 with an ID to drink. The venue is called The Pinch (address and map here) and it’s in Columbia Heights, which is a pretty nice neighborhood in Washington DC. There’s street parking but unlike some of the hotter areas in DC, like U St and H St, the parking is pretty ample even on a Saturday night and since it’s a good area you don’t have to worry about your car. The Pinch is also metro accessible, you can take the yellow or green line to the Columbia Heights stop and the venue is about half a mile north on 14th Street from the station’s exit (see it on a map here). The Pinch has a pretty normal bar/restaurant upstairs but the show will be taking place in the downstairs level since that’s where the stage is. The stairs down are right by the front door, you can’t miss them. There’s also another bar downstairs so you won’t have to keep going back and forth all night.

There are going to be four stoner metal bands playing this free show and, in addition to Borracho headlining, there will be sets by Cortez from Boston, Wasted Theory from Delaware and the new project of Dave Sherman (of Earthride and Spirit Caravan fame) named Weed Is Weed from Maryland. You can check out any of those bands by clicking their names of course, and be sure to watch the awesome Borracho videos that I’ve embedded below. You can also get more info on the Facebook event page for this show here.

Metal Night III at Port City Brewery

Metal Night III at Port City Brewery

This Sunday, April 7th, 2013, I’ll be co-hosting the third metal night at Port City Brewery in Alexandria from 5 to 9pm! I’ve got over 15 tickets to give away at Metal Night III to see upcoming shows by Anthrax, Death, Suffocation, Ghost and Mayhem Fest! And while there won’t be any bands playing live there will be metal played throughout the brewery all during the event. In fact, you can send in your own song requests ahead of time to get them added to the set list by emailing Port City brewer and metal head Will at Will@PortCityBrewing.com Requests can be any sub-genre of metal, even the extreme ones are ok. If you’ve got a classic metal favorite, some weird underground metal band’s song you never thought you’d hear in public or just want to promote your own local metal band, then send in your request to hear it at Metal Night!

And did I mention the beer? Port City makes some damn fine beer and in their tasting room. They sell it by the glass (or growler if you want to take it home) for cheaper than most bars sell their crappy mass produced beer for (more on that here in my previous post about beer and metal). You can even get a “flight” of smaller glasses to sample several of the beers to help you figure out what you like. Since the event ends at 9pm you can still get home before it gets too late, we gotta work Mondays too. There isn’t a kitchen at Port City Brewery but there will be a food truck on site. Also, the local power metal band A Sound Of Thunder will be there to raise money for the local fests Flight Of The Valkyries and Metal Quest so keep an eye out for them as well.

Admission is free to Metal Night and I encourage you to share this post or the Facebook event page (here) with your metal head friends. You don’t have to be 21 to attend but you must be 21 to drink. Designated drivers of all legal driving ages are welcome! If you’ve never been to Port City Brewing Company before, the address is 3950 Wheeler Ave, Alexandria, VA 22304 (map).

It will be a great night of sampling some excellent craft beer while listening to some killer metal tunes with friends new and old. Now think up which songs you want to hear at Metal Night III and get ready to win some prizes!

Beer & Metal

I’m a big fan of metal (as you already know) and I’m a fan of beer as well so I thought this would be a fun post to put together. First off I’d like to say, if you’re under 21 then this post isn’t for you. If you’ve got issues with alcoholism and are trying to stay sober, this post is also not for you. There’s no shame in avoiding things that aren’t working for you in your life. And of course this post isn’t meant to encourage drunk driving of any kind, be safe out there if you’re drinking. Now those of you still here get comfortable, crack open a cold one and get ready to learn about beer and how it relates to metal in more ways than you may think.

I know a lot of you like metal bands that aren’t huge. I know this because I see you at metal shows around the area at smaller clubs, in Ethiopian restaurants, at house shows and other places that aren’t exactly the size of the Verizon Center or Jiffy Lube Live. I guess my point is, I know that you metal heads understand that good or even great music doesn’t Jester King Black Metal Beerhave to come from a giant band on a corporate record label with millions of dollars to spend on marketing. And judging by the fact you’re even reading this site, you have probably realized that great music, while it can, it doesn’t usually come from the biggest corporate bands at all. With this post I’d like to show you that the same is true for beer. Right now we’re in the middle of the “craft beer revolution,” a giant explosion of independent beer makers popping up all over the country that are making all kinds of great new beers and experimenting with new ingredient combinations and flavors. The beer snob in me is at metal shows, often with some really great underground bands playing, sees many if not most of you drinking the same old corporate swill and I’d like to take this time to help edjumakate you all on some of the awesome beers that are actually out there right now by using the similarities between the beer world and the metal world that you are (hopefully) already familiar with.

The current beer industry and music, metal in particular, are actually pretty similar in a lot of ways. In both cases you have a market that is dominated by giant corporations that have huge advertising budgets and the general public seems to buy whatever is advertised the most in the mainstream media. The mega brands like Budweiser, MGD, Coors, Heinekin and Corona are, in my world of beer/music comparisons, like the Katy Perrys, Justin Biebers, and Rihannas of the music world. And those “off brands” like PBR aren’t much different than Taylor Swift is to Katy Perry. In the case of both music and beer, these major names are all just mass produced light fluff with no real depth that often resort to using sexuality to sell a product which shouldn’t need to if it was actually good in the first place. And when scantily clad women aren’t enough the marketing teams for both will often resort to lame gimmicks to drum up sales. Examples of lame gimmicks in the beer world are things like the label on the can turningMiller Lite Vortex Bottle blue when its cold, a “vortex bottle” and using the term “frost brewed,” a term that means nothing since boiling is a part of the process of making any kind of beer. This lame crap is part of why the so called craft beer revolution has been going on the past few years now, gaining more steam with each passing year. Some would say this sudden growth in micro breweries was kicked off by Sam Adams, which is sort of the gateway beer to all the other craft beers. I think of them as being sort of like Metallica, they aren’t underground by any means, you can find Sam Adams in virtually any store that sells beer, but they also don’t dominate sales like the really big names I mentioned earlier. However, Metallica is the metal band that many a metal head heard first that then gets them into more metal. Sam Adams is like that for many beer drinkers as well due to their many style varieties and seasonal brews which are available in most grocery stores. People often start trying new kinds of Sam Adams beers which can lead to trying other smaller brands as well. If you’re reading this blog then it’s pretty likely that at some point you started looking more into metal bands and before long you realized there’s a ton of independent record labels out there with all kinds of different sub genres of not just metal but other styles of music as well. This is what the craft beer revolution is like, people waking up and realizing that there are tons of small breweries out there experimenting and putting out all kinds of new beers, things the major companies wouldn’t dare to try. You don’t have to listen to just the major label music any more, and you don’t have to just drink the mega corporate beer brands either!

Like the dozens of splintering sub-genres of metal, there’s all kinds of new types of beer coming out. India Pale Ales, also known as IPAs, are all the rage right now in the craft brew world. The beers are light (they are pale ales after all) DC Brau On The Wings Of Armageddonand bitter to differing degrees. This is because originally the beer that was being shipped by boat to British soldiers stationed in India were given loads of preservatives which left the beer tasting bitter. The soldiers grew accustomed to this bitter taste and when they came back home they wanted more of this beer, and so the Brits started brewing it at home too. Personally, I think IPAs are fine but the market seems to be getting saturated with them. It’s hard to find a brewery that doesn’t make one and I’m starting to get the sense that they all feel obliged to even if that isn’t what they want to specialize in just because IPAs are so popular right now. For my money though, I prefer my beer to be like my metal, dark and heavy! That’s why you’ll often see me drinking malty beers like stouts and porters. However, there are dozens of different styles of beer to choose from these days: fruity and crisp, bitter, chocolatey, smoked, oak and bourbon barrel aged variations, barley wines, ambers, and many more. Sometimes you’ll see “seasonal” beers being sold, which usually means they’re only made at certain times. An example of this is a pumpkin beer released in the autumn. There’s also “limited release” beers which are often just a one time batch and once they’re gone they’re gone for good never to be brewed again.

A trip to the beer aisle at one of the bigger Total Wine stores in the area is reminiscent of heading to Tower Records in the old days. The selection is almost overwhelming and the variety can’t be beat. You can find underground stuff, local brews and even a variety of exotic imports from not just Europe but the entire world. You can make your own six packs at Total Wine to sample whatever catches your eye. Like concert tickets, a higher price doesn’t always mean a better product and I often enjoy finding out which beers are the best tasting for the lowest price. Another great place to start trying new beer is the World Of Beer bar in Arlington, Virginia. They have 50 beers on tap, most of which rotate out regularly, and if that’s not enough for you they also have literally hundreds of different beers from all over the world kept cold in bottles. I was there once and some popped-collar, sandal wearing bro next to me asked the bartender for a Bud Light. The bartender just laughed at him and told him they don’t carry that. Now that’s my kind of bar! So if Total Wine is the Tower Records of beer, then what would be the Metal Archives? That would be Beer Advocate, a site that indexes and reviews almost every beer, plenty of which you’ve never even heard of. They also have user reviews and a very active user community. And if you’re Orkney Brewery Skull Splitter looking for some beers with a more “metal” image then check out the beers by Stone, such as Arrogant Bastard, which features a demon on the bottles (and some hilarious text on the back as well). Then there is Avery Brewing which offers a whole line of expensive but very delicious beers named after demons such as Samael and Mephistopheles. There’s also Skull Splitter Ale by Orkney Brewery which has a viking on the label and would definitely be more appropriate to drink than a shitty Natty Boh while blasting some Amon Amarth.

Of course there’s plenty of local breweries you can visit, take a tour and sample the beer fresh from the source. They often have “flights” of beers, which are really just small glasses for sampling several beers together. This can be very helpful in finding out which styles of beer you like best and they’re usually pretty cheap, similar to how a promotional playlist can let you check out several bands. If you find a beer you like you can buy a big 64oz jug called a growler usually for under $10. You can fill up a growler with beer at DC Brauthe brewery (for an additional cost) and bring the jug home, though you usually want to drink their contents in a day or two. Wash the growler and bring it back, or to another brewery, and fill it up again. Since they hold about a six pack’s worth of beer they’re also good for bringing to parties. For those of you who want to take things further and not just drink other people’s beer you can hit up places like the Local Home Brew Store (LHBS for short) in Falls Church, Virginia, where they sell equipment and supplies to brew your own beer at home. They’re pretty friendly there and will not only help you get started, but they’ll talk some metal with you too as they’ve got some metal heads running the place. I think of home brewing as the beer equivalent of starting your own garage band.

Something to look out for as you sample new micro brews are the faux craft beers, or crafty beers as they are sometimes called. These are brands like Shock Top, Blue Moon and Goose Island that are marketed and packaged to look like craft beers, but they are in fact owned by major corporations Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. The major brands have definitely noticed this trend toward craft beer and are trying to cash in on it as well by tricking the ignorant public into thinking that their strategically marketed beers with micro-brew styled packaging are actual micro brews. Check out the ridiculous Blue Moon commercial below that aims to make you think it is some small craft beer, when in fact they are mass produced in huge facilities by Miller! This would be like if Metallica put out a crappy album with some underground legend like Lou Reed in an attempt to prove their underground credibility. Oh wait…

Now I’d like to focus a bit on the local beer scene, where beer and metal are as closely intertwined as anywhere else I can think of. If you’re looking for the beer drinker’s equivalent of DCHeavyMetal.com then you should really check out DCBeer.com as they cover the area’s local beer scene like no one else. This week the 30th annual Craft Brewers Conference is in DC (they pick a different city every year) and because of that there are tons of events going on all over the area right now where you can try rare and exotic craft brews. DCBeer.com has made a great list of these special events here.

We’re pretty damn lucky in this area because we’ve got not one but two local breweries in the DC area that have metal heads working there, that I know of at least. DC Brau is based in North East Washington, DC and they often put out beers with names that sound like they could be metal song titles, such as On The Wings Of Armageddon and Embers Of The Deceased. DC Brau is the first beer brewery inside the District since 1956. Port City Brewery in Alexandria, Virginia doesn’t really have many metal sounding beer names but they do brew a lot of their beer while listening to metal bands. Port City’s assistant brewer Will often writes on the big fermenting tanks Port City Maniacalwhat he was listening to when brewing the beer and I’ve seen bands like Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and Nile on them in the past. On Sunday, April 7th, Port City will be holding a third metal night at the brewery, and I’ll be there co-hosting the event and giving away tickets to upcoming metal shows in the area like Anthrax, Death and Ghost. If you’re beer drinking age then come down and sample some of their craft brews, hang out with fellow metal heads and listen to some heavy metal all night. More details on that event are posted here. I kind of think of DC Brau and Port City as the area’s local “metal” breweries, however there are plenty of other breweries around the area including Chocolate City Beer and Three Stars Brewing in DC, Devils Backbone, Star Hill and Blue Mountain Brewery in Virginia, Flying Dog, Union Craft Brewing and Heavy Seas in Maryland, and even Dogfish Head in Delaware. There’s also several brewpubs popping up in the area like Lost Rhino and Mad Fox, both in Northern Virginia, Brewer’s Art in Baltimore and Blue Jacket which will be opening up in DC this summer.

You’ve all probably seen photos floating around on the net of various metal bands with their own branded beers. Iron Maiden has one, Motörhead has one, Amon Amarth has one, Ozzy Osbourne has one, hell even Queensrÿche guitarist Michael Wilton has brewed a beer with his nickname, Whip Ale. The local metal bands have gotten in on this trend as well. New Belgium, the makers of Fat Tire Ale, put out an official Clutch Dark Sour Ale in 2011. Port City will be putting out a beer for local stoner metal band Borracho soon, and I hear word that DC Brau is working on one for Darkest Hour. Indiana based 3 Floyds Brewery is Three Floyds Permanent Funeral Pale Alemaking a Pig Destroyer beer called the Permanent Funeral Pale Ale and as part of the previously mentioned Craft Brewers Conference being in town they’re having a beer release party for it! Locals Pig Destroyer and Darkest Hour will both be playing the release party on the Black Cat’s main stage this Friday (details here) and they’ll have plenty of Permanent Funeral Pale Ale on hand to drink too! In fact, as a special reward to those of you who have read this entire article (I know it hasn’t been my shortest) I’d like to offer you the chance to win a free pair of tickets to the Permanent Funeral release show. Just leave a comment on this post letting me know of a beer you think I should try (I’m always looking for new beers to try out) and at 5pm EST Thursday, March 28th, 2013 I’ll pick one of you at random (using Random.org) to get a pair of tickets to this beer release show. Be sure you use an email you check regularly when you enter so I can contact you because I’ll need a quick response to make sure I have your name for the tickets. Please don’t enter if you cannot attend. Thanks for reading everyone and I hope I’ve convinced a few of you to try out some new and/or local beers. Stop drinking the corporate crap that is everywhere, I know you metal heads can do better!

Heavy Metal Night II at Port City Brewery

This Friday, the 16th of November, the Port City Brewery in Alexandria, Virginia, is having their second ever metal night and I’m inviting you to get your ass down there and have some beers with me. Port City’s assistant brewer, Will, is a big metal head and brews much of the beer they make while blasting metal on the stereo so he figured why not have a bunch of metal heads over to listen to metal and drink that same beer. There won’t be any bands playing live but there will be a mix of all kinds of metal playing the entire night. In fact, you can send Will songs to add to the playlist right now via Twitter at @PCBCBrewMetal OR via email at will@portcitybrewing.com. So if you know some obscure black metal song that you’ve always wished you could hear in public or if you just want to give your band a little more exposure, this is a great way to do it. The event starts at 8pm and will run until 1:30am. If you’ve never been to Port City Brewing Company before, the address is 3950 Wheeler Ave, Alexandria, VA 22304 (map).

To make this event even better, I’ll be there all night holding a raffle that anyone who shows up can enter (no purchase necessary, in fact, designated drivers get two entries!) and I’ll be giving prizes out throughout the night. What prizes you ask? Well, for starters I’ll be giving out tickets to several upcoming metal shows, including High On Fire at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Nov 23rd as well as Clutch at the 9:30 Club on December 26th. Oh, and some of you might have heard that Lamb Of God, In Flames and Hatebreed are playing the Fillmore in Silver Spring the night after this metal night. I’ll be giving away a pair of tickets to that show as well, but to sweeten the deal the winner of the tickets will also get a special meet and greet with the band backstage the night of the show! That’s right, you can’t buy a meet & greet VIP ticket for this show but you can win one from DCHM at Port City this Friday on metal night! In addition there will be other prizes given out, like one of the brand new King Giant zip up hoodies (seen right) and some sweet Port City merch as well. You guys know I love giving free stuff to metal heads!

But wait, there’s more! This Friday night will also be this year’s debut of the Port City Brewery seasonal holiday beer, Tidings. It’s brewed with honey and spices and has a 7.8% alcohol content so it has some bite. You’ll be one of the first to get to try this year’s batch and of course you can also drink any of the other Port City beers which will be on tap all night. It should be noted that the Port City brewery is not like the Dogfish Head or Capital City breweries, it isn’t a restaurant and does not serve food. However there will be a food truck there, Borinquen Lunch Box, serving Puerto Rican food til 10pm or so. While you’re there you can also take a tour of the brewery to learn exactly how this local operation works.

In summary, it should be a really awesome night! You get to hang out with lots of the area’s metal heads, drink some great locally brewed beer (priced cheaper than most bars sell crap beer for!), enter to win some awesome prizes ALL while listening to a killer metal playlist that you can even add songs to! There’s no cover and of course you’ve got to be over 21 to drink. You must be on premises to win the prizes (so if you leave and they call your number, someone else gets it), and the final drawing will be held around midnight or so. Please tell your friends about this (there’s a Facebook Event Page here that anyone can join and invite others) because a good turn out will mean more metal nights in the future. Will is working hard to make a place for metal heads to hang out, talk about metal and network on nights when there isn’t a big show in town but it can’t be done without you showing up and supporting. I hope to see a lot of you there!

Recap of Clutch and Suplecs gigs

On Sunday the 18th of September I had two shows I was trying to catch live. The first was a special free show that the Frederick, Maryland based band Clutch was holding at the Red Palace. This show was listed as a special five song acoustic set that was part of a promotional “release party” for their own beer, Clutch Dark Sour Ale, from New Belgium Brewing. The show was originally scheduled for Monday August 29th but it was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. This night everything seemed to work out ok though. The people from the Colorado based craft brewery, most famous for their Fat Tire Amber Ale, were mingling in the audience who had gathered. I have bought a few of the Clutch beers already, and they’re actually pretty damn good. They’re dark but with a sour taste that builds up the further you get into the 22 oz bottle, sort of like how some spicy foods’ heat builds up with the more of it you eat. It’s not a fruity sour though and is not actually very sweet at all (which I think is a good thing). I recommend trying it if you can find yourself a bottle. At this concert however, they were selling the bottles for $20! I still had a bottle in my fridge at home that I bought for $7.99 at Total Wine so there was no way I was going to fork out that much cash just to drink one at the Red Palace. Hell, even Clutch’s Neil Fallon said on stage that he was drinking a competitor’s beer.

Clutch at the Red Palace

The show started with the one of the guys from New Belgium Brewing taking the mic on stage and introducing the band as well as presenting them with the bottle that had serial number 10001110101. That’s the name of one of the songs on Clutch’s 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus. The guys then went into their setlist, starting off with and “acoustic” version of The Regulator. While guitarist Tim Sult played an acoustic guitar, they were all using pick ups, pedals and amps, so don’t think this performance was something like those old MTV Unplugged specials. What made the show cool was that the Red Palace only holds about 200 people, and Clutch is a band that usually plays much larger venues, they had just played at the HFStival the day before at Merriweather Post Pavilion. However this night the band played their five song set and pleased the crowd by having Tim plug in his regular guitar before playing a new song, apparently titled Newt. They played a few more songs, sort of a best hits style thing with songs covering their back catalog and ending with Elephant Riders. In all they played for about an hour and it was a fun show and a great chance to catch Clutch up close.

Clutch at the Red Palace

When Clutch had finished I didn’t linger around for too long since I had another show to catch at the Velvet Lounge. I made a stop at the 9:30 Club‘s basement bar for a quick bite to eat just before they closed their kitchen. Apparently they had some Mexican band playing upstairs named Molotov, but luckily the 9:30 Club has a separate door on the side of the building you can enter the bar at if you don’t want watch the show. The bartender down there was wearing a Clutch shirt and he said he was pissed he had to work that night because he had wanted to see the show at the Red Palace. Anyways, I had a nice panini and an organic oatmeal stout and then I walked around the corner to the Velvet Lounge.

The Velvet Lounge had a pretty sweet line up this evening. They haven’t been getting a lot of metal shows of note lately but this one definitely stood out on their calendar. The headliner was the New Orleans based sludge band Suplecs and they were touring with the Columbus, Ohio band Lo-Pan. Shows at the Velvet Lounge tend to run late but even so I missed the first band on the bill, Weed Is Weed from Maryland. The band has two former Spirit Caravan members in its ranks, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom. I hope to catch them another time. The first band I saw play at the Velvet Lounge that evening was Lo-Pan. I’ve never seen a band’s lead singer stand all the way to the back of the stage before. I mean way back, he was even behind the drummer. Despite their strange stage positions, they were pretty good live. They made for a good opener act on this kind of tour. They wrote their set list on pages torn out of some porno magazine, certainly the most graphic set list stationary of the night.

Lo-Pan at the Velvet Lounge

After Lo-Pan finished their set local act Nitroseed performed. Typically an instrumental band, they played several of their songs with lyrics at this show. I’d never seen them live before but I was very impressed, certainly worth checking out if you see them listed as an opener at an upcoming show. Also, it turns out their drummer, Phil Adler, also plays in the local doom band Wooly Mammoth. Their music had some good energy and they kept the momentum rolling forward throughout their set. They finished up and the last band of the night was next, Suplecs.

Nitroseed at the Velvet Lounge

Suplecs is from New Orleans and they mentioned many times between songs that they were excited to be playing in front of a DC audience as they were big fans of the DC doom metal scene. The band was good live, they had some high energy parts but also slowed it down for a few songs. Their songs really had a dynamic range to them that many sludge bands simply don’t have. This kept the show interesting and fresh throughout their set, which is a really good thing after watching three bands with a similar sound earlier in the evening. They mentioned that this was the first time they played their song Pissing In The Wind on the East Coast. They closed their set with a cover. After all their praise for DC’s metal scene I thought for sure they’d play a Pentagram or Spirit Caravan song, or something similar at least. Nope, they played Working Man by Rush. Totally out of left field if you ask me. It was ok but really didn’t seem to fit into their set that well. Regardless, I will definitely go see them again if they come through the area another time, and you should too!

Suplecs at the Velvet Lounge

If you’d like to see more images from the bands I saw that night you can see them on my Flickr page here. And be sure to check out all the videos below of Clutch, Nitroseed and Suplecs. The first four are Clutch. The first one is acoustic and the second is their new song. The last two videos are of Suplecs, the last of which is their Rush cover. Thanks to the guys in King Giant for the beers and thanks to you for reading all of this. Stay metal everyone!

Clutch acoustic:

Clutch’s new song:

Clutch with extended drum solo:

Clutch with guitar solo:

Nitroseed:

Suplecs:

Suplecs covering Rush: