Metal and Beer collide!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but lately the worlds of craft beer and heavy metal have really been colliding, even more than they usually do. Last week the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) was held in DC. It’s a multi-day conference that is held in a different city each year and this year DC hosted it at the convention center. Craft brewers from around the country attend to take seminars and learn about new techniques and equipment they can brew with, as well as learn about how to better market their beer and other things like that. That’s great if you’re a brewer but for the rest of us CBC coming to town means a ton of side-events at bars and breweries in the area as our city hosts all these out of town brewers. Many breweries brought beers that normally aren’t distributed in our area but thanks to DC’s awesome beer distribution laws they can be sold in DC during the festival. That’s why so many bars had tap take overs from out of area breweries last week and so many of the specialty beer stores had beers from breweries that we never usually see around here.

Aside from exotic beers at Churchkey, Meridian Pint, Jack Rose and other places with CBC related events, there were a couple of metal shows during CBC week as well. DC Brau’s 6th anniversary happened to be during CBC week so they put together a one off show with Baroness at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, April 12th. The band put on a great performance and played many old songs since 2017 is the 10th anniversary of their first album. I had a photo pass and got to take a few shots right up front and you can see them below. Click here to see the full set on Flickr. I even made a couple into animated gifs!

John Baizley of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

John Baizley of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

Pete Adams of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

Baroness at the 9:30 Club

John Baizley of Baroness at the 9:30 Club

The following night, Thursday the 13th of April, I put on another metal night with my partner in crime Brewer Will over at Atlas Brew Works. We had live metal bands, concert ticket give aways, a lot of great beer and a ton of fellow metal heads in attendance. The Denver based black metal themed brewery Trve had three guest beers on tap and Atlas had some of their most “metal” brews pouring as well including The Emprosator, a doppelbock named for a Russian Circles album, HaSaWoDo, a saison named after the Bongripper album Hail Satan Worship Doom, and their collaboration with Champion Brewing made for Decibel Magazine, the Decibeer DIPA. Lots of brewers from outside the area (in town for CBC of course) stopped by including the gang from Metal Monkey Brewing in Chicago and Jester King in Austin. Lord, Cavern and headliner King Giant all put on excellent performances and you can catch a bit of each of their sets, and hear the guys in Lord and King Giant talk about their gear and rigs, in the below video that Guitar Guru Network posted on YouTube, shot entirely at the event. If you just want to see to the parts of the video with the bands performing live then skip to when Lord starts at 16:20, Cavern at 24:11 and King Giant at 46:25.

When CBC ended the beer and metal collision continued! On Monday, April 17th, another metal show came to Atlas Brew Works. Canadian black metal band Thantifaxath headlined the venue with local support by Myopic and Sickdeer. After talking to one of the mysterious and anonymous members of the band, I came to find out that he was also a beer brewer by trade! It was a really good turn out for a Monday night and Thantifaxath put on a hell of a show too. Below is a short clip I shot of them at the show.

Had to get some footage of Thantifaxath playing The Bright White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel.

A post shared by Metal Chris (@dcmetalchris) on

However the biggest beer and metal event ever held is going to be in Philadelphia this weekend when Decibel Magazine holds their first ever Metal & Beer Fest! This isn’t just a fest with some metal bands and some random breweries, Decibel has done a really good job of finding metal bands with ties to beer and breweries with ties to metal for this festival. For instance you’ll notice Khemmis is on the bill. Their drummer, Zach Coleman, is a brewer at Trve, which also happens to be a brewery pouring at the fest. Then there’s Panopticon on the bill, a band that masterfully blends black metal with bluegrass and has only ever played live once before. The band’s sole member, Austin Lunn, is also a brewer at Hammerheart Brewing in Minnesota, which is named after the classic 1990 album by Bathory. Municipal Waste is also on the bill and their drummer, Dave Witte, while not a brewer does find employment at the Ardent Craft Ales brewery in Richmond. Cigar City Brewing will be at the fest pouring their beer Divine Blasphemer, a smoked porter named after a Municipal Waste song.

There will be plenty of other beers with tie ins to metal at this festival as well. DC’s own Atlas is bringing HaSaWoDo, the aforementioned Bongripper tied in beer. Three Floyds, a brewery that has made official beers for many metal bands including Amon Amarth, Municipal Waste, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary, will be bringing their Permanent Funeral pale ale, named for a song by Pig Destroyer. Burnt Hickory Brewery will have their beer Charred Walls Of The Damned with them, named after the metal super group of the same name. Mikkeller, a brewery from Denmark, will have their Mother Puncher beer with them, named after a song by Mastodon. Trve is bringing their Nazareth IPA, named after the lyric from the Sleep song “Jerusalem.” Dave Mustaine of Megadeth will be at the fest on Saturday pouring his A Tout Le Monde beer from Unibroue (specifically from 5pm to 6:30 and 8:45 to 10). As you’ll notice some of these bands, like Sleep, Municipal Waste and Pig Destroyer, are actually playing the fest! Along with the bands like Khemmis and Panopticon that actually have brewers in them, this fest really is something special. It’s not a metal fest with lots of beer. It’s not a craft beer fest with some bands playing. It truly is a beer AND metal fest. To say I’m excited is an understatement, this is a festival for my two favorite things! I’ll be attending the fest with a press pass so check back for my coverage after I recover from what I can only imagine will be the bangover of a lifetime. This is all thanks to Adem Tepedelen, the guy who writes the excellent column Brewtal Truth in Decibel that covers the intersection of beer and metal. He is one of the first to focus on the relationship between beer and heavy metal music and without him this fest would probably never have been conceived in the first place.

If you can’t make the fest don’t worry! There’s still a lot of metal and beer tie ins to come. DC Brau has announced that they’ll be brewing another batch of their Savor The Swill beer, brewed with the guys in local band Darkest Hour (and named after the DH song “Savor The Kill”) that will be re-released this summer, including at the Darkest Hour concert at the Rock & Roll Hotel on July 14th (details here). Also, Thou and Cloud Rat are playing a show at Atlas Brew Works on June 26th (details here). I’m not sure what else is to come but as the worlds of metal and beer become more intertwined you can bet on one thing: metal heads that are craft beer lovers have a lot of good things to look forward to!

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!

Summer Slaughter Ticket Give Away

The Summer Slaughter Tour is coming to Washington DC this year and this wouldn’t be DCHeavyMetal.com if I wasn’t giving away tickets to this heavy concert! They’re coming to the 9:30 Club on Monday, August 15th, 2011. All you have to do to enter to win is post a comment below telling me which of the 10 bands on this tour you are the most excited to see play (they’re listed in the paragraph below). One winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries to win a pair of tickets to the concert, awesome! Make sure you enter in a valid email address you check regularly when you submit your comment so I can contact you if you win, though it doesn’t need to be in the comment itself. Don’t worry I won’t add you to a list or anything, I hate spam as much as you do. On Friday, August 12th at 5pm EST the concert will end and I’ll select a winner at random (using Random.org) from all the comments below to win the pair of tickets. UPDATE: I’m going to extend this one an extra 24 hours, so you have until 5pm EST on Saturday August 13th! If the winner doesn’t respond within 24 hours I’ll pick another winner. Don’t be a jerk and enter multiple times or I’ll disqualify all your entries.

This year’s Summer Slaughter Tour is making it’s only area stop at the 9:30 Club on this Monday afternoon in August. There’s a total of 10 bands on this tour, but what really makes this show special is that two of them are a couple of local bands I know you have heard of before, Darkest Hour and Dying Fetus! That’s right, they’re both on the tour and are coming through with headliners The Black Dahlia Murder and White Chapel. If that wasn’t good enough there’s Six Feet Under, which is the current band of original Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes and also features Terry Butler on bass who played in Death on the Leprosy and Spiritual Healing albums. There’s also the video game themed metal band Powerglove who will be doing some sort of half time show. I’m not sure what that entails but they tend to wear costumes that are some sort of cross between Gwar and 90s video game characters. But that’s not all, there’s also several other bands, namely: As Blood Runs Black, Oceano, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Within The Ruins. This show is going to be big! If you can’t wait for the contest to end or if you don’t win you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $24 here. Doors open really early for this one, 2:30 pm in the afternoon so be sure to bring a few dollars for food as the evening goes on. The 9:30 Club has a full menu and there’s also several local restaurants within walking distance along U Street that you can hit up as well. There is re-entry, just make sure you get your hand stamped to get back in. If you’re still not sure which band to pick just check out this video which is a short sampler of all the bands on the tour.

Darkest Hour ticket give away

Washington DC’s own metalcore legends Darkest Hour are headlining a show at the 9:30 Club on Friday the 25th of February 2011 and DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a pair of tickets to one of you lucky readers of the site. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post below telling me what local metal band you’d like to see headline the 9:30 Club next. Make sure you enter in a valid email address you check regularly when you submit your comment so I can contact you if you win, though it doesn’t need to be in the comment itself. On Friday, February 18th at 5pm EST the concert will close and I’ll select a winner at random from all the comments below to win the pair of tickets. If the winner doesn’t respond within 24 hours I’ll pick another winner Saturday the 19th at 5pm and continue to do so every 24 hours until there is a valid winner. Don’t be a jerk and enter multiple times or I’ll disqualify all your entries. Do be awesome and tell your friends about this contest.

Darkest Hour is touring with Born Of Osiris, As Blood Runs Black, The Human Abstract, and rumor has it DH guitarist Mike Schleibaum’s punk project Beasts Of No Nation will be opening for this show only. That’s just a rumor I’ve heard tho and it hasn’t been confirmed yet so don’t get mad if it doesn’t happen. This will be the first show of the Atticus Metal Tour III and will also be the first Darkest Hour concert after their new album, The Human Romance, is released on February 22nd. The doors open early for this show, 5pm to be exact, and the whole thing should be over by 10pm since there is another non-metal concert later the same night. If you can’t wait for the contest to end, or it’s already over when ya read this, you can get tickets from TicketFly for $15 each (before service fees) by going here. Now check out this new song, Your Everyday Disaster, from the upcoming album The Human Romance.