I’ve come up with some crazy combinations of metal and beer over the last several weeks, and this week is going to be no different. At least on the surface. But there is a definitive connection between the two items I’m consuming this evening, something I’ll be getting into shortly. The styles may clash, but there is an overlapping inspiration. Well, for me. And as usual, that’s all that matters. I have things to do (no I don’t), so I’m going to kill the intro here. The Metal: Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit. The Booze: Moat Mountain Brewing Company’s Miss V’s Blueberry.
The Metal: Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit
So I went hiking last weekend. By myself, as usual. And that means two things: plenty of beer and plenty of Agalloch. But there’s something special about this particular album. I can’t that it is my favorite Agalloch album out there (that would be The Mantle), but it may actually be more important to me. Let’s first briefly acknowledge how impressive this album is: it has a beautifully raw intensity to it that differentiates it from other Agalloch work, yet it maintains the same progressive conceptual aspect of it that only this band could perfect. Start to finish, it is a masterpiece, and I for one think that “Into The Painted Grey” might be the greatest Agalloch song… ever. It’s darker, colder, and I’d say the most dynamic collection of tracks in the Agalloch library. But there’s more to this selection than that. You might notice that the above vinyl is signed. You might also notice that it’s a clear press. A few years back I made a fairly modest roadtrip to a small (now defunct) festival called Winter Is Coming down in New London, CT. Agalloch headlined. After making acquaintances with the members of the band on opening night, they were gracious enough to all sign this piece of memorabilia I picked up at the show. It remains the single most important artifact out of all my metal artifacts. Agalloch may no longer be a thing, as much as that depresses me, but the importance of their music in my life will probably never diminish. This album represents not only my favorite Agalloch moment, but possibly my favorite metal moment in my life (Wacken is an obviously close alternative).
The White Mountains… Agalloch… Beer. They go hand in hand… in hand. Moat in particular is significant, though. With their brewhouse/smokehouse located in North Conway, a quaint (yet aggressively growing) village in the White Mountains, it has become a staple for any and all adventures in The North. Their food is solid and their beer is amazing. Offering a wide selection of styles, you really can’t go wrong. But my selection tonight was curious. Why? Because I fucking hate blueberry beers. When I want a beer, I want a beer. Too many that attempt this style end up creating some overly sweet, fake tasting, blueberry juice. And it pisses me off. This however… this is different. It’s a traditional ale, and the underlying flavors are consistent with what you would expect. It’s light, fresh tasting, and clearly brewed well. But it’s actually the blueberry flavor itself that wins me over. Where others fail and overdue it or use the blueberry to mask a mediocre base product, Moat’s blueberry is a bit more subtle. You can taste and appreciate the fresh blueberries that went into the product without overwhelming the quality ale that serves as the foundation. The blueberry accompanies the beer, rather than overwhelms it. It is refreshing, tasty, and really hard to put down. Moat Mountain… bunch of winners over there. This is another staple in their rotation. Their facility is one of my favorites in this state. If you ever make the poor choice in visiting me, I’ll probably take you on a road trip to check it out. No, that is not an invitation. Stay the fuck away from me.
If it wasn’t apparent, since last weekend I’ve had mountains on my mind. As they usually are. These are two things that accompany those experiences regularly. And for what it’s worth, the combination together doesn’t suck. Sure, maybe one of Moat’s IPAs or a stout or something would be more fitting for the darkest and coldest album in Agalloch’s discography. But this is serving its purpose well enough because of external associations that I applied. So it’s been real. We’re also up to distinct beer number 614 for those keeping score at home. For now, I’m going to go stare at my record player and the signed album cover next to it as the brilliant clear disc spins and spins and spins and…
“Ein Bier… bitte.”