Welcome to another weekend beer and metal pairing. This week’s offering is a celebration of both the old world and the new: a beer brewed in a traditional English style in the new world and a band that carries the sounds of traditional metal into the present day. Let’s get into it. The Metal: Magic Circle’s Journey Blind. The Beer: Ballast Point’s Piper Down Scottish Ale.
The Metal: Magic Circle’s Journey Blind
Given that most of my articles here on Nine Circles tend towards the more extreme black and death metal, you might get the impression that I came out of the womb fully formed and already wearing a Portal shirt. This is not the case, however. I too, like most who got into heavy metal music, started out as a young lad cutting his teeth on the kind of hard rock passed down to me through my dad (my mom has never had much interest in the stuff, even today) and through family friends. So it was then, in my formative years I was gifted Black Sabbath’s Paranoid on CD one fateful Christmas. This is an album that I credit with changing the entire course of my life; obsessively listening to it and pouring over the history of the band led me down the path to becoming immersed in heavy metal culture and shaping much of the person that I have become today. So when I find a band that attempts to capture the feeling of Sabbath-style old school heavy metal, I always give them a go in the hopes that one day someone will be able to truly convey that essence. I have found that in Magic Circle. Far from simple hero worship or nostalgia machine, Magic Circle clearly put their whole heart in what they do, and the effort shows. Journey Blind is just an all out fun album; from the bombastic vocal performance to the myriad guitar solos, to the stomping drums that just beg you to bang your head along, everything you love about metal is here in spades. And it’s played with a passion that is missing from many bands that attempt to ape the retro sound. Seeing the band play live at Migration Fest only cemented my love for them as well; their live shows are energetic and captivating, and definitely inspired some bad attempts at dancing on my part.
The Booze: Ballast Point’s Piper Down Scottish Ale
Ballast Point is a San Diego, CA based brewery that is a staple of Southern California grocery and liquor stores. Known especially for their Sculpin and other IPA’s, the brewery also ventures into other territory. Enter, Piper Down, their take on a classic pub ale. This hits all the notes you want out of a brown ale: big malty flavor, gorgeous red-brown color, and a smooth finish. There is very little hop profile in this, leaving more room for the roasty caramel flavor to shine through without any bitterness holding it back. At 5.8% ABV, this is a beer that is effortlessly drinkable, and it’s easy to make it through the whole 22 oz bottle without realizing how fast you have been going. All in all, this is a timeless style done with care that will leave anyone satisfied.
There is a fine line one walks when trying to emulate the classics. It is hard to pull off a style that has been done for decades without sounding unoriginal. Fortunately, both Magic Circle and Ballast Point know how to walk this tightrope with ease, delivering products that offer the best of years gone by with enough of a modern sheen to separate them from the pack.
Enjoy, and be good to each other,