Napster, Music with Daddy Issues, and NE IPAs

Napster Bad Beer Good
Lars Ulrich can go to hell.

There are two pieces of technology in my lifetime that immediately after I saw them I understood everything would be different going forward.

The first was Napster.* The summer before Napster turned all of Gen X into pirates, my college strung all the dormitories with high speed internet lines in every room. It was uncanny.

I will never forget the awe of watching Heart of Glass download onto a computer in 30 seconds and then playing it out the booming speakers of my roommates DJ level audio equipment. The Internet officially grew up in that instant for me. Connectivity was real and it was profound.

At that moment everything changed. The music industry in this country can be broken into pre-Napster and post-Napster eras. Nothing was ever the same once music could be stolen.

Similarly, the first time I got to try a North-East Style IPA I knew this would be a shift.

For me, it started like it does for many people coming to this style, with Heady Topper. Here was a beer with moderately high ABV, hazy looks, solid mouth feel and juicy crushable flavors that makes it quaffable. It was unlike anything I had experienced before in an IPA.

The West Coast style IPA hop bomb had been put on notice. We have a new player in town.

Since then Tired Hands, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Maine Brewing Company and Hill Farmstead Brewery have crossed my lips. I am now actively seeking Tree House Brewing Company, Trillium Brewing Company, 14th Star Brewing Co.,and others.

West Coast IPA still have their place. In years past, I made a special trips for Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder and the Younger. I love Racer 5 and Sculpin. Sierra Nevada Torpedo is a widely available classic. I have sought out some of the greatest of these hoppy, bitter, and floral beers and plan to continue to enjoy them. But… its the NE style that gets me excited now.

This past weekend I saw Everclear in concert at The Vineyard at Hershey for their annual Merlot and Flash Gord’n release party. It was nostalgic listening to music from my high school years. Music that pumped from my beloved Sony Discman into my car stereo through a cassette tape adapter.

Everclear is both pre and post-Napster. Pre-Napster, the music industry was in balance. Music labels controlled the distribution, consumers paid too much, and artists got screwed by management. It worked…in a sense. After the Napster revolution the revenue plummeted, control by the labels went to hell, and artists still got screwed.

While I was standing there listening to Art Alexakis embody the North West grudge sound and singing about his deadbeat dad, I sipped on a solo cup of Hippie Ki-Yay! by Brewmaster Ryan DeLutis for The Brewery at Hershey. Its a juicy and fruity NE Style IPA, as hazy as it is crushable.  As such, Hippie Ki-Yay! rises with this newest wave of craft beers.

Is the NE IPA here to break up the West Coast IPA’s reign of dominance? Unlikely and only time will tell. Yet, the differences between the two styles of IPA is stark. A well done West Coast IPA is floral, bitter, and in its most extreme, punishing to the palate. NE IPAs are crushable, easy drinking with low bitterness and a subtle sweetness boosting the citrus of copious hops.

Everclear’s second album So Much For the Afterglow was their biggest success.  Debuting after the MP3 file sharing revolution, the album’s title could have been a send off for the height of a once dominate industry. Unlike Napster crumbling the foundation of music, NE IPAs should be welcomed as a buttress to a growing movement.

Ryan DeLutis’ Hippy Ki-Yay! shows a brewer coming into his own after several years of plying his trade professionally. While not quite to the standard of the stalwarts of this burgeoning style it is very good nonetheless. In Hippy Ki-Yay!, the Citra and Mosaic hops come through but minus the punishing bitters of the west coast style variants while having that full bodied mouth feel. More importantly it is a way to try the NE IPA style minus the hundreds of miles and days stalking around New England bottle shops and breweries.

It is a very good beer that shows even the small local breweries can push a revolution.

Post-Script:

*The second of the two pieces of tech was when Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone. No one had any way of knowing that it would become the most successful piece of hardware in tech history. What I did understand immediately was the power of having the Internet in your pocket. I assumed it would change everything and I had to have one. I still love my iPhone(s) more than any other piece of tech I own. They are personal.

I am also a Apple Fanboy so take all that with the biases regularly associated with this disclaimer.

If you are a Gen Xer you really should watch Downloaded a 2013 documentary about the rise and fall of Napster. It is very, very good and a great run through the music of our youth. Also it has a bunch of Kurt Loder MTV news clips.

Listening to Everclear these days it is easy to assume that they have more daddy issues than can be found on a porn set.

The first time I had Blind Pig down at Monk’s Cafe in 2012 it was easy to see how this beer sparked the West Coast IPA. Years later I would get to enjoy Russian Rivers’ Pliny the Elder and the Younger. Transcendent beers still to this day. The West Coast IPA style is not in decline in my opinion but the NE style is making waves.

Vineyard at Hershey had 10,000 people come out to see Everclear. I never would have thought they would get that many. I don’t think they did either. Beer lines were very long. But word is they plan to deal with it next year with more taps to get shorter lines.

Hippie Ki-Yay! is better than Hoppy Ki Yay by Lonerider Brewing Company out of Raliegh, NC, which I also liked. But the name with the “Hoppy” works way better than Hippie. Sometimes being first pays big dividends.

Also the art work for Hippie Ki-Yay! just does not work for me. Is that a hippie Bruce Willis/John McClain? That is just wrong on so many levels. But it is way better than the stupid meme at the top of this post.

Die Hard is a Top 5 movie of all time and it is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. Period.

Fresh Flick and a Fresh Beer.

Brewed in the Burg

This past weekend GK Visual and SaraBozich.com released Brewed in the Burg, a documentary now available online at Vimeo. This film debuted during Harrisburg Beer Week to resounding praise.

I caught it then but now that it is online, I wanted to take the time to really digest the film. It was an opportunity to pick up on all the nuance and ideas kicked around by the Who’s Who of the Harrisburg-area craft beer industry. It is an impressive line up of interviews:

So I hunted down the freshest local beer I could find to enjoy while watching. I found the perfect beer. It was a Crowler of Pizza Boy’s Murren River IPA; a super fresh batch tapped just two days prior (7/12/15).
The Murren River was piney and dank in the nose. Heady as hell, this straw colored American IPA is excellent from start to finish. Well bodied with a great clean mouth feel it providing a firm head that laced the glass perfectly. Murren River had a slight sweetness that was cut with balanced piney and citrus hops. The finish is of orange and a subtle hint of earth and grass. It came with a long dry finish that belies the easy drinking tones. This beer clocks in like a Cruiserweight with 7.6% ABV but drinks well below its weight class.

I loved this beer and it merges perfectly with a important quality of craft beer discussed within Brewed in the Burg. Right in the middle, it discusses the importance of freshness. This is the obvious and unassailable advantage of drinking local craft beer. It is impossible to get a beer as fresh as I did today any other way. This matters. It tastes better and you are getting the beer exactly as the brewer intended.

The other themes discussed are true of any craft beer community: supporting local business, fraternity between brewers, friendships cultivated among beer drinkers and a love for great beer.

The way this film is true to Harrisburg is the people on which it focuses. It could get easily lost that this documentary is about just craft beer brewed in Harrisburg. What Sara and GK Visual have done is weave a story about local brewers, small businessmen and women, beer drinkers and people that write about it or just enjoy drinking it. These are salt of the earth people that are doing extraordinary things in an extraordinary industry. Stick around and watch the outtakes… This was a great reminder that these are just hardworking people; many of them making good on a dream.

Craft beer becomes a conduit for telling their story. That is the take away from Brewed in the Burg. The slickly shot and edited documentary is about the people that make the local craft beer industry possible.

Please check out the video at http://vimeo.com/gkvisual/brewedintheburg and use the tip jar. Brewed in the Burg is a movie worth a couple of your bucks. This doc will give you an understanding of how a sublime Intangible Ale, a crisp Sunshine Pils or whatever you are nursing at ZerØday got into your glass. Through people’s hard work and dedication to the craft of brewing beer.