The challenge was to listen to the album and then find an ale that was inspired by the music. That is, each of the tracks would be linked to an ale that would match their style and their rhythm and beat. Now, it goes without saying (I hope) that drinking an ale to each track (them being between four and seven minutes long) would result in rapid loss of use of one's body and is not to be recommended.
Would you like to see what this challenge has called forth from the dark recesses of my mind? You would? Excellent, click on the finely hand-crafted 'read more' link below!
Something from Nothing
It's a hard song but it's roiling throughout, never fully settled. Warm and inviting on the surface and packing a bit of a hit that you just weren't expecting despite the warning bassline at the beginning, until it lets lose just after the three and a half minute mark. I like this track, one of my favourites, and the ale it brings to mind has to be a Golden effort. I choose Quint Essential (here) because of the spicy undertone and the sudden explosion after the first few sips. Also, there's something about that orange label on a brown glass bottle that just screams this track at me. It is clever, subtle and has that raspy punch that one would expect of a brew matching this track.
The Feast and the Famine
This tamped down anger, a confusion of emotions and ideas awash with duplicity and pounding guitar alternating with silence and miniature rhymes and couplets reminds me of the sort of froth and action one gets in more Belgian offerings (which is rather fitting I think) because they are impossible to keep covered up and sane. In this instance I am minded very much of Speciale by Brampton Brewery (here) because of the light bubbly nature of it coupled with that massive kick of a mule in the ABV, like the sudden switch up to insane jubilation at the end of the track.
This sort of track, anger-inducing but self-effacing, with it's twin beats of pride in achievement and sorrow at work unfinished; anger at the state of the world today but recognition of what has gone before; this sort of track requires an ale that can almost be something to all people. The bridge lead into a different track altogether suggests that this can't a stout, too solid and dark, nor can it be a bubbly and exciting golden ale all happy and light. So, this narrows us down. There's an adventure in this track that draws you ever onward with the darkness and the twists and turns of the music, ever downward and ever more confusing until the journey ends with the Spinal Tap style metal scream, seguing neatly back to the 1980s inoffensive pop-rock stylings of chanting the title. And that can only really be provided by Thornbridge's Wild Raven (here), another ale that I really must buy again to sample on its own and to the full. Maybe this album will keep me inspired long enough to do that...
What did I do?\God as My Witness
This change in character and the way it speaks to the unknown and the untamed for the Lone Star state demands an equally untamed ale to take it through the to the end. However, this track is not the heaviness of stout nor the lightness of a pale. The slightly Queen-esque departure near the end with the high guitar twiddling suggests something of an amber bent and the outro fade demands an ale with a pleasant and soft after-taste that doesn't leave you hanging or too sour. It's not the kind to cleanse palates. It's burning wood, it's Shepherd Neame's Up and Under (here) because of the out-doorsy feel and the fade. Yes, that about sums this track up.
Deceptive mellow, deeply personal and with a dash of road-movie epic thrown in for good measure. Very like the stylings of U2 demands a softer celtic touch to the ale, something fragrant and special. There's the smooth overlay of one guitar on another bass track and the lyrics. There's the signature break mid-song to change styles but keep the basics from one part to the next, and there is the desire to leave and the wistfulness of missing home. It's no contest, this is Fraoch Heather Ale (here) and it fits almost too well. It's subtle, flowery and powerful. There's that same brand of not-quite-wilderness in the ale that is mirrored by the track and the soft sense of being home that never quite arrives. Almost melancholy but hidden beneath manliness and an attempt at virility. Yes, very fitting.
In the Clear
Big guitar, big words and big reverb toward the end suggest something mighty and strong, a brooding presence that enforces its will on proceedings. It is clearly anarchic, clearly something to be respected. It's got to be Molotov Cocktail by Evil Twin (here) - the amber ale you could quite happily attack a government with. At 13% ABV I really wouldn't recommend drinking it whilst the track was playing, but sipping thoughtfully throughout the album. It's a fiery and spicy affair that, when chilled, has a syrup-like texture that allows that might and strength and insanity to slip down easily and without a fight. Roiling with contradictory flavours and senses, being both welcoming and heavily into the red-zone of ABV, this plays nicely into the style that the Foo Fighters have imbued New Orleans and makes, in my mind, a good match.
It's hard to nail down an ale that sums up this desire to honour those who aren't yourself but bound by that liberal-guilt that so plagues the middle-classes at the same time. Alas, it means that brews that speak of working class UK are right out, there's no room for the sort of thing one has with a ploughman's or a pint at the end of a shift at the steel-works. This needs a craft ale and one that is brimming with hops and credentials, meaning that we turn to the crafty IPAs to make sense of this track. It has to be the rather lovely Barry Island (here) which also plays nicely into the fact that this track has a hidden depth through the punch provided by the 6.6% ABV. At once something to quench a thirst and provide a headache induced by dehydration this ale matches the mood of the track, and why it is best to drive to only on a long journey where there will be songs either side, this is the middle of a trip along the motorway when Anna and I have run out of conversation, the children are gazing through the windows, before we start again.
I Am A River
The backdrop of Radiohead synth behind the guitar loops and riffs with limited use of drums and constant builds to silence before beginning again suggest a no-nonsense ale to accompany it. Something that has some character but lacks the knock-out blows of definite hops or blow-your-head-off ABV. It has to be solid, straight-talking and unsurprising chestnut ale. There's a working class nature to this one, the sort of thing you can imagine being supped happily in industrial towns by men who didn't have to say much wearing working caps and nodding sagely as people entered the pub. There's an old-man feel to the track, and I mean that not as an insult. It's therefore got to be Mr Trotter's (here). Because.
I hope this review worked for you, dear reader, and if you think I ought to be doing something like this again feel free to suggest an album for me! I'll do my best!