Earlier this month, Asheville Brewing Co. teamed up with Southern rock band Blackberry Smoke for the kind of partnership no red-blooded American would scoff at.
Not only was it a great melding of music and beer in one of the country’s best towns for both, but to cap it all off, it served as a fundraiser for veterans suffering from PTSD.
Blackberry Smoke is arguably the biggest name in Southern rock right now; their 2016 album “Like An Arrow” hit No. 1 on several different Billboard charts in the United States and the U.K. Asheville Brewing made a blackberry wheat beer to contribute to the fundraiser concert, which the brewery also named Like An Arrow.
I previously wrote about the trend of local breweries and sports teams partnering up, and a few months ago Durham beer guru Bryan Roth wrote in All About Beer magazine about the national trend of celebrities and athletes opening up their own breweries. (Yes, Hanson really does have a beer called MmmHops.)
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But from a risk, time and money standpoint, it might make more sense for bands to pair up with breweries for one-time concerts and releases instead, like Blackberry Smoke did.
So I started thinking of a few Triangle breweries and bands who ought to get together, whether it’s for charity or just plain fun. Beer drinkers are an eclectic bunch so here are suggestions for an electronica band, a metal band, an Americana band and a rapper.
Sylvan Esso appeared on NPR’s RadioLab in 2015 with a song called “Jaime’s Song” as a tribute to those who struggle with bipolar disorder. The song became so popular, they later released it as a single.
Ponysaurus, for its part, brewed a beer last year called “Don’t Be Mean To People, A Golden Rule Saison” shortly after House Bill 2 became law. Proceeds from the first round of sales and an associated Kickstarter went to local LGBT groups. The beer was so popular that they’re now brewing it year-round.
Suggested beer: ElectroPony, a sour ale. These two are too hip to brew anything but a sour beer.
Both are from Carrboro, and plus how could you not pair an acoustic string band with a brewery called Steel String? The puns write themselves.
Suggested beer: Dobro Porter. Mipso doesn’t have a dobro in the band, and Steel String doesn’t currently have a porter on tap. This solves at least one of those issues.
True, Cary isn’t exactly a hotbed of hip-hop culture. But Cary’s Fortnight made a splash a few months ago for brewing a beer while blasting Wu Tang Clan, to see if the added vibrations would change the beer.
They should keep on going down that path with Raleigh’s King Mez. What better rapper for a British-themed brewery to partner with than one who’s a king? Make monarchy great again, y’all.
Suggested beer: Long Live The Hops, a West Coast IPA. King Mez called his 2014 mixtape “Long Live The King.” He’s also apparently a pretty good basketball player, so he’s got hops. Plus he’s best known for co-writing most of the songs on Dr. Dre’s 2015 album “Compton,” so he has West Coast cred. And Fortnight, which makes mostly more traditional English beers, could take the excuse to expand its repertoire with a juicy West Coast IPA.
Finally, I’m dreaming of a partnership with Apex’s Southern Peak Brewery and Raleigh’s Between the Buried and Me, and not just because it would be great to see the faces of the suburban patrons when these guys start playing.
However, a few members of the prog-metal band are straightedge. So we can’t give them alcohol. I don’t want to anger anyone with such a gutteral scream, so let’s go with kombucha here. Southern Peak is one of a few breweries in the Triangle that makes kombucha, a fermented herbal tea that’s usually alcohol-free.
Kombucha suggestion: Shredded Strawberry Sweeps: Grab one, turn on the band’s magnum opus “Selkies: The Endless Obsession” and enjoy. Like kombucha itself, the music might seem a little foreign and uncomfortable at first. But they’ll both grow on you. And if the final four minutes of instrumental glory don’t leave you feeling rejuvenated, the kombucha will.
That’s it for my hypotheticals.
Clearly we’re all missing out, and I yearn for the day when I can write about an actual band-and-brewery pairing that’s happening locally, not just in Asheville.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran