Todd Ahsmann isn’t sure if he’s ever seen live music without a beer in hand. That Goose island President and former music industry veterinarian says beer and music go hand in hand.
“We should work together, ”says Ahsmann. “The half-joke used to be that Rockradio was funded with beer because beer companies mostly bought advertising. Concert halls and festivals earn just as much from selling beer as they do from selling tickets. They depend on each other. ”
Ahsmanns Chicago Craft Brewery has been working with music groups such as Japanese androidids, Sharon Van Etten, and Parquet spaces for exclusive beer releases during the Pitchfork Music Festival. The first collaboration was with a Belgian wheat beer Run the jewels. When Ahsmann first presented the idea, festival founder Mike Reed immediately accepted.
“That was before Run the Jewels even released their first album. I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing,’ ”says Ahsmann. However, he had one condition: “Are you ready to really work together?”
The key to most beverage collaborations is how much the band is involved in every step of the process. For Run the Jewels, they visit breweries and grate hops. What are the duo looking for? “If it goes well with grass,” says RTJ manager Amaechi Uzoigwe with a laugh. “Most of the time breweries come to us, but we also want them to blow us away.”
Since that initial release, Run the Jewels has since been released more than 30 beers, in partnership with local craft breweries across the country. The group’s newest drink – the Ooh La La Pink Lemonade Hard Seltzer – is a collaboration with City Water of Naperville, Illinois. Next up for the rap duo El-P and Killer Mike is a rum (called Rum the Jewels), craft bourbon and international beer releases in Mexico, Western Europe and India.
“These are things that we had in work, not just because people are doing it now,” says Uzoigwe. “We develop products that are based on something that is real to us and that we believe will make sense to our audience. It’s a little deeper than a business – it has to be a collaboration. We have to like them and feel what they represent, what we represent. ”
Stone browsGreg Koch’s had the same spirit when working with Metallica on the Enter night Pilsner. Fortunately, drummer Lars Ulrich took the lead in the taste tests and recipe development.
“We’re not interested in just brewing something that people would drink a lot of,” says Koch, alluding to a rock star he’d rather not name who had asked to partner with Stone Brewing in the past . “It’s like inviting a musician over and saying, ‘Hey, I want you to help me with a song.’ So you think, ‘OK what?’ And they say, ‘I don’t know man whatever, just give me some notes.’ It doesn’t resonate. ”
Other bands like … and you will know us from The Trail of Dead looking for beers they can drink 10 of, Gordon Allison of Father Brew Company says. The Austin, Texas rock band have partnered with the Denver-based brewery and Relationship Bierwerk for a German Kölsch beer. Allison started the business with friend Will Sanderson, and both of them have backgrounds in the music industry.
“The whole concept for Sire is based on our musical background,” says Sanderson. “We wanted to work with artists and ask them, ‘If you had your personal supply of beer, what would it be?’ The downside is that the public can also try this beer. ”
When the beer seems like a gimmick, Sanderson says that audiences “can see right through it if it’s just a band name on a can”. However, for the beer drinker who has no clue about these bands, most of these brews are no joke. Won Run the Jewels’ Stay Gold IPA collaboration with Brooklyn’s Interboro Spirits & Ales Magazine design‘s best IPA in America in 2017. Another mainstay in the band / beer segment is Deftones. The hard rock band’s first Phantom Bride IPA with Belching Beaver Brewing from Denver currently has a 90 or excellent rating on beeradvocate.com.
“The idea [for Phantom Bride] originated when we published blood. We saw it as a way to market the single and bring out a good beer at the same time, ”says Deftones singer Chino Moreno, noting that he, drummer Abe Cunningham and keyboardist Frank Delgado are the band’s beer drinkers. “Over the years we’ve found that we spend a lot of money filming music videos that just end up on YouTube. This helped to market the song and also to make the beer better known. ”
Including the Phantom Bride IPA release, Deftones has released its fair share of exclusives with Belching Beaver, including last year’s one ohm Pale ale and double hopped White pony IPA. Next up, the band will release a beer to celebrate the release of their new single “Ceremony” as well as a second iteration of their tequila collaboration with Abre Ojos.
The potential for this type of collaboration is only increasing.
Jeremiah Zimmer, co-founder of Chicago’s Craft Brewery Hop butcher for the world, recently worked with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins on the Soul Head IPA, which was released just in time for the band’s 30th anniversary Spray. While this is Zimmer’s first and only music-oriented collaboration so far, he doesn’t think it’s going to end anytime soon.
“The more breweries open up and the more people switch to craft beer – all of these people bring in their own experiences and preferences when it comes to beer, musically and otherwise,” says Zimmer. “It’s exponential where music can intersect with beer.”