Rock ‘n’ Roll Beer Drinking – Part 1
Following in the footsteps of Iron Maiden’s successful Trooper ale, which last year broke the 10 million pints sold mark, a lot of bands of late have been putting out their own beers, with some even branching out into wines and spirits (Slayer’s Reign In Blood Cabernet Sauvignon and Pogues Irish Whiskey for instance).
The link between drink and rock n roll is an obvious and well documented one, but are these band-branded beers actually any good, or are they just another arm of big acts global merch empires? Do they taste of what the music sounds like do you think?
Well, in the finest traditions of investigative journalism, Dave Ashworth lines up a few and attempts to get to the bottom of the matter, or at least the glass…
Motorhead – Bastards lager
Soundtrack: Motorhead – Bastards (1993)
Now, for a drink called “Bastards”, I must admit I expected a bit more than 4.7%, but I guess we all have to start somewhere (indeed, the band have some far stronger brews later on in this list). Much like Motorhead’s back catalogue, lager is often criticised for being pretty samey and at times fairly tasteless, unfairly to my mind.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the lager to disprove those accusations. The taste is refreshing enough and fairly crisp, but there is a slight lingering soapy element that offends the taste buds. The bottle says “Beer drinkers and hell raisers”, but I don’t think I’d raise much hell on this, I’d probably switch to something with a bit more bite. I am mildly refreshed, but I must say I’m more refreshed to hear the original version of Born To Raise Hell on this record, rather than the version with Whitfield Crane they always play on the radio.
Queen – Bohemia pilsner
Type: Czech pilsner
Aroma: slightly hoppy
Soundtrack: Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
A sound choice for Queen this one – a Czech pilsner has a little more class than your average lager, and the Czech Republic is of course home to the region Bohemia, of which they wrote a small Rhapsody about. You may have heard it at parties, it’s quite popular. I think they used it in a film once too.
There’s a fair bit more going on in this one than Motorhead’s “Bastards”, but you know what Queen were like, they threw in a bit of everything on record. This is not quite as crisp as Freddy’s delivery, but what you do lose in crispness you gain in a slightly malty bitterness which is pleasant, but doesn’t linger too long on the palate.
Whilst I’ve had far worse lagers, I’ve had also better pilsners, so this is unlikely to gain the legendary status of its namesake. Oh dear, two drinks in and I’m singing along to said hit already. I can’t hit those notes Freddy mate!
Ghost – Grale ale
Type: Scotch ale
Colour: dark nutty brown
Aroma: treacle and citrus
Soundtack: Ghost – Meliora (2015)
The first of the heavy hitters tonight, by which I mean percentage, not necessarily album sales. Personally I think Ghost have missed a trick here, I would have gone for a “ghostly” pale ale, rather than this sticky scotch ale. But I guess in character it is quite a good match for the sound – dark, murky and knowingly odd – which probably trumps my terrible pun.
It’s a complex impact, at once both very sweet and intensely dry, and more than a little bitter. The label suggests figs and orange on the tongue, I can maybe find the figs, but I’m not so sure about the orange. At about halfway down the glass, the flavours align like the planets, and it all becomes really rather tasty indeed.
Much like the band, this one is certainly intriguing and very enjoyable, but to be taken in small doses, as too much can only lead to confusion and headaches.
Marshall Amps – Rock N Roll Triple Craft Beer
Colour: pond brown, cloudy
Aroma: tangy, invigorating
Soundtrack: Airbourne – Running Wild (2007)
Back for number four, and I think it’s time for some peanuts. What is it about beer that makes you want peanuts I wonder? What did we have with beer before peanuts? Very important question that. Anyway, I digress. Marshall have taken the mantra of “one louder” that is so often used on their amps and applied it to brewing here, coming out with a 8.6% offering, the highest of the bunch. Ambitiously, they’ve gone for a tripel, a strong ale more usually associated with the Trappists monks.
I’m not really enough of a connoisseur of the Trappist tradition to really tell you if this is more than a passable effort I’m afraid (I draw your attention to that time in Cantebury, oops), however I will say it is a rich full bodied mouthful, light on the tongue, but heavy on the senses. The only downside is that the slight citrus air is noticeably acidic, a drawback of the high percentage I suppose.
I chose Airbourne to go with this because to me they’re a quintessentially Marshall band – they have the Marshall stacks onstage, they’re uncomplicated, and they’re loud (I might have said AC/DC, but they’re in the next episode…). Not really a direct comparison to this beer in the end though, it’s a little more in-depth and more considered than the brand reputation would have you expect.
Motorhead – Snaggletooth cider
Colour: straw yellow
Aroma: apple, lambrini
Soundtrack: Motorhead – On Parole (1979)
After a few strong ales, it’s a nice palate cleanser to pick out a cider. This one sits on the fence rather, describing itself as a “sweetened dry” cider. Which is basically like saying you’re the left hand of the right really isn’t it? Which leaves you in danger of ending up slap bang in the middle, or nowhere at all. Or something, it’s getting a bit late in the evening for logic. Ahem.
This is a sparkling cider, and that in conjunction with the dryness scores this quite well on crispness and refreshment, but there is adequate sweetness in there too, albeit a little chemically. At the end of the day, this is cider, and like the band that spawned it, it’s not a complicated drink. It’s booze, it’s made from apples, and it gets you where you where you want to go. What more can you ask for? Exactly. I think I should drink more cider. Hurrah for cider!
Iron Horse is a life! Iron Horse is a wife! Who fancies a curry?
Dave will return next week with Part 2 of this feature, when he has slept that little lot off somewhere. At this point I suppose social responsibility dictates that we remind you to drink responsibly, but hell, who ever had a good night out on just one beer? You’re old enough to make your own bloody mistakes guys.
Most of the drinks mentioned in this article can be found online at http://www.iconbeverages.co.uk/.