Earlier this month, Delaware craft brewery Dogfish Head announced that it’s collaborating with legendary indie-rockers Guided By Voices on a new beer to celebrate the band’s seminal 1994 album Bee Thousand. The name? BEER Thousand. (Inevitable, but brilliant.) But the worlds of beer and music geekery have long been intertwined—and these collaborations between breweries and rock bands prove it.
Dogfish Head and Deltron 3030 Dogfish’s music roots run deep: The brewery has created a plethora of beers inspired by artists like Pearl Jam, Julianna Barwick and Miles Davis. (Founder Sam Calgione and brewer Bryan Selders also drop geeky rhymes as rap duo the Pain Relivaz—it’s about as goofy as you’d expect.) One of the brewery’s finest collabs is Positive Contact, created in 2011 with hip-hop legends Dan the Automator and Del the Funky Homosapien (who make up two-thirds of Deltron 3030). It’s a powerful (9% ABV!) brew made with cilantro, roasted farro, and cayenne pepper—deep and funky, just like Deltron’s beats.
Elysian Brewing Company and Sub Pop Records Two of Seattle’s finest teamed up on this pale ale, initially created to celebrate the pioneering rock label’s 20th anniversary in 2008. Elysian made the beer a year-round release in 2013, and beer nerds everywhere are better for it: Brewed with Sorachi Ace hops, it’s a bitter, crisp ale that packs a punch. (The tagline—“Corporate Beer Still Sucks”—is a nod to Nirvana frontman and onetime Sub Popper Kurt Cobain, who wore a shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” to a Rolling Stone photoshoot in 1992.)
Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Lower Dens Location also spurred the initial offering in Stillwater’s Sensory Series, created by brewer Brian Strumke as a way of connecting beer and music across all the senses. Strumke worked with fellow Baltimoreans Lower Dens on a hibiscus-flavored beer inspired by the latter’s song “In the End Is the Beginning.” But the collaboration didn’t stop there: The label was designed by Rose M.F. Chase, who created art for the band’s album Nootropics, and the group recorded a video specifically for the series.
Ska Brewing and DC Brau and the Pietasters If you’re going to name your brewery after a musical genre—in this case, the horn-heavy favorite of college dudes everywhere—then it’s pretty likely that you’ll end up collaborating with one of those bands. In this case, Colorado’s Ska Brewing did a double collab: They partnered with DC Brau to create a beer with D.C. ska vets the Pietasters. The brew, called Taster’s Choice, is a 7.4% ABV coffee doppelbock—maybe not the best beer to drink before an epic skanking sesh, but tasty nonetheless.
Three Floyds and numerous heavy-metal bands The cultish Indiana brewery may as well be the official beer producer for metal bands everywhere: Since collaborating with Illinois post-metal band Pelican on The Creeper in 2010, Three Floyds has worked with a bunch of heavy rockers—including EYEHATEGOD, High on Fire, Municipal Waste and Amon Amarth—on equally heavy beers. The brewery even teamed up with Pelican again in 2013 on a black IPA, named for the band’s song “Immutable Dusk.”
Signature Brew and Mastodon Some brewers pursue collaborations with musicians as a passion project; but for others, working with bands is a way of life. Put Signature Brews in the latter category: Since it was founded in 2011, the company has worked with a few different bands to craft their own, ahem, signature beers. Though most of their collaborators have been Brit rockers, the label has partnered with two Americans: Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn (per his specifications, it’s an easy-drinking golden ale), and Atlanta quartet Mastodon (who worked on an appropriately heavy black IPA).
Goose Island and Run the Jewels Killer Mike and El-P, who’ve released an album together as Run the Jewels, collaborated with Chicago brewery Goose Island on a special release to commemorate the duo’s performance at the 2013 Pitchfork Festival. The wheat ale was a limited-edition draft, so it’s unlikely that you’ll find it these days, but we can’t help but love the fact that the brew apparently “invokes one of the duo’s favorite aromas *wink-wink*.” (We got you, guys.)
New Belgium and Clutch Yep, it’s another brewery-hard rock band collaboration. And the beer that Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing created with Maryland metal quartet Clutch is, yes, heavy: It’s 9% ABV, and the recipe includes chocolate and black malt. But the twist is that there’s also a sour component; the brewery adds a bit of the base that’s used to make its La Folie, a wood-aged, super-sour brown ale. Like Clutch, this beer is hard to pin down to one genre.
Stone and Kyle Hollingsworth + Keri Kelli If those names don’t sound that familiar, then you’re obviously not familiar with the jam-band circuit. (And that’s okay!) San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. partnered with String Cheese Incident keyboardist Hollingsworth and Alice Cooper guitarist Kelli, combining a bunch of hops (including dry-hopped Vic’s Secret, an Australian variety), coriander, and elderberries for this bitter, Imperial IPA.
Robinsons Beers and Iron Maiden Speaking of beer-and-metal partnerships, in 2013, Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson added “brewer” to his list of side projects (no, really—dude is a novelist and has a pilot’s license) by partnering with centuries-old Robinsons Brewery on a Maiden beer. The drink, named for the band’s 1983 song “The Trooper,” is an English-style ale with a relatively low ABV of 4.7% (not, alas, 6.66%).