This is the first installment of “Brewers Corner.” It’s an opportunity for Bellingham’s brewers to write about anything they damn well please. They can rant about the industry, wax poetic on an obscure brewing topic, or just write about their favorite beer stuff. As you might expect, views expressed here are not necessarily those of Tap Trail, or the writer’s employer.

Aaron Jacob Smith, Brewer @ Boundary Bay Brewery

The Bastard Brewer,  C.J. Good,  & Dick Mallory Esq.
Welcome to the the Sordid Tales Of A Bastard Brewer!  Today marks the first session of this column which is a unique opportunity for me to write about whatever I want as long as it involves beer, and I do love beer and all things beer.  Many articles have been written about the technical side of brewing, critiquing and reviewing beer, pairing beer with food, but here we are going to do something just a little bit different.  We are are going to pair beer and music and visual images.  Since I can do anything I want here I decided to just sit on my couch and call a few friends and have them bring me free beer and records so I called up the ever lovely and wonderful queen of beer C.J. for some growlers of the best of what’s happening thats new at Aslan brewery and Dave Crider who just received a box of ultra cool box of 45’s from Valley King Records.

C.J. showed up first and without waiting we got down to business pouring a few glasses of Brick is Red, a 5.7% ABV,
10 IBU dry hopped sour that was a collaborative brew with long time North Fork brewer Eric Jorgenson.  I immediately imagined Eric in his bright orange jumpsuit listening to Sonic Youth.  Arguably Eric’s favorite band is Sonic Youth and his favorite Sonic Youth song is The Diamond Sea.  If it isn’t then that’s just too bad, because it should be.  History is written by those who write it – so I say it is.  Ironically I just picked up the 12” single of the Diamond Sea at Avalon at National Record Store Day two weeks ago and hadn’t even put it away yet, and so here we begin.

The beer is sour, deep red, and moderately tart ale exudes flavors of dark chocolate and pie cherries.  The song exudes notes of feedback that vacillates between melodic order and sonic chaos.  At first both the sip and song are a bit wild and a touch overwhelming and hard to quantify.  After a minute the sound and flavor meld and become cohesive.  It is now that we choose to pick some visuals.  We agree that an old black and white sic-fi movie would go well and we start The Black Scorpion about halfway thorough the movie.  The long ebb and flow of the guitar and mouth puckering sour cherry flavor pair well with the grainy picture of men in white suits and machine guns battling giant worms, spiders, and scorpions.

My head feels nice.  There is a pleasant soft feeling in my frontal cortex.  It is noon.  I like this.

The 25 minutes of The Diamond Sea finish up with the beer and we move on to the next bottle.  C.J. pours up a  couple of Aslan’s Frances Farmer Saison’s a  5.8% ABV, 24 IBU DuPont style farmhouse ale with effervescent bubbles, more than a hint of bubblegum, and notes of orange citrus.  I believe Frances Farmer was a legendary schizophrenic actress with roots in the northwest who threatened to kill some cops and got prostituted out in an insane asylum and Nirvana wrote a song about her.  I think about playing Nirvana but chose otherwise.  This is fun beer and we decide to go funky with some James Brown and TNT Jackson.  The Black Caesar soundtrack is James Brown at his best.  It’s not the sappy “I Feel Good” everyone knows but the dark and heavy “Down and out in New York City” that C.J. describes in conjunction with the beer as – “Sexy but not TOO sexy yet masculine, with a slight feminine swagger that makes you sweat a little bit.”

Things are rolling along smooth until side two and old Jimmy boy starts crooning about his dead momma and we realize that TNT Jackson is actually a really shitty movie.  perhaps we should have gone with Nirvana.  We scrap it, refill our Frances Farmer and put on some Grinderman to The Toxic Avenger.  Nothing can touch us now.  Nick Cave, IPA, a radioactive mutant, and toxic explosive fireballs.  We hit the ringer.

It is now a few hours later and we are almost out of the ever so delicious Aslan sours and the legendary Dick Mallory rolls in and parks on my lawn.  Well, not so much my lawn but on my sidewalk right up to the front porch.  I guess that’s how you roll when your name is Dick.  He’s got a nice sized box of 45’s but no beer.  Apparently as one known for supplying such libations myself I am going to have to be more punctual in my communique about how I want people to bring me a lot of beer for free.  After all I am the one who has to write down and document all this shit.  Anyway, that’s ok.  I have a good line on a supply of sweet sweet wonderful delicious beer.  Dick knows this, and I know that he knows that I know that he knows this.

Anyway,  I bring out the  gallon of Boundary Bay IPA that is my reserves which will be the featured beer for our audio visual pairing for the evening, and its barely afternoon.  This is the point in this programming where I am supposed to into great detail and tell you all about the Boundary Bay IPA but I’m not.  I’ve been making this beer for almost two decades and if you are reading this here and haven’t tried it then try leaving your house.

The rest of this review will now focus on the music, as we are in for an extremely rare treat.

If you like the kind of music that is made by musicians channeling the all their passions of love and anger by playing real instruments rather aggressively through big amps turned way up loud like I do, then Dick is a good guy to know – because he knows good guys to know who have that in spades.  Has just received a box of ultra cool box of 45’s from Justin at Valley King Records.  Very cool indeed.  These guys put out a premium product with excellent artwork by Alan Forbes and packaging that includes a heavy paper art card and sticker.  We top off our beer and toast.  Small strips of thick white head slide down the edge of the glass, I switch the phonographs settings to 7” and to 45 RPM and we begin.

#1 Carlton Melton – Side A) “Observatory” with thick layers of trance-like droning that doesn’t really go anywhere.  It reminds me of myself today and probably in the morning.  Side B) Black Elk Medicine Band – Mortal Fire.  This cut is thoughtful and textured with delicate slide guitar with a Derek and the Dominoes feel to it but just a bit too long.

#2 Black Elk Medicine Band – Side A) “Santa Ana” and delves right into a Hawkweed feel with heavy fuzz bass.  This is groovy.  We switch the video to the last 20 minutes of the War Of The Gargantuas.  Side B) – “As The Sun Rose On December 29, 1890”  C.J. notes this is the day after the battle of wounded knee which fits the sad atmospheric serenity of the song.  the War Of The Gargantua’s on the other hand makes no sense to me.  there is two Gargantuas, one brown and the other a different color Dick is saying.  I don’t ask how he can tell since the movie is in black and white.  Some questions beg to not be asked but the brown one apparently does or doesn’t have a taste for eating Japanese people.

#3 Older Sun – Side A)  “Bad Man”  This number immediately kicks ass and makes a great soundtrack to the monster killing tank battle.  With a confluence of vintage Judas Priest and Michael Schenker sounding leads we like this a lot but note that it is a little quiet and doesn’t quite pop as much as it could.  We are confused why it was a 33 RPM 7” instead of mastered at 45 RPM.  Maybe they wanted it to have a small hole Dick notes.  Side B – “What You Need” hits with even more UFO than Priest and C.J. is head banging.  My face feels warm after a few pints of Aslan sours and Boundary Bay 7.5% IPA’s. I refill and slap on some more wax.

#4 Honky – Side A) “Double Fine” a sludge little number that reminds me of Clutch and we switch the visual to Streetfighter.  It’s impressive how many movies are just as good if not better with the sound off.  Side B) “Snorting Whiskey / Moby Dick”  Sounds like good old fashioned Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll.

#5 Honky / Altamont (split side single) Side A) Honky – “Gotards Theme Song” is pretty straight up with a bit of Melvins and it sounds like they are playing the first half backwards for the second half.  Side B) Altamont – “Junkie” sounds more stoner sludge than heroin.  Sonny Cheeba is having a flashback.

#6 All Time Highs! – Side A) “Divinity” Riffin’, high energy, out of the gate old school rock with tight drum hooks.  C.J. is head banging again.  Dick rates it “Jet-Age hard rock”.  Rock ’n’ Roll Chaos Delight is more punk than Divinity with notes of AC/DC and just enough wah pedal thats over before you realize it.  Love it.   Side B) More punk than the A side with wah and note of AC/DC.

#7 Pins Of Light – Side A) “The New Sun”  good cut with a few almost breakdowns that keep you guessing where they will take it next.  There is a girl with her hair in pigtails that look like bicycle handlebars.  Dave informs us that we are almost to a good scene.  I want a guitar solo.  Side B) “Maybe Millions”  Sonny just hit a guy so hard his eyes fell out and my hands feel blurry.  ‘Nuff said.

#8 Spiders – Side A) “Nothing Like You” I missed this one due to my necessity to use the conveniences of modern indoor plumbing and upon return was requested to flip it over.  Side B) “Long Gone” goes straight into riffage with a chick sounding dude on vocals. Dick says it’s a chick.  Yes, she’s a she.  ok, this is good.  Pretty straight up rock.

#9 Golden Void – Side A) “The Curve” – About halfway through Dick mentions he is not sure where this song is going except to the other side and flips it.  Side B) “Shady Grove” – Ok, this is what an A side  sounds like.  This song rocks and Sonny is ripping out the larynx of his adversary to the atmospheric sounds of the second half of this number.

#10 Altamont – Side A)  “Mrs. Creech”  This is a funky rocking number that finishes out the fight scene well.  Side B) “Transmaniacon” – C.J. and Dick are laughing and it’s decided this song is “trippy dude”.

#11 Gondola – Side A) “Nightmare” – Ok, these guys like drugs a lot.  We are not on drugs.  I believe this album needs drugs and not beer.  They are song written, rehearsed, and recorded on drugs to be listened to while taking drugs.  We decide there should be a background choir of children yelling Drugs! Drugs! Drugs! Side B) “Hash In The Highlands” – It doesn’t need to be said but I will anyway that this cut also needs drugs.  we focus on the movie where there is a man who looks like Keanu Reeves in a finely tailored plum suit.  Dick thinks he looks more like Chris Robinson from the Black Crows. We both agree we just wish we had that suit.

#12 Carlton Melton – Side A) “Handling Snakes” – this is definitely more drug music from a man who’s guitar amp caught on fire during his Bellingham show.  I believe it.  Side B) “The One That Got Away” – Ok, this song makes me want to stand in a river of reverb and jam along wearing a poncho, big hat, and extremely dark sunglasses.  Needs drugs.

#13 The phantom Ships – Side A) “Boise” – If you’re not from there you probably pronounce it wrong.  Whatever the case, Steve turner knows what’s up and he’s down with the pick slides.  Side B) “Knives” – Sometimes you need to clean a new record but this one even sounds good skipping.  Dick  says it’s some dust fuck or some dander.  I agree.  It has gotten too difficult to type as I can uno longer feel the keys under my fingers. I’m done.

Thank you for enduring this episode of “The Sordid Tales Of The Bastard Brewer” I hope you enjoyed it. If you would like to be a part of this sort of behavior then just let me know when you can bring me sweet, sweet, delicious beer and some records and I’ll spin them and play movie bits as we drink it.
 -Cheers TBB