It’s a simple concept at Bands That Brew: Day Block Brewing Company works in collaboration with bands to make a beer to fit their sound. If there is one thing cover songs have taught us, though, it’s that it’s hard to reproduce art, not to mention reinterpreting it. With this month’s beer and concert set for Friday night, featuring Tabah and he Lazy Kids, City Pages wanted to know more than who is behind the beer and on the stage. Bands That Brew isn’t about tasting your favorite artist (ew!), it’s about the creative process.
We elbowed our way into the downtown Minneapolis brewpub for a first taste with Tabah, witnessing firsthand as the band first tried brewer Dan Banks’ Tabah Cascadian Dark Ale, a black IPA inspired by the band.
First impressions were a mix of amazement, gratification, and celebration. A lot of “wow” and “he did it.”
“What am I supposed to say: 'Our band is dark and complex?'” says vocalist/guitarist Cecelia Erholtz. “I’d like for the listeners to make up their own minds. These are things that I enjoy in a beer and in music, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you how I would describe our own sound.” Day Block listened to the band and made the interpretation on their own. “I don’t know what I was expecting,” she adds. "But this is great.”The beer is a mild black IPA, a smooth drinking, heavily roasted dark ale with notes of chocolate and coffee — and heavily hopped — but countered with an easy drinking and clean palate at its base. It’s 5.4 percent ABV and easy to enjoy one or many, another aspect the band wanted for their fans on Friday night.
Adding to the complexity, it carries a unique red tint. Black to the eye, the beer takes on a reddish sheen. “The darkness comes in the aftertaste,” notes bassist Charlie Bruber. “The hops right away. It’s fucking delicious.” The start to finish is a good metaphor, guitarist Jeff Ley adds. “They sometimes go into different directions.” The darkness comes via a roasted Midnight Wheat malt, which is bitter with elements of coffee and a dank, earthy tone.
That is where the artforms blend together. It’s a new look at their work, seeing common elements from the outside without Tabah describing themselves in genre or marketing terms. “We sit down and discuss what we’re going to do,” ahead of brewing, Banks explains, but Day Block focuses as much on creative process as it does on the music. As a former musician himself, Banks wants to recreate Tabah’s approach in the beer instead of using his own point of reference. “The goal is to see where you guys are coming from," he says.
Tabah is more than happy with the results. “I didn’t think it was possible to incorporate a beer to a band,” Ley ends. “But he did it.”
On Friday, starting at 5 p.m., Tabah’s Cascadian Dark Ale will be on sale at Day Block while supplies last. The best pairing, of course, is with a Day Block pizza and Tabah’s live set (9 p.m.), but the beer will likely be on hand for a couple weeks after as well. Last month’s Bands That Brew offering, Nooky Nektar, brewed for Nooky Jones, is still on tap but going fast.