Oh My Darling (ohmydarling.ca)
There are some things in life that just seem to inspire one another and make for the perfect combination, like mac and cheese, Page and Plant, and music and brewing.
Yes, I said music and brewing because really, is there anything better than hearing a live performance while nursing a cold full-flavour beer?
Well, the good folks at Half Pints Brewing Co. seem to think so -- and we would tend to agree -- as recently they have been finding inspiration from Manitoban musicians to create unique and delicious beers that cheekily appropriates an artist's lyrics, style and sounds into the brewing process.
Such is the case (or I suppose "keg" here would be more appropriate) of their latest beer the Sweet Nostalgi-Ale, which will be tapped for one night only this weekend in celebration of the charming bluegrass outfit Oh My Darling's latest album, Sweet Nostalgia.
Sweet Nostalgi-Ale was created by Christopher Young, a brewer at Half Pints who found some lyrical inspiration to create a beer that represents Oh My Darling's easy-going country sound, all while breaking some brewing rules in the process.
"When I was thinking of what to make I thought of their name first," said Young. "Even though I've been told not to name a beer first and then make it, I couldn't help it; I was thinking of "oh my darling Clementine." So it gave me a quick idea "yeah Clementines would be nice," so I kind of went with that and started to add Clementine rinds to the beer."
The brew couldn't be as simple as adding some orange peels to the mix, so Young looked further into Oh My Darling's style for further inspiration. Building off two Half Pints' staple beers, the St. James Pale Ale and the Little Scrapper IPA, Young addresses the country flavour by soaking the clementine rinds with some warrior hops in an ingredient that you could say speaks of country tunes.
"Those rinds and the hops were all soaked in warm bourbon - to help draw some of the flavours out - and well, bourbon goes very well with country music so that was a bit of the inspiration," said Young.
While it is the first (and possibly only) time that Half Pints has used these ingredients in a new brew, it is not the only time they have found inspiration from a Winnipeg act in creating a new beer.
The CD release for Greg MacPherson's Disintegration Blues saw the brewery make two unique kegs for the two unique shows that MacPherson played for the launch. One night of acoustic music was served up with a lighter, easy drinking brew while MacPherson's fully amped rock show corresponded with a big, rather badass dark ale.
For the folks at Half Pints, music serves almost as much importance in the brewing as does the hops.
The owners of Half Pints, Dave and Nicole Rudge, actually met in Winnipeg at a punk rock concert. Dave himself played in punk bands all his life while the employees of Half Pints are all involved in some capacity with making music. (I actually got a kick out of one employee who spotted my digital sound recorder -- he has the same one and is using it at home to record and mix tracks).
"I think about 90% of employees here have been in some sort of band and play instruments," said Young. "We actually recently played a show - our staff put together a band and called ourselves "Barge Water" [which is part of the brewing process] and did a bunch of parodies on songs about beer."
When you enter the Half Pints brewery the sound of the brewing vats is actually drowned out by music, and the brewery itself sponsors Transistor 66 Record Co. To put it simply, in the words of Young, "music is a big part of this."
I'll drink to that.
Image in article: Christopher Young in the Half Pints brewery (CBC)
Catch Chris Young on the Weekend Morning Show with Keran Sanders on Saturday November 5 at 8:15 a.m.