Daniel Harlan (Shame guitarist) on beer and tunes

(you asked for it)

It’s hard to pick a favorite type of beer. I’ll drink just about anything once to try it, but I typically gravitate towards beer from breweries I know I like. I also like to drink local if possible, if only because the brew is almost guaranteed to be fresher than anything being imported from out of state/country. Freshness is a HUGE factor influencing the quality of a brew, especially for hoppy beers, which I happen to drink a lot of. I do tend to make an exception for Belgians as there are few American brewers making sours/saisons as well as traditional Belgian brewers. See De Ranke’s XX Bitter, any DuPont Saison, and Geuzes from Drie Fonteinen/Hanssens. Craftsman, Russian River, and Upright Brewing are American brewers who make consistently tasty Belgian styles.
Image

There’s tons of incredible craft beer being brewed on the west coast right now. LA has a few new breweries that are making great stuff. Eagle Rock brewing makes tasty brews from IPAs to ginger saisons and they are less than a mile from my old house. Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach has only been open for a year, but I swear he is making the best hoppy beer on earth. Smog City, currently in Tustin, but moving to Torrance, also makes really killer everything. Surf from Ventura also has a solid lineup of brews. I really dig their single hop series of XPAs called Shaka. Hangar 24 is also good.

Moving south, you have the Bruery in Placentia and then all the San Diegan surfer bros who will forever try to out-hop each other (Green Flash, Ballast Point,  Stone) it is getting a little out of control at this point. I love hoppy beer, but I also appreciate some amount of nuance. I’d have to say that Port/Lost Abbey is my favorite of the SD proper breweries because the Lost Abbey makes decent big brews and Belgian styles and because Mongo from Port is pretty much perfect for a Double IPA. My actual favorite brewery in SD county would be Alpine, they are a little further out, but they make great hoppy beer: Duet and Nelson are both amazing brews that I snatch up whenever I find them.

Having been in the bay area for the last 11 day, it’s been nice having Russian River brews (Blind Pig and all their sours –tempation, supplication, consecration– are favorites) readily available as well as stuff from Moonlight. Reality Czeck, a bohemian pilsner, is great hot day drinking. Oddly enough, the weather is nice and cool up here so I’ve been in the mood for some darker brews. Magnolia is a brewpub, that is totally worth visiting, despite being located in the Haight (barf). The crowd is weird: yuppies and haight-ashbury deadhead hippie buttholes, but whatever. They do traditional British styles really well and that’s hard to find on the West Coast, as until recently our craft brewers have been in an arms race to make bigger and bolder everything, which is great and all, but it’s nice to have something that’s balanced, subtle, and sessionable. The last couple years have seen a trend to make less in-your-face beers, and Magnolia does it as well as anybody. They also have 5 or so casks on at any given time, which is virtually unheard of at American beer bars.

I also have to mention Sierra Nevada among the best of NorCal breweries. I am a total fanboy. Sierra Pale is the beer that opened my eyes to craft beer and one that probably consumed more of than any other single beer out there.  They’re often either cast aside or taken for granted because they are huge, but they are the only brewery I can think of that makes beer as consistently good as they do on the scale that they do. They’ve also been doing it for longer than pretty much anybody except for Anchor, who is also impressive for similar reasons. Linden St, Dying Vines, and Drake’s area other bay area breweries worth checking out.

Anyway I could prattle on for quite some time, but you get the point. Ultimately drink what you want, or not at all. I try not to get to snobby about beer unless someone asks, but in general I feel like there is too much good beer out there to waste your money on corporate swill. Try not to be fooled by fake craft brands either i.e. blue moon (miller) and shock-top (Anheuser-Busch) which tastes like pez. Also, if you are trying to find good brews, go to brewery tap rooms and talk to bartenders and brewers. They are generally eager to talk about what’s good and why.
Image

As far as pouring tips are concerned, there’s no magical technique. Start the pour gently into the side of the glass and then finish by pouring a little harder into the center of the beer to create some head (2 fingers is what most people aim for, but it doesn’t really matter). The most important thing is that if you want to enjoy a nice beer, ALWAYS pour it into something, be it from a bottle or can, and to be sure plenty of great beer now comes in cans. I am a sucker for glassware, but you just need one trusty glass to drink out of. I like tulips and snifters just cause they look sexy and are still bottom-heavy.

Image

I am too much of a drunken klutz to trust myself with a top-heavy wine glass. I also rinse my glasses with water before pouring beer, otherwise you’ll notice that a lot of the beer you taste has “notes of soap”.

Image

Finally, since you asked: I do not own a record player 😦 but as soon as I get a job up here, I’d like to get something easy to use and inexpensive, that is not a total piece of shit, so feel free to recommend something. Until then I play all of my music on an Acer 6920 laptop that I’ve had since 2008. I use some incarnation of Ubuntu that a friend installed on here. The music playing program is called Amarok, and I sort of hate it because the new version no longer syncs to my ipod.

I’ve been in a bit of a musical rut lately, not many new finds. Lately, I can’t stop listening to Turbonegro, mostly Ass Cobra and Apocalypse Dudes. That My Dad is Dead Record: The Taller You Are The Shorter You Get was also in heavy rotation recently as was Jay Reatard’s Blood Visions.

Image

Image

Image

Fell to Low is real fucking good and Walker (who plays in dyemaker with the other Shame dudes) is a phenomenally talented musician/songwriter not to mention an all American. Speaking of which, I’m really looking forward to the finished Dyemaker demo. I also spent a silly amount of time on my friend Nick’s website listening to his compositions which range from fucking hilarious to beautiful. http://nickvonkaenel.com/music/

Earlier this year I was playing a lot of Swans. Particularly Soundtracks For the Blind and Filth, totally different albums, but both examples of visceral songwriting at its best.

Image

As far as heavier musax is concerned I really dug the last Corrupted album from 2011: Garten Der Unbewusstheit. I also played the shit out of the Magrudergrind self-titled. Lots more random shit, that I can’t think of right now. That’s it.

Image

Sorry this was so long.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: