Outside Lands, the quintessential San Francisco music festival, is gaining quite a reputation for its non-musical components. The artists are always solid, but what sets Outside Lands apart from other music festivals is their focus on quality local vendors – from food, wine, art, and yes – to beer.
This year, Outside Lands will have 15 local craft breweries pouring their wares, and the beers available will be curated by none other than San Francisco’s Dave McLean, owner and brewmaster of Magnolia Brewery.
There is something special about the combination of great beer and great music that ensures incredible results. Whether it’s being able to enjoy a local beer while watching your favorite artist live, or even a more literal combination of the two – a collaboration between brewery and band.
It’s becoming more and more prevalent for breweries to create a beer in collaboration with either another brewery, or perhaps an actor, tv show, or even a musical artist.
As Dave McLean puts it, “it’s always great to follow one’s own creative muse when brewing but it’s even more satisfying at times to share in the creative process with other people whose work we admire.”
This idea of breweries creating beer in collaboration with others got me thinking – what would it look like if the breweries at Outside Lands collaborated with the artists performing? Which artists would the breweries choose to collaborate with? What beers would the make? Naturally, with my curiosity piqued, I had to ask.
Without further ado, here are the beers that 13 of the breweries pouring at Outside Lands would create in collaboration with Outside Lands artists:
Pacific Brewing Laboratory – Hall & Oates
- “For Outside Lands this year, I would brew a Hall and Oatmeal Stout. I have always been a fan and I think they have influenced a ton of bands over the years. I think a full bodied, flavorful and bold, yet balanced oatmeal stout would compliment their music in any situation. Because I can go for that, I’m a stout-eater!”- Bryan Hermannsson, Brewmaster
Magnolia Brewery – Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk
- “Collaboration brews represent one of the most special things about the craft beer community — the mutual respect and sense of community we all feel toward each other. It’s always great to follow one’s own creative muse when brewing but it’s even more satisfying at times to share in the creative process with other people whose work we admire. That’s what I love about music, too, of course, and so, from this year’s Outside Lands lineup, I think I would choose Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. Talk about tight-knit communities. There are few musical communities as tight as that of New Orleans’, where musicians support each other, help each other, work and play together, and constantly honor tradition while adding new sounds to the mix. It’s often a family affair, too, as in Ivan Neville’s case, since he and his family are a huge part of the musical culture of New Orleans. With family roots going back to the legendary Meters but a whole new sound all his own, I think it would be a lot of fun to collaborate on a beer in this context. One of the joys of collaborating is wondering what the other party is bringing to the conversation. Not knowing that, I’ll have to guess that we would want to make something refreshing and thirst-quenching, a very session-able beer well-suited for hot New Orleans weather and long nights in that city’s amazing venues. If everyone has something to say, the more the merrier in any collaboration. It would be fun to talk out a beer with the whole band and see what comes of it.” – Dave McLean, Brewmaster
Almanac Beer Co. – Nine Inch Nails
- “Well, I would want to collaborate with Nine Inch Nails. First off, I think Trent Reznor is incredibly talented and his music was truly something ground breaking when it first came out. I was in high school when Pretty Hate Machine was released and it was in heavy rotation on my Walkman for years (it still is when I snowboard!). Given that it’s the Nine Inch Nails, the beer would have to be jet-black, sinister and sour. I would probably brew a big 10% American stout and age it for 18 months in grappa barrels with blackberries and sour bugs. I can’t say that it would be for everyone — but I think that’s true of NIN’s music. The beer would have to be called, “Sin”, after a song on Pretty Hate Machine, of course.” – Damian Fagan, Co-Founder
Bear Republic – Grizzly Bear
- “I love music and so I took some time to listen to several of the artists to find something that struck a cord, and I’m going with Grizzly Bear. The name seems appropriate to us, but reading their biography and listening to the music made me realize I like the friendship elements of the group, the time, and groove. It feels as if the members make music that makes sense to them – very much the way this team makes beer for us. The added bonus is if the public likes or appreciates it. I’m a fan of the band now for sure. Would love to see how a collaborative beer would turn out. It would a little rough, quaffable, with a balanced nose. Perhaps a session brown, or red ale with a complex malt to hop balance that you could drink all day, longing for the next one…now I want to meet these guys.” – Ricardo Norgrove, Brewmaster
21st Amendment – The National
- “I would have to go with The National. 21st Amendment and The National go hand in hand. They are also a band that is deep and brooding. They have unusual titles to their songs just as we have with the names of our beers. And they have fun on stage, similar to myself.” Shaun O’Sullivan, Brewmaster
Anchor Brewing – Willie Nelson
- “Willie Nelson is a pioneer in the music industry, having paved the way for countless other artists. Similarly, Anchor is considered the founding father of the craft beer movement. I think a crisp, All-American wheat beer similar to Anchor Summer® Beer would be the perfect Willie Nelson-inspired brew intended for those who don’t want to sacrifice tradition or character. Smooth and refreshing in taste and brewed according to Anchor’s centuries-old brewing traditions – Now that sounds like music to my ears and tastebuds.” – Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster
Mad River – Fishbone
- “I’d have to go with Fishbone on this. Love their funky eclectic style, and would want to brew ‘Pink Vapor Stew’ for them (one of my favorite tunes they do). Would be a lemon-ginger hibiscus shandy – sweet & sour, spicy & funky, bright pink and uber refreshing.” – Dylan Schatz, Head Brewer
Speakeasy – Red Hot Chili Peppers
- “We’d go with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and we brew a ‘Mothers Milk Stout.’ It would be a sweet and spicy milk stout brewed with ancho chiles! We’re huge fans of them and the old school funk punk style totally fits with who we are as a brewery.” – Brandon Borgel, Director
Drake’s – Camper Van Beethoven
- Reason 1: Local. Camper Van Beethoven is a local (Santa Cruz & SF) band while Drake’s was born and raised here in the SF Bay Area in San Leandro.
- Reason 2: Versatility. CVB has a reputation for a huge range of styles. From Wikipedia via Strong Martin’s The Great Rock Discography 5th Edition “Their eclectic and ever-evolving style mixes elements of pop, ska, punk rock, folk, alternative country, and various types of world music. Drake’s has evolved and created countless beers over the years, and currently the brewery produces 10 different year-round styles of beer with an ever rotating selection of seasonals, one-offs, and small batch barrel-aged beers.
- Reason 3: Indie Cred/DIY Attitude. CVB is often credited a forerunner of what is now indie rock. Drake’s is a still growing 24 year old craft brewery in an industry dominated by young companies. Both of us have a hip/gritty/edgy feel to what we do and how we do it along with a “we do what we want attitude.”
- Reason 4: Friendliness: CVB songs are often covered, and CVB covers others songs on occasion. Drake’s loves everyone, and we enjoy collaborating with other businesses and brewers. Just this year we have collaborated with Stone Brewing, 21st Amendment, Faction Brewing, Blue Bottle Coffee, and we have another beer collaboration with L.A.’s Beachwood BBQ in the works for September.
- The Beer: “As for what beer we’d create, at first we were thinking a Black Rye Session Imperial Wit Bier. We landed on an actual beer, though when [we realized] they’re from Santa Cruz. They’re crunchy. We’re thinking a farmhouse ale with an oddball ingredient like elder berries, and dry-hopped with Mosaic since it’s earthy and floral. Seems like a good Santa Cruz hop. Maybe we can pitch some wort onto a Kombucha starter for a sister product.” – Drake’s Brewery
Ale Industries – Nine Inch Nails
- “We would like to do a collaboration with Nine Inch Nails. The beer would be named Star F**ker, after the song. I am choosing this song, because I enjoy the visual of being out in space making sweet, sweet love to a ball of fire! I would imagine it to be a pepper spiked golden, because that would be hot.” – Morgan Cox, Brewmaster
Social Kitchen and Brewery – Paul McCartney
- “I don’t think I could pass up the opportunity to brew a beer with Sir Paul McCartney. He’s the best! I reckon I’d just keep it classic, classy, English, and appealing to a hard worker; so a Porter ought to do the trick. I’d keep the abv around 5%, make it very smooth and quaffable with notes of chocolate, honey, leather, and a juicy berry like hop overtone. I have the recipe all ready to go in my head as I’m writing this. Drinking the beer would be a relaxing experience; smooth like listening to his Wings’ era slow jams. Classic like listening to a record like Hard Day’s Night. A colorful note from the hops reminiscent of Magical Mystery Tour. Approachable and personable, just like I imagine the man himself to be.” – Kim Sturdavant, Brewmaster
Linden Street Brewery – Willie Nelson
- “We would make a beer with Willie Nelson so we could hear some great road stories from him. It would definitely be a hoppy beer…probably infused with some kind of herb.” – Andrew Ritter, Lead Brewer
Sierra Nevada – Mother Hips
- “There’s not much that beats the combo of great beer and live tunes. Heck, we built a small concert venue at our brewery for that very reason. Music has even inspired several of our recent beer collaborations. We’re based in Chico, California, and we get together with our hometown boys The Mother Hips each year to make Hips Helles, a traditional, easy-drinking Helles lager, for their music festival in Big Sur. Hips singer Tim Bluhm and his wife, Nicki, first made Hips Helles when they attended our Beer Camp program—two days of hands-on recipe creation and brewing. They nailed it with that brew! Plucking a few artists from the amazing 2013 Outside Lands lineup, we like imagining a true jam session ale with our friends The Mother Hips, the highly talented blues artist Gary Clark Jr., and who wouldn’t want to include the country blues legend Willie Nelson? That trio would simply ooze soul that would inspire a smooth brew to carry you through the wee hours of the morning, just like a long jam session.”
- “While we dream on about that one, folks at the beer tent can enjoy the collaboration we made with Another Planet specifically for Outside Lands. It’s brewed in the traditional French Saison style and boasts a crisp, refreshing finish.” – Terence Sullivan, Field Educator and Brewmaster
Beer and music – truly a wonderful combination. It’s pretty great to see Sierra Nevada is already one step ahead and creating an Outside Lands collaboration with Another Planet this year. Here’s to hoping that one of these collaborations can actually take place next year, and we’re all sipping a Bear Republic / Grizzly Bear ale come next Outside Lands.
Beer of the moment: Great Lakes’ Edmund Fitzgerald Porter