Beer Review: Telehopic by Hop Butcher

This New England Style India Pale Ale instantly legitimizes Chicago’s “East Coast” IPA game

By Kevin Sterne


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I’ll be honest, I can’t taste much difference between an East and West Coast-style IPA—other than the obvious signifier of location. Beer Advocate is equally at a loss here. Ten to fifteen years ago—when there was a fraction of the microbreweries as today—it might be like comparing apples to oranges. Now, it’s comparable to finding subtleties between Kardashians. They’re all the same to me.

I’ve had Heady Topper from Vermont and West Coast IPA from California; Boom Sauce from Massachusetts and Fresh Squeezed from Oregon. Full disclosure: I have not had the opportunity to try Pliny the Elder nor any beers by Tree House or Trillium. Heading into this write up I would say West Coast IPAs have a more prominent pine taste and malt backbone while their East Coast counterparts forgo malt for citrus flavors and a more juicy body (insert your Kardashian joke about juicy body here). But even those big tent differences feel like big straw grasps.

Two grafs in and we haven’t even talked about how the Midwest factors into this discussion. My take on the Midwest IPA and pale ale game is of fizzy, fructose-forward ales that cater to the demands of entry-level craft drinkers. IPAs are the Marijuana of beers, providing an easy gateway to the world of craft. But Midwest (aside from a few exceptions) hasn’t pinned down a style, nor exceeded (caveat to come) in copying the coasts. Chicagoland area microbreweries, in particular, have been culling from the same well of inspiration, and it’s only slightly better than the Chicago River. No doubt, Chicago is an IPA-thirsty market, but most Chicago IPAs exhibit what I like to call “the 7-Up taste,” where most of your sip is syrupy and overly fizzy (subtle nod towards a particular anti-establishment fizzy fist).

To totally bury the lede, Telehopic by Hop Butcher is the exception to everything above. This beer all but legitimizes the “east coast” style IPA in the Chicago.

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For tasting notes here, look no further than the Denali, Mosaic & Columbus hops. Denali takes the driver’s seat with tropical pineapple while Mosaic rides sidecar, splashing heaven-sent mango juice. Don’t let the weak orange color of this beer fool you, this one packs a tropical punch.

I’d place this one a few notches below The Alchemist’s Heady Topper in terms of New England styles. It lacks the complexity and full body flavor. And to keep with this theme of East/West-Coast confusion, I’ll say it’s on par with the West Coast-brewed Fortum by Firestone Walker. Compared to the Chicago’s best beers, however, it’s among the best—as juicy as 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust but with far less malt compared to Pipeworks’ Citra. People I talk to say this isn’t even the Hop Butcher’s best New England Style IPA. Which, in terms of quality and consistency, puts Hop Butcher in a class with 3 Floyds and Pipeworks.

I admire Hop Butcher’s bent for perfecting a specific style, in this case the “East Coast” IPA. In such a saturated IPA market, many a microbrewery take a jack of all trades approach to their brewing, ultimately creating good, but not great beers. But Hop Butcher has nailed down a style, albeit a style that’s hard to define.



Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago, the editor of LeFawn Magazine. Apart from Shuga Records, he’s written about beer and music for Mash Tun Journal, The Tangential and Substream Magazine. His creative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Potluck Mag, Defenestration, Praxis Magazine, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Word Eater, among many others.

kevinsterne.com
Twitter: @kevinsterne
Instagram: Kevinsterne
Instagram: LeFawnZine

Comey Memo Re: Trump

As a way to earn money for school, I took a job watching a glass box in an industrial-looking New York room. Inside the box I found this memo from former FBI director, Jim Comey. I have every reason to believe this is genuine.

-Kevin Sterne



To:
Myself in the Future (Jim Comey)
From: Myself Right Now (also Jim Comey)

On Feb 5 I met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. The first thing he told me was that he anticipated having a lot of free time as POTUS and would like to get started on preserving his legacy through books. In short order this legacy would apparently begin with a Russia-themed Eye-Spy book.

Trump then removed a few crumpled pieces of paper from his back pocket and handed them to me. At first glance they looked like pages from a coloring book. Trump told me he cannot actually read or write anything other than his own name, and must convey his ideas in crude sketches or elaborate hand gestures. These pages in particularly resembled blind contour drawings of disfigured farm animals.

“This is going to be the greatest book ever,” Trump said while waving his tiny hands like wobbly pool noodles. “I know it. You know it.”

I did not know it.

So I peered over the “treatment.” From what I could discern, page one was meant to portray a shirtless Vladimir Putin on a Russia beach, arranged like Rose from the Titanic. The caption reads: “Draw me like one of your French girls, Don.”

Page two: Michael Flynn’s Russian emails hidden in Russian Nesting Dolls. The smallest nesting doll is full scale version of Kellyanne Conway’s brain, about the size of an almond.

Page three is Sean Spicer in an incredibly messy 1950’s kitchen. He’s donning a dirty apron and hunched over a mixing bowl. The remnants of egg shells, measuring cups, flour, etc. are strewn all over the counter and walls. There’s a window along the back wall that shows a massive nuclear mushroom cloud, presumably from a Russian warhead. The caption for this whole scene reads: “Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire with Sean Spicer.”

At this point I had “read” enough. I told Trump I thought this was a terrible idea and a tremendous waste of time and energy for the President of the United States. To which he told me I better hope there are no “tapes” of our talk. He put his tiny fingers in air quotes for the word tapes. To cap of the most bizarre encounter I’ve ever had with any political figure, Trump tried to kiss me.

He was showing me to the door, but right before opening it, puckered his lips and leaned into me. But because I’m 6’8” and he’s about 5’4” he could only reach my right nipple. Which he kissed anyway, because his eyes were closed. Then—as if this otherworldly incident could actually be forgotten—he whispered to me: “I hope you can let this go.”

 

Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago, the editor of LeFawn Magazine. Apart from Shuga Records, he’s written about beer and music for Mash Tun Journal, The Tangential and Substream Magazine. His creative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Potluck Mag, Defenestration, Praxis Magazine, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Word Eater, among many others.

kevinsterne.com
Twitter: @kevinsterne
Instagram: Kevinsterne
Instagram: LeFawnZine

New Vinyl Releases 5/26/17

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  • The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (50th Anniversary)
  • Big French – Stone Fish
  • Blink-182 – Greatest Hits (Limited Edition, Hand-Numbered to 2700)
  • Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal) – Shared Hallucinations Pt. 1: Sonic Salutations from the Venerable Vaults of Rancho de la Luna 1972-1984
  • Cende – #1 Hit Single (Color Vinyl)
  • The Chainsmokers – Memories…Do Not Open (Limited Edition Translucent Gold Vinyl)
  • The Charlatans – Different Days
  • Chevelle – Wonder What’s Next (2002, Milky White Vinyl)
  • Crescent – Resin Pockets
  • Justin Townes Earle – Kids In The Street
  • Fleetwood Mac – Mirage (1982)
  • Fleetwood Mac – Tango In The Night (1987)
  • Frenzal Rhomb – Hi-Vis High Tea
  • Galley Beggar – Heathen Hymns (Limited Edition Purple Vinyl)
  • Ides of Gemini – Women (Limited Edition Purple Vinyl)
  • Incantation – Primordial Domination (Limited Edition Gold/Brown Marbled Vinyl)
  • Incubus – 8
  • Lambert – Sweet Apocalypse
  • Leftfield – Leftism (3-LP Special Edition)
  • John Mayer – The Search For Everything
  • Moonchild – Voyager
  • Mortician – Darkest Day of Horror (2002)
  • Pet Symmetry – Vision (Cream Vinyl)
  • Sia – Some People Have Real Problems (2008, First Time On Vinyl)
  • Six Feet  Under – Torment
  • Solstafir – Berdreyminn (Limited Edition Opaque Blue Vinyl, Only 250 Copies Worldwide)
  • Suffering Hour – In Passing Ascension
  • Umphrey’s McGee – Zonkey (The Mashup Album)
  • Underworld – Beaucoup Fish (1998)
  • Melvin Van Peebles – Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)

As fun as the idea of a new At the Drive-in album is, I’d rather exist in my Relationship of Command echo chamber…sipping Lagunitas Waldo’s Special Ale

by Kevin Sterne

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17 years is a long time to hang with a feeling. But that’s what this so-called “emo revival” is propped on. Nostalgia is what brought Mike Kinsella devotees out of hiding for a second American Football LP. And why the Internet shuts down over so much as a rustle from Brand New’s camp. The Lonesome, Crowded West. Full Collapse. What it Feels Like to Be Something On. These are pillars of 90’s, lower middleclass suburbanite feelings. Whatever you call it, be emo, post-hardcore or “screamo”—At the Drive-in’s Relationship of Command was the high-water mark for which all subsequent music was weighed against.

No band played with as much cathartic energy, or barely corralled violence (however you want to view Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s relationship with a microphone stand). The El Paso four-piece was in another stratosphere with their sonic intensity, and that’s exactly how the media portrayed them in the ironic quest to commercialize a band that was so sincerely anti-mainstream. When the closest comp at the time was Nirvana’s Nevermind it’s easy to see how At the Drive-in was unlike any band in the 1990’s.

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So how’s the music 17 years later? In•ter a•li•a is a return to familiarity in the same way Saosin’s Along the Shadow of a Man sought to be. It satiates a need for aggressive, post-hardcore without eyeshadow and every song is relentless. Omar Rodriquez Lopez still plays like he’s trying to break his guitar in half, manic and unrestrained (no more clearly than on the song “Continuum”). Bixler-Zavala’s lyrics still land on the spectrum between cryptic and nonsensical: Smuggled in their faith like an orbit in decay // Drools the cloying adulation of piss ants // One shot for every snitch leads the needle to the stitch. The rhythm section is still a raw, stutter-stop conglomeration. There’s even those little interludes of noise following each song.

All the pieces are there. “Incurably Innocent” and “Call Broken Arrow” empty the adrenaline glands just like their predecessors: “Cosmonaut” and “Mannequin Republic.” It’s not a stretch to imagine “Pendulum In A Peasent Dress” tucked between “Sleepwalk Capsules” and “Invalid Litter Dept.

The band followed their blueprint and delivered an album that checks a lot of musical boxes, but missing is the context of its construction.

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In 1999-2000, Emo/post-hardcore was riding a wave (cresting with “One Armed Scissor”), washing up the sediment of: The face palm that was Y2K; the now tame cluster fuck of the Bush v Gore election; American Beauty; Nu Metal; and Fucking Nu Metal. Relationship of Command held a mirror to the lunacy of Adidas rock, consumerist mall shopping and the tech boom. But In•ter a•li•a cannot deliver the same effect.

This isn’t a failure of its design, it’s a failure of our time. The world we know is beyond satirical in representation. 2017 cannot be pinned down through funhouse lyrics masquerading as a dystopic metanarrative. We are a society numb to nonsense, and few among us have the attention span to decode lines like these: TV’s gonna comm lag, jettison the populace // Disassociation in the belly of the beast // Break the fourth wall, break the fourth wall come on // Lobotomize the question of my infinitude. Bixler-Zavala need look no farther than Jon Mess of Rise Record’s label mate, Dance Gavin Dance for lyrics inundated with sarcasm and misanthropy and cynicism.

With so much to distract us, it would take a post-post-modern version of human centipede with Trump, Kellyanne Conway and Putin in the lead roles for us to unplug from the Zucklord and actually pay attention.

I’ll just live out my remaining days in my Relationship of Command echo chamber.

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Join me in the echo chamber where I’ve befriended The Waldo’s Special Ale. Purportedly the dankest and hoppiest beer Lagunitas rolled. This ale smokes contemporaries in the imperial IPA game. Hyper citrus fruits cover the heavy alcohol—but unlike Dogfish Head’s multi-minute ales or Stones palate ruiner, the Waldo’s creamy caramel and melon finish won’t leave your tongue tasting gravel.

 

Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago, the editor of LeFawn Magazine. Apart from Shuga Records, he’s written about beer and music for Mash Tun Journal, The Tangential and Substream Magazine. His creative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Potluck Mag, Defenestration, Praxis Magazine, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Word Eater, among many others.

kevinsterne.com
Twitter: @kevinsterne
Instagram: Kevinsterne
Instagram: LeFawnZine

Friday Releases 5/19/17

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  • Amon Amarth – Versus The World (Ultimate Vinyl Edition W/ Lyric Sheet and 2-Sided Poster)
  • Amon Amarth – The Crusher (Ultimate Vinyl Edition W/ Lyric Sheet and 2-Sided Poster)
  • Amputator – Deathcult Barbaric Hell (2007)
  • Jim Avett And Family – For His Children And Ours
  • Basecamp – In Stone EP
  • Basement – Promise Everything (Deluxe Reissue on Marble Vinyl)
  • Chris Bathgate – Dizzy Seas (Translucent Smoked Vinyl)
  • Beastmaker – Inside The Skull
  • Blond Ambition – Slow All Over
  • Box Car Racer – S/T
  • The Builders And The Butchers – the Spark
  • Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love (Ltd. VR Boxset / Bundle)
  • Crystal Fighters – Everything Is My Family
  • Dragonforce – Reaching To Infinity (Neon Green & Purple Vinyl)
  • Enslaved – Roadburn Live
  • Alex G – Rocket
  • Nick Hakim – Green Twins (With Poster & Download)
  • Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark (Reissue)
  • Iron Maiden – No Prayer For The Dying (Reissue)
  • Iron Maiden – Virtual XI (Reissue)
  • Iron Maiden – The X Factor (Reissue)
  • Jade Jackson – Gilded
  • JX Riders (Ft. Sisterwife) – Hiccup (12″ Single)
  • Land Of Talk – Life After Youth
  • Matisyahu – Undercurrent (Ltd. Indie Exclusive 2LP on Translucent Blue Vinyl)
  • MC Hammer – Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (Reissue)
  • MisterWives – Connect The Dots
  • Morning Teleportation – Salivating For Symbiosis
  • The Mountain Goats – Goths (Indie Exclusive 2LP, Opaque Red Vinyl, Bonus 12″)
  • Trey Parker & Matt Stone / Original Broadway Cast – The Book Of Mormon (2LP w/ Color Booklet)
  • Chris Price – Stop Talking (Ltd. Indie Exclusive)
  • Nathaniel Rateliff – In Memory Of Loss (Deluxe 2LP Gatefold, 180 Gram w/ Bonus Tracks)
  • Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
  • Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure
  • Soundtrack – Blue Velvet (1986) (Reissue)
  • State Champs – Around The World And Back (Ltd. to 500, White / Gold / Black Vinyl, Documentary DVD)
  • Toothless – The Pace Of Passing
  • Various – The Lego Batman Movie: Songs From The Motion Picture (Split Black & Yellow Vinyl)
  • Voivod – Dimension Hatross (1988) (180 Gram Reissue, Remastered From Original Tapes)
  • Voivod – Killing Technology (1986) (180 Gram Reissue, Remastered From Original Tapes)
  • Voivod – Rrroooaaarrr (1986) (180 Gram Reissue, Remastered From Original Tapes)
  • Waters – Something More!
  • Wavves – You’re Welcome (Ltd. Blue Vinyl)