Chicago’s own Pipeworks Brewing Company and Dark Matter Coffee have a threesome with 18th Street Brewery.

Review by: Kevin Sterne


Pipeworks Brewing Company and Dark Matter Coffee are two institutions of experimentation in Chicago, consistently twisting tongues and bending palates with S’mores and Chile flavored lagers and hop-infused roasters, respectfully. The two cross pollinate the other’s nectar on many occasions; DM releases beans aged in Pipeworks barrels during holidays. In turn Pipeworks has brewed several coffee-forward beers: Dark Matter Machine Coffee Cream Ale and Grand Guignol: Act Two Oatmeal Stout.

For their latest sexual intermingling, they invited a third party, 18th Street Brewery. The child of this threesome—Attack of the Devil’s Lettuce, whose name and artwork alone raise expectations as high as a Wicker Park hipster’s brow. ADL is ultra-dank, coffee-infused imperial IPA that leaves the tongue pulsating from so much flavor arousal.

devil-lettuce

My tongue felt how my brain does when heavily caffeinated. I was wired to everything. And with so much going on in this beer, the stimulation can be a bit overwhelming. But I’ll break it down in simple terms:

• Look: No filtering leaves this golden child hazy and deep amber.
• Smell: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. Some hops, a bit of malt. But mostly Coffee, Coffee, Coffee.
• Taste: A tome of flavor. Coffee in the front accented by tones of peppercorn, lemon, orange peel. The Sorachi Ace hops lend intense Earthy flavors, giving the swallow a pucker of vegetables plucked from the soil—maybe lettuce? This makes for a flavor clash that’s difficult to reconcile.
• Feel: Big and bulbous, with noticeable alcohol.
• Overall: The bomber size demands two mouths. Full disclosure: I didn’t finish the whole thing, there too many flavors fighting for attention, making the drink experience more taste chore than drinkation.

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While this three-pronged sexual conquest may have resulted in some tainted birth flued, this is by no means a bad brew. There’s a lot for the tongue to touch, and if you can get your slimy paws on it, pick up the Brain Tentacles and Wild Jesus & The Devil’s Lettuce record to stimulate your audio nodes in conjunction. A droning chamber of bass, sax and metal darkness pulled from the murky pools of Lou Reed’s long ago Berlin. Stir the brew and the tunes in a cauldron and puff on your devil’s lettuce. Now THAT is a sensory orgasm.



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.

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Vinyl on Tap: Pairing Music with Beer

by Kevin Sterne

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Girlpool’s Powerplant

On their first album Before the World Was Big, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad navigated age and introspection—feeling young but being old—through specific lyrical scenes. Their sophomore effort Powerplant takes a more abstract and poetic approach in to the lyrics:

“She’s like a shelf the way she looks at the wall
A stock market dance while the poetry falls”

The addition of drummer Miles Witner gives backbone to the dual harmonies of Tucker and Tividad—the deserved draw of Girlpool. With Witner, the sonic representation is more expansive. We see the group explore Lyncheon dream pop, and classic stop-and-go alt rock that everyone seems to be doing. All is standard hipster-indie fare for the cool crowd, but the dreamy atmosphere and lyrical poignancy are what set Powerplant from what you’ll hear over and over and over in 2017.

The video for titular single, “Powerplant” shows the trio half-heartedly performing to coffee-shop art-types in a bowling alley—a setting so “un-hip” it’s fetishized for its irony. The video explores the theme of a singular moment, specifically live performance and a recorded one that is the same the first time and the hundredth. This idea plays out when the video’s director breaks the fourth wall, commanding the band to show more energy.

The moment and the video are comical and offer a meta commentary on the music industry, not unsimilar to Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Good Squad.

Pair the album and the book with Lakewood Brewing’s Vienna-Style Lager.

lakewood-lager

Skip the $5 bowling alley pitcher of lager for one that is as drinkable but more flavorful. Subtle caramel aromas, a coppery pour and a light, malty sweetness paired with hop bitterness will make you rethink your notion of a lager. Enjoy this one with one of those rotisserie pretzels and accompanying Dixie cup of nuclear cheese melt. Cheers.

 

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
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Vinyl On Tap: Pairing Music with Beer

by Kevin SterneDreamville-jcole-4-your-eyez-only-vinyl_grande

Kendrick Lamar has had a stranglehold on the internet for this past month—and the cultural zeitgeist for that matter. But with the wake of Damn. finally levelling, timing is right for other rappers to tip toe the waters. J. Cole’s camp gives us 4 Your Eyez Only, which is not new (2016), but is new on (vinyl and in stock here at Shuga Records).

Though this one doesn’t come with demos or never-heard-before easter eggs, 4 Your Eyez Only on wax is worth seeking out, if not for a memento of hip-hop’s second golden age, but for it being an album that does some heavy lifting, especially on the back end.
“Neighbors” and “Foldin Clothes” are musically dynamic, but more important, culturally critical in digestible bites. The former moves as a meditation on racial profiling while exhibiting arguably the album’s most catchy lyric: “Okay, the neighbors think I’m sellin’ dope.” The latter brings a tinge of Marvin Gaye soul to J. Cole’s inspired effort at being a better man “Baby I wanna do the right thing // Feels so much better than the wrong thing // I wanna fold clothes for you.”

The definitive stand out on the album though is “Change”—a deeply reflective narrative on the cycle of violence and crime in black communities. The song’s main character James McMillian becomes a poignant and somber symbol of this harsh reality. After a Kendrick Lamar-type flow in the early verse, the song ends in a memorial of the dead McMillian. “’Cause that was my nigga James that was slain, he was 22…’”

If “Change” is the album’s most dynamic and emotionally moving, then “Deje Vu” is it’s antithesis. It’s the mainstream winner here with its repetitive, finger-waving, big-dream anthems Aye, put two fingers in the sky if you want it and She fuck with small town niggas, I got bigger dreams. But this second line is where the song shows it’s shallow unravelling. The lyrics are mopey, and one-dimensional—more last-call-at-the-bar throwback than uplifting.

J. Cole’s fourth LP is a back-loaded affair, but these side-B tracks make up for the album’s early numbers in spades. I recommend pairing this one with Double Daisy Cutter by Half-Acre Beer Company. DDC tastes like the brew brains at Half Acre binged several cases of west-coast IPA then gave the original daisy a retry (and the same could be said of J. Cole and Chance the Rapper or Kendrick Lamar). The elder cutter is loaded with tangerine-peal and orange-rind citrus. A touch of malt balances this frothy affair, making it deceptively smooth and drinkable from first sip to last gulp. The ABV here makes this one perfect for this record. Make sure you’re on your second can by the album’s mid-way point so you can ride that buzz through the best tracks.

 
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