Welcome to the New Year! It’s an exciting prospect here at Oliver Brewing Co., we’ve got big plans and cool projects on the horizon. This is the year that we can … no, it’s not a “little engine that could” thing, I mean that we’ll be putting product into cans, hopefully early Spring starting with “3 Lions Ale” and “Balls To The Wall”. We had of course intended to start with “Draft Punk” IPA, but, since we’re obliged to scrap the name we have to come up with a new one (that we can protect) and artwork etc, that’s going to take a while. So 2015 was a big year for me … after 16 years I finally got out of the basement of the Pratt Street Ale House and into our shiny new facility at Shannon Drive. It’s taken some time working out all of the kinks but we’ve made good progress I think and we’ve put out some great beer. We’ve got a long way to go of course, as we continue to settle in and expand our horizons, I hope you’ll come along for the ride. I have to admit that the year hasn’t started too well … I’ve just got back from a brief vacation in the homeland itching to brew, got in at 5am, prepped everything and then discovered that we’ve got no water. It looks like we’ve fallen victim to Baltimore’s archaic water/sewage infrastructure with a water main break on Sinclair Lane, grrrrr! There’s a crew working on it now so hopefully normal service will resume promptly. It wouldn’t hurt if you crossed everything for us though, there’s not a lot we can do without water!
I figured that we’d do our year end lists sort of thing … just to cap off the year before Friday’s “Friday Question” post (speaking of which if you haven’t had a stab at the last one, you’ve still got time, I’ll announce the winner on Friday). As you know, brewing beer has a lot to do with rock and roll for us so I’ll start with music and my favorite vinyl releases of the year that have graced the brewhouse turntable and of course my favourite live shows.
Wax on Wax off Top 10: (in no particular order of merit)
- Ancient Warlocks : 1st (STB Records) … ok, this is cheating a bit I know, this record wasn’t originally released in 2015 but it was re-pressed and released on Halloween and it fucking rules! One of my favorite records of the last few years for sure.
- Monolord : Vænir (Riding Easy Records) All sorts of low end fuzzed up heavy … it’s a rib cracking tooth rattling good time. Sexy double etched coloured vinyl too!
- Spelljammer : Ancient of Days (Riding Easy Records) Slow and heavy, just the way I like it.
- Sweat Lodge : Sweat Lodge (Ripple music) there’s just something about bands from Texas … sweaty riffs and good times right here!
- Various Artists : Electric Ladyland – Redux. (Magnetic Eye). I don’t know how one man operations like Magnetic Eye do it, but they do … consistently releasing killer records. This is Hendrix’s classic album revisited by some of my favorite bands (Mothership, Mos Generator etc.) So good!
- The Sword : High Country (Razor & Tie) Nice 70’s rock feel on The Sword’s latest, a fine collection of tunes.
- Baroness : Purple (Abraxan Hymns) Surviving the things they’ve been through is quite an achievement, producing an album of this stature is cause for much jubilation.
- Wo Fat : Live JuJu (Fuzz Lab Records). Awesome set recorded live at Germany’s Freak Valley Festival. Can’t wait for the new studio record out on Ripple this year.
- Shooting Guns/Hawkeyes : Brothers of the Nod (Helmet Lady Records) You’ve gotta love split records … 2 for the price of one, two killer bands to boot!
- Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats : Night Creeper (Rise Above Records) So fucking good, thats all Ive got to say.
Of course I should continue with Clutch, Windhand, Valkyrie, Ecstatic Vision etc. but I have to stop somewhere I guess.
Live It! Some of the shows that got me all hot and bothered in 2015.
- Baroness @ Metro Gallery. Holy shit balls, that was a euphoric, joyous event.
Baroness. Metro gallery
2. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats @ Baltimore Soundstage. My first time seeing them and they blew me away. Great night (and the cans of Double Duckpin didn’t hurt either, well, not until the next morning!)
3. Clutch @ Pier 6. Yeah we were front and center and it was amazing. What a band!
Clutch Pier 6
4. Electric Wizard @ Soundstage. My ears were ringing for days, ’nuff said!
5. Monolord @ Metro Gallery. I kid you not, I worship this band, so good live and they’re really nice guys to boot, very approachable. Praying that they do a headline tour this year.
Monolord Metro Gallery
6. Destroyer of Light @ The Depot. We brewed a smoked black ale named after the band as one of our final brews at Pratt St., the band came to town on tour, came and drank with us at Pratt St. and then shredded at the Depot. Killer night out!
7. Mos Generator @ Metro Gallery. You can’t go wrong with a band that has a song called “Lonely One Kenobi”. Amazing live as on record and hey, they’re headlining the Sunday night at the Maryland Doom Festival in Frederick this Summer and we happen to be one of the sponsors. Boom.
Mos Generator Metro Gallery
8. Dorthia Cottrell @ Metro Gallery. Jaw droopingly beautiful tunes.
9.The Sword @ The Rock & Roll Hotel. No “Winter’s Wolves” in the set but damn, they kick ass live. Always!
10. My Morning Jacket @ Merriweather. Always a joyous concert and special for me, this was the third time I’ve taken my son William to see MMJ at Merriweather, the first time being his first ever live concert … it’s getting to be a father & son tradition.
Beer Me Predictably I tried a few beers this year, many for the first time (that trip to GABF has a lot to answer for) but I’ve never rated any so my memory is a little foggy. There are a lot of beers that I really enjoy but then there are some that I think “Damn, I wish I’d brewed that!” and two of these were …
Ilkley Brewery “The Mayan” chocolate chipotle stout on cask at the Chesapeake Real Ale Festival. Exquisite balance of flavours and beautifully conditioned.
JW Lees “Manchester Star” strong ale. I picked up a bottle of this during my recent trip to England, drank it and immediately went back for more. Big, bold malt flavours, I got blackcurrant and chocolate and a warming 7.3% abv. Beautiful.
My favorite local beer is probably DuClaw‘s X-9 coffee stout … really nicely done … I drank a lot of this this year (thanks Brandon).
You’re the worst! Here’s a couple that I hated …
Dogfish Head Higher Math. Their 20th Anniversary Ale sucked … yeah, I said it. I bet it’ll be great in a couple of years though!
Ballast Point Peppermint Victory At Sea. Why? Why would they do that to such an amazing beer? I got through a couple of ounces and the rest went down the drain.
Needless to say I came across plenty of casks with seemingly random shit in them that seemed to have no reason to be there, sadly too many to list so we’ll leave that for another day. I truly wish that 2016 would see a move away from the “quirky” cask thing, it really pisses me off.
That’s it from me … Derek will take over tomorrow with his year end review.