REVIEW: Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics (Relapse Records)

As sub-cultures go, beer and heavy music are fairly intertwined. You just need to look at the endless number of collab beers between bands and breweries to get a rough idea of how much they enjoy each others company. It’s not even a recent thing either, bands have been swilling beers for as long as the genre has been around, some have even dedicated songs, albums, heck even their whole careers to the suds. Take a look at Tankard, the self-styled Kings Of Beer have made a career out of beer drinking, whilst heavy metal pirates Alestorm just seem intent on drinking your beer and then of course there’s Municipal Waste, who, well… Municipal Waste just want to fuck you up!

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One pool of extreme music that’s always had a funny relationship with beer is the blurred trifecta of hardcore, crust and grind. Engrained in the ethos of all three sub-genres is the need to shun big corporations and encourage a DIY approach – yet mass produced white cider and yellow macro lager are the beverages of choice. In step Trappist, who are the antithesis to stitching a Carlsberg Special Brew bar towel to your battle jacket. Instead, Trappist stick two fingers up to macro swill and yell “NO CORPORATE BEER!”.

For those not engulfed by beer culture, Trappist monks are pretty much the crust punks of the brewing world. They’re self-sufficient individuals who utilise their surroundings and live by the work of their hands. Often these monks brew beers to provide an income for the monasteries they live in. In true DIY style, there a still a number of Trappist brewers who don’t even go in for distribution, instead you have one day a year to head to the abbey to buy a case of beer. Punk. As. Fuck. It also just so happens that Trappist beers are among the best in the world, take Westvleteren 12 for instance, it’s basically the Discharge – Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing of the beer world. 

Beneath the brown habits of crusty hardcore thrashers Trappist are a trio of lifers in the form of Chris Dodge (Spazz, ex-Infest, ex-Despise You, Slap-a-Ham Records and more), Phil Vera (Crom, Despise You, ex-(16)-) and Ryan Harkins (ex-Killed In Action and co-owner of heavy metal-themed burger joint Grill Em’ All). Following on from a few demo tracks posted up on their Bandcamp back in 2017, the LA three piece are now ready to transfer their debut full-length ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’ from the fermenter and serve it up on Relapse Records.

As crusty hardcore efforts go, ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’ is one of the best I’ve heard in a long while. The trio certainly aren’t resting on their past laurels, and don’t play up to crust punk cliches – so if you’re here for songs of war and nuclear annihilation, then you’re in the wrong place. Sure, there are obvious nods to the likes of Anti-Cimex on 750ml pilgrimage gone wrong ‘Victims Of A Bomber Raid’, Dystopia on ‘Garbage Human’ and call to arms ‘No Corporate Beer’ wouldn’t sound a miss in an Infest set, but it’s the dedication to craft beer that really sets this apart.

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Musically the record encompasses a whole host of punk and hardcore sub-genres, opener ‘No Soldier Left Behind’ is a D-Beat ripper, whilst ‘Giving The Boot To Reinheitsgebot’ is a Poison Idea-esque look at the German Purity Laws and ‘Hymn To Ninkasi’ treads more into crossover territory, with a guest appearance from Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan vocalist Tony Foresta. ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’ is rounded out by quest appearances from Steve Brooks of Torche on ’99 Problems (But A Beer Ain’t One)’ and Pig Destroyer’s Blake Harrison on ‘To The Pint’, before rumbling to a dirgy close with ‘Trappist-1: Final Gravity’.

If that wasn’t enough, the extra details in the packaging and marketing for this record are a beer nerds wet dream. The different colours for the vinyl release are graded on the SRM (Standard Reference Method) scale from super limited Belgian Golden Ale: SRM 3 to standard pressing Schwarzbier: SRM 80. To top it all off the band have also done a beer & song pairing for each track on the album (check it out below, it’s white whales galore) and are releasing a Stein beer named after the record in collaboration with Portland, Oregon’s Wayfinder Beer. For those who might not know, a steinbier, or stonebeer, is made by heating rocks over an open flame until it reaches extreme temperatures, then dropping it into the boiling wort. The wort is then flash-boiled and slightly caramelised from this process. As a result the beer has an intensely smooth and balanced malt profile but comes in at Bock strength.

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Ancient Brewing Tactics not enough for you? Check out Trappist’s podcast ‘Hour Of The Barbarian’ for more beery/music chatter. It’s worth it alone for Chris Dodge’s account of playing Obscene Extreme fest with Infest.

Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics is released on Friday August 17th on Relapse Records. Pick it up here if you’re in the UK/EU or here if you’re in the USA. For more on Trappist head to their Facebook page or listen on Bandcamp.

10 Metal Band Beers You Probably Never Knew About

From Iron Maiden to Mastodon and Pig Destroyer to Tankard, every band seems to be partnering up with a brewery and releasing their own beer.

For some bands, it’s turned into a lucrative merchandising outlet and for others it’s just a chance to nerd out and do something with their favourite brewery.

As an introduction to Headbrewers Ball, here’s 10 metal band beers that you might have missed.

The Haunted x Hydra Beer Company

Hydra - TheHauntedMadeMeBrewIt

South Dakota’s Hydra Beer Company have a slew of beers named Immortal, Emperor and Baroness, so it should come as no surprise that they’re probably into metal. The Sioux Falls brewery paired up with Gothenburg’s The Haunted, for the brilliantly named ‘The Haunted Made Me Brew It’, a nod to their 2000 sophomore record. It’s a dank IPA, double dry hopped with Simcoe and Columbus, all wrapped up with a label akin to the band’s classic LP.

Thy Art Is Murder x Anspach & Hobday

Anspach & Thy Art Is Murder

Probably the most unlikely pairing on this list is the sleek London brewery Anspach & Hobday with Aussie deathcore crew Thy Art Is Murder. This 3.5% Black Citra Sour came about after Paul Anspach got chatting to the band after a gig. Simple as that!

Sinister x HappyFace Beers

HAPPYFACE-Sinister

A collab between Dutch death metal masters Sinister and self-styled badass brewery HappyFace Beers. This beer was made exclusively for Sinister’s ‘Syncretism’ album release party back in February 2017. Clocking in at 6%, this stout aptly named ‘Sinister Dark’ was a special edition bottle run for the event.

Fun HappyFace facts: Brewer Rob Zwaan is the tallest man in the Netherlands at 2.23 meters tall and ex-Asphyx / current Soulburn drummer Bob Bagchus sorts out all their merchandise. Bosh!

Venomous Maximus x Brash Brewing Company

Brash - Milk The Venom

Don’t mess with Texas when it comes to BIG stouts. Based in Houston, Brash are one of the best at strong, flavoursome stouts, with a viscosity like Texas Crude. The likes of Vulgar Display Of Power and Hammer Smashed Face really don’t muck around! ‘Milk The Venom’ is a collab with fellow Houstonians Venomous Maximus, and this milk stout packs a real punch, loaded up with coffee, toasted coconut, cinnamon, and chipotle. Bonus points for packaging a beast of a beer into stubbies! Ale Satan.

Entombed x Macken Brewery / Entombed A.D. x Warpigs

Entombed Sverige

Seen as there’s two versions of Entombed, makes sense that each one should have their very own beer.

Alex Hellid’s version of the band wanted to celebrate the Entombed legacy and teamed up with Macken Brewery for a Swedish style Helles; ‘Entombed Sverige’.

Meanwhile, LG Petrov and Entombed A.D. aligned themselves with Copenhagen’s Warpigs for ‘Freeman’. The Swedes went for an Imperial Stout that’s a cross between Mikkeller’s ‘Beer Geek Breakfast’ and 3 Floyds’ ‘Dark Lord’, an incredible combination if ever there was one! To top it off, the band made the most of their brew day and filmed a music video while they were there. LG’s ‘off down the pub with a wad of Kroner’ face is probably the best thing committed to video.

Godflesh x Five-Oh Brew Co

Five Oh Brew Co - New Dark Ages (c:o FOBC on Twitter)

A box fresh ‘New Dark Ages’ bottle. (Image c/o @Five_Oh_Brew_Co)

An off chance Twitter exchange with Justin K Broadrick is what lead to this beer by Prestwich pico-brewery Five-Oh Brew Co. Brewed especially for Godflesh’s Manchester show of the ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’ tour. ‘New Dark Ages’ is a 6.5% industrial black IPA filled with loads of US hops and a sprinkling of Sorachi Ace.

Chris Dodge x Thrash Zone

Thrash Zone - Chris Dodge's Ham Slappin' Aru Chu Ale

As far as names go, ‘Chris Dodge’s Ham Slappin’ Aru Chu Ale’ by Thrash Zone is by far the best beer to grace this list! The 13% barleywine was brewed for Spazz / Infest / Slap-a-Ham Record legend Chris Dodge by Thrash Zone in Yokohama, Japan. Be sure to check out Dodge’s latest project Trappist for more beer themed goodness.

Mutoid Man x Sixpoint Brewery

Sixpoint - Mutoid Ale

Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery really went all out with this Mutoid Man collab. This blood red IPA (check out some pictures, it’s VERY red) was a homage to the bands album ‘Bleeder’. It was also bittered with Warrior and Magnum hops as a nod to then upcoming album ‘War Moans’. To top it off there’s also 14 pounds of the mutant hop Idaho #7 in there too. Bet it tastes delicious!

1349 x Surly Brewing Co x Lervig Aktiebryggeri

1349 collabs

This pair of collabs between Norwegian black metallers 1349, Minnesota’s Surly Brewing Company and Norwegian brewers Lervig Aktiebryggeri are pretty interesting.

One is a 13.49% (see what they did there?) black ale, chock full of freshly ground Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee. The other is intended to be a partner beer to this, clocking in at a devilish 6.66%, it’s a pale ale with Curacao orange peels and lemon peels added to the end of the boil for zesty, tropical citrus flavours.

Integrity x Oliver Brewing Co.

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The hops and the yeast have finally fused as one. A relatively new addition to this list, and a beer that will perhaps elude anyone outside of the US for a long time. Oliver Brewing Co.’s collab with Integrity is a nod to frontman Dwid Hellion’s adopted home in Belgium. Named after most recent album ‘Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume’, the beer was brewed in Baltimore, especially for Decibel’s 2018 Metal & Beer Festival. The Belgian style blonde ale is fermented with Bastogne yeast and dry hopped with Styrian Goldings and Lemondrop.