The Next Episode

Next Episode WordPress.png

Over the nearly five years since Brew Gentlemen opened its doors, we’ve had time to think about what we want our brewery to be when it grows up. Even though we’ve been quiet about the specifics along the way, we’ve been laying the groundwork for the future of Brew Gentlemen.

This has brought us to our next episode: renovating the warehouse behind our location in Braddock to build a full-scale production brewhouse, in which we will be producing and canning our beer at a greatly increased capacity. All operations in our existing brewery and taproom will continue in tandem in their current form.

Part of our expansion’s purpose – more beer, for more people, in a more convenient way – involves providing meaningful experiences when you visit our brewery. To that end, we’re simultaneously in the process of constructing an outdoor space, BG Open Air, in the courtyard next to our warehouse. The grand opening of this summer pop-up will coincide with our fifth anniversary celebration during the week of May 20th-26th, and it will remain open throughout the warmer months.

Through all of these new developments, we’re proud to be able to double down on investing in Braddock. Many breweries are forced to look elsewhere when they outgrow their original locations, a situation we were fortunate to avoid when the property adjacent to ours became available. We want to be good neighbors, build something special, and continue to reinvest in the historic town that’s become our company’s home.

An expansion of this scale is a monumental undertaking for a brewery of our current size, and those in the industry whom we looked to for advice have unanimously stressed the importance of doing it right the first time. Being deliberate has been a serious test of patience, and we’ve made a number of difficult decisions along the way in the service of our long-term vision. Still, we believe that the course we’ve mapped will provide an ample runway for years to come, allowing us to more fully realize our mission of brewing soft and balanced beers, creating meaningful experiences, and participating in the revitalization of Braddock.

Wheels up.

The Quarterly Update: Q1 2019

Pittsburgh Map Green-01This week, our co-founder and CEO Matt Katase drops by to reflect on the state of Brew Gentlemen as we close out the first quarter of 2019.

More beer for more people in a more convenient way is the gong we’ve been ringing since the beginning of the year in order to broadly summarize our goals for 2019. By now you’ve heard some vague rumblings from us (and potentially some rumors from others) about our expansion plans, but today, as we move into the second quarter, we wanted to talk about what those goals have meant to us.

More beer…
Three months into 2019, we’ve released four new beers in bottles (Hanging Gardens: Raspberry, two Brukfust variants and Awake End) and thirteen new draft beers, four of which were the result of the renewed energy we’ve put toward our Prototype Series. Even though we’ve been operating at full capacity for some time now, we’ve still found ways to experiment within our own constraints.

…For more people…
While we’ve developed close relationships with the handful of accounts we distribute to, part of giving more people access to our beer means expanding to a few more bars and restaurants. We want to be able to share what we make with people who’ve expressed genuine excitement for it.

If there’s somewhere you’d like to see our beer, tell us here. If you’re a bar manager or beer buyer who’s reached out or has already been added to our waitlist, please fill out this form so we know you’re still interested.

…In a more convenient way.
Convenience is an interesting topic – Convenient for who? Convenient for what occasion?

We realize that making a trip to Braddock is still a barrier for some. We knew that would be a factor when we passed on Lawrenceville and the Strip District in our original business plan we wrote back in 2011 (though it’s been great to see so many of our friends thrive in those neighborhoods since then). If you live just far enough away that visiting our taproom requires some effort, then convenience means having more to offer when you make that effort.

In the upcoming quarter, we want to give you more reasons to come to Braddock – whether it’s through exciting one-off Prototype Series releases, taproom programming like Lager & Pong or Beer + Yoga, or some major announcements we’ll be talking about next week.

Stay tuned – there’s lots more on the way.

Alaina’s Three Years

Alaina 3 years Edited SquareWith our GM Alaina Webber celebrating three years with our company, we’re giving her the floor this week to talk a bit about her time here at BG.

Three years ago, Matt, Asa and I sat down over breakfast at Nancy’s Diner in Wilkinsburg, and they officially invited me to join the team as General Manager. Months of discussion led up to the transition from being an occasional Wednesday customer to having my own desk. Now, as a partner, my role has expanded to include work such as operationalizing our values and designing our communication.

One thing that’s remained consistent is being present with people.

Beer has taken me from coast to coast and across the ocean – studying food systems in France with Eating City, gaining inspiration in Toronto at Bellwoods*, touring Allagash and star-gazing after Oxbow’s Goods from the Woods event in Maine, devouring pizza with a bottle of Turbo Bam at The Masonry in Seattle, and spending quiet nights at Proletariat in New York, my favorite city.

All the while, our Braddock taproom remains one of my favorite places in the world. It’s an intentional space – from its physical location on main street to the fresh flowers on the bar. Whether you visit weekly, at the holidays, or in my case, daily, the space is occupied by people who plan on spending time together.

On countless occasions, I’ve quoted Danny Meyer’s foundational book Setting the Table: “Hospitality is the sum of all the thoughtful, caring, gracious things our staff does to make you feel that we are on your side when you are with us.”

It’s easy to think that because we stand behind a bar, we are the ones who practice hospitality. But, truthfully, the last three years for me have been equally marked by receiving a warm welcome – from our team and from you, people who enjoy our beer – as much as extending it.

Brew Gentlemen is comprised of very different individuals – we are practical, conceptual, creative, and technical. Still, in so many ways, our team has shown that they are on my side – which, in turn, gives me courage to exchange a comparable graciousness with strangers (who inevitably become friends!) wherever our beer is poured.

One of my surest convictions is that food and drink belong together as a dual experience – and sharing generously puts people at the center of that picture. Our beer is better alongside brisket, a banh mi, buttermilk fried chicken, and great company. Caring, knowledgeable partners – both those who vend at the taproom and those who run the restaurants and bars we work with and distribute to – are in the arena with us, feeding people well and navigating this business.

On a similar note, our Beer + Yoga teachers Hallie, Becca, and Maryellen have taught me that self-improvement often requires being present in the company of others. At first, I sought out yoga to relax and be alone, but attending a drop-in class quickly multiplied into several sessions per week. Over time, a consistent practice that includes their classes has convinced me: To get stronger, you must first show up.

Operating a brewery, or any business, for that matter, hasn’t gotten (and arguably shouldn’t get) easier over time. Instead, the reward in the work deepens as the problems we want to solve and the change we’re trying to make in the industry comes into clearer focus.

When I consider the last three years, the faces of people who’ve connected with us, along with the conversations and beverages that accompanied those moments, flood my mind and bring a pause. Looking ahead, I’m in awe of how much more there is to share.

You’ve made Brew Gentlemen part of your life, and consequently given me the joy of doing work I love. For both, thank you. If we haven’t met yet, please say hi next time you visit Braddock, or drop us a line in the meantime.

In short, beer is people, and there’s always room at the table.

*A note from Asa, your trusty newsletter author: If this is your favorite brewery newsletter, Bellwoods is ours. Sign up at the bottom of their homepage for a monthly dose of exceptional writing, even if (like us) you don’t live in Toronto.

The Professor

Rob Square webThe man pictured in this photo is Robert Dillman. “The Professor”, as he is known by some, enjoys fine old whiskey, bottomless ramen bowls, and the occasional mosh pit. He’s also our assistant brewer, and the man at the helm of our ultra-small-batch Prototype Series.

Because of its limited size, the series gives us the opportunity to test new techniques that may not be feasible at a production scale. We’re able to dive into unfamiliar territory with new ingredients, as well as learn how ingredients we’re already familiar with interact with each other in different quantities. We’re able to resurrect recipes from our own past and pay homage to classic recipes from elsewhere. All in all, the series gives us an outlet for rapid experimentation and the chance to get immediate, direct feedback from everyone who gets to try these limited runs.

When Rob talks about the Prototype Series and what he’s most excited about, it all comes down to real, high-quality specialty ingredients. Adjuncts like toasted coconut, single-origin coffee, and potent vanilla beans from exotic locales (a few of The Professor’s standbys) can often be far too expensive for routine use – on a small scale, however, we’re free to go hard.

It isn’t always about cost, however – the Prototype Series is often a test site for emergent new hop varietals and yeast strains, or simply new ideas. Many of the successes we’ve had with beers made at production scale began as experiments on this small system: mixed-fermentation saisons laid the groundwork for the Mise en Rose Collection; a particularly excellent coffee milk stout became Deep Breakfast; lupulin powder IPAs, maple stouts, and fruited hop-forward beers all found their way into the bigger mix. 

The newest concoction in the series, Prototype: BluBois Smoov-E, is a 9% ABV double IPA conditioned on blueberries, boysenberries, and Tahitian vanilla beans and subsequently dry-hopped with Mosaic lupulin powder. Catch it on draft today.

The 2019 Spring Lineup

spring seasonals 2018 square.pngOur modern world is a rapidly changing place, dear reader, and change can often be scary and uncomfortable. Sometimes, however, change can be tropical and delicious.

The spring seasonal lineup here at BG has seen a number of alterations over the past few years, and in the spirit of keeping you on your toes, we’ve got a few new upgrades for the coming season. While our spring American IPA Miyabi will stay largely the same, its compatriots Muchos Mahalos and Albatross will be returning in new forms.

Miyabi continues our theme of seasonal IPAs named after the four Japanese philosophies that make up our company values (alongside Shoshin, Kanso, and Kaizen). Meaning elegance or refinement, the concept of Miyabi relates to the elimination of all that is rough or unnecessary. We strive to achieve simplicity and balance in all we do, and a big part of that is the removal of anything and everything that is not completely essential.

Miyabi is an American IPA made with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Loral hops, with a dry and floral character of nectarine, grapefruit, and pine.

Building on last year’s debut of Muchos Mahalos as a mango beer, we’ve doubled down on the tropical vibes by making this year’s version with the Hawaiian holy trinity: passionfruit, orange, and guava (well known in Hawaii by its acronym, POG). Even if a straggling burst of winter inflicts itself upon our fair city midway through spring, Muchos Mahalos serves to inject a restorative burst of Pacific sunshine.

Despite all of that Pacific sunshine, Australian hop farmers have had an increasingly difficult time keeping up with the growing demand for one of their most prized varietals, Galaxy. With nary a bud to go around between America’s ever-expanding number of small brewers, the fate of our all-Galaxy double IPA, Albatross, has been left to the hop gods. Rather than attempt a second-rate facsimile using American-grown alternatives, we decided to keep Albatross rooted in the same geographic region by using hops from nearby New Zealand: this year’s updated version primarily features Motueka hops, one of our all time favorite varietals. With big, bright flavors of fresh flowers, lemon, and lime zest, it appears that the waning availability of Galaxy hops didn’t present much of a problem for Albatross after all.

Catch all three of our new spring seasonals on draft and in growlers in the taproom beginning tomorrow.

The 2019 Release Calendar

Product Calendar 2019

Having established that our theme for 2019 is more beer, for more people, in a more convenient way, now seems like a good time to give a top-down overview of the beers we make and the categories we put them into.

Each beer we make falls into one of several categories:

  • Seasonal: An American IPA, Seasonal Style, and Double IPA for each season that reflect the time of year in which they’re made
  • Occasional: A diverse family of beloved beers that are released consistently throughout the year
  • 15104 Series: New beers marked by the Braddock zip code that highlight creative processes and ingredients
  • BG Lagers: Classic beers that honor rich brewing traditions and techniques
  • Prototypes: Ultra-small-batch, taproom-only beers that allow us to have fun and learn
  • Annual: Extra-special beers we make once per year
  • Mise en Rose Collection: Mixed-culture fermentation ales that are carefully produced, aged in oak, naturally conditioned, and intended to be paired with food and friends

While the diverse collection of beers contained within these categories represent the full spectrum of our brewing philosophy, one beer stands above the rest as the purest manifestation of everything we hold dear: General Braddock’s, our flagship IPA.

The idea of a singular flagship beer is one we’ve come to deeply appreciate and fully embrace. If a flagship product is defined as embodying the expertise, values, and product line of the business, General Braddock’s checks all of those boxes. It’s a beer we’ve spent more time and effort honing than anything else in our portfolio, and it’s our proudest realization of our effort to create soft, balanced, and elegant beers. This is the beer we want to share with the world.

The 2019 SitRep

matt sitrep

This week, our co-founder and CEO Matt Katase drops by to deliver a situation report on the state of Brew Gentlemen and our plans for 2019.

When we look back at the five years we’ve been open, each year has had an overarching theme: 

2014: We finished the renovation and finally opened our doors.

2015: We learned more about the business we had created and took off the training wheels.

2016: We turned our focus inward and became more selective about the projects we took on.

2017: We clarified our mission and core values, making sure we were building a company we could be as proud of as the beer we make.

2018: We made a number of difficult decisions in order to build the foundation for our next chapter.

And whether or not we were aware of it at the time, we did each of these things so that 2019 could be about more beer, for more people, in a more convenient way.

It’s been difficult to remain so deliberately quiet this past year because of the big projects we’ve had in the works. At certain times, we’ve felt disconnected from the beer world and the friends and relationships we’ve built within it. Being isolated when you’re operating in an inherently social industry is tough. Sometimes you have to unplug to focus, though.

The beer industry has changed drastically in the nearly five years that we’ve been open. For many, this industry has become an escape from the corporate world, a second career, or a hobby-turned-job – and it’s wonderful that this industry can provide that. For us, however, it’s all we’ve ever known – we’re in this for the long haul, and we want to make sure our minds, bodies and health are as well. Sometimes that means making the hard calls in the short term in order to see our long term vision through.

Part of that vision involves building a good community and culture around our company. Creating and maintaining a healthy environment and being a great place to work has been a big priority. At the end of the day, it’s all about people.

It’s been incredible to see our company become a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts, thanks to having such a strong team full of wonderful people. External reassurances – things like seeing General Braddock’s consistently rank as one of the best IPAs in the country or being recently named the best brewery in Pennsylvania by Thrillist – help remind us we’ve made some reasonably good decisions along the way. As the Thrillist article mentioned, there’s “no gimmicks, attempts at trend chasing, or half baked efforts.” That’s a reputation we can be proud of.

As we step into the new year, it’s a great chance to remind ourselves to stay the course and remain true to the values that got us here: To keep learning, never stop improving, strive for simplicity, and do so elegantly.

We hope to soon share more about all that we’ve been working on. Our mission is to create soft, balanced and elegant beers and meaningful experiences while helping revitalize the town of Braddock and we’re aiming for exactly that.

So let’s do this, 2019 – more beer, for more people, in a more convenient way.

Cheers,

Matt Katase, Co-Founder & CEO

P.S. – We’re also going to be hiring more this year. Drop us a line if you’re interested in being part of the team – serious inquiries only, please.

5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of In 2018

Headphones 2018 square

As 2018 comes to a close, we give you one of our most beloved traditions: our year-end album list. For a look back at previous installments, check out our lists from 201420152016, and 2017.

We don’t necessarily assert that these five albums are the best albums of the year, as authoritative lists like that are best left to music blogs and magazines. They are merely the ones we played the hell out of, a glimpse into an important part of our company culture: our collective soundtrack.


So without further ado, here are 5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of In 2018.

coheed

1. Coheed & Cambria – Unheavenly Creatures [2018]

I’m not going to lie to you, dear reader – this right here is some penultimately nerdy shit. Even for a band whose defining feature is a career-spanning sci-fi comic book story arc on which all (except one) of their albums are based, their ninth release toes the guilty pleasure line.

Broader in scope than their previous work but sticking to their unique value proposition, Unheavenly Creatures is a grandiose space opera that cherry-picks sonic elements from a wide spectrum of genres. Progressive metal remains the core architecture, laced with bouncy major-key pop, soaring arena rock riffs, and fiendishly catchy power ballad choruses. The majority of the album’s fifteen tracks top five minutes and feature multiple movements – even for the resilient, this thing is a visceral and rewarding undertaking.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Unheavenly Creatures [4:14]

shakeygraves

2. Shakey Graves – Can’t Wake Up [2018]

“Next album. New sound. Sell your suspenders”. While Texas songwriter Shakey Graves was crystal clear about the major change in direction he’d be taking for 2018’s Can’t Wake Up, the finished product is anything but clear. A back catalog of finger-picking campfire tunes are traded for additional personnel and production techniques, built up in deliberately misaligned layers to create a hazy, sometimes uncomfortable fever dream. Vocals are double-tracked and ever so slightly out of sync, backed with dissonant harmonies and queasy psychedelic guitar effects. Vintage analog keyboard organs (like the Mellotron and Optigan) add a crackly flair reminiscent of a haunted Disney carnival.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Counting Sheep [4:56]

pusha t

3. Pusha T – DAYTONA [2018]

Pusha T, now 41 years old and having spent the past three as the president of Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, is an adult in a room full of children. His concise seven-track release DAYTONA is the work of a stone-faced technician who wastes zero syllables. While his subject matter isn’t necessarily groundbreaking (mostly odes to the opulence of ill-gotten gains and swipes at adversaries), Pusha demonstrates an uncanny level of precision control over his medium. He’s venomously clever but never plays the funnyman.

Kanye’s production is as zoned-in as Pusha’s delivery. Murky, minimal Yeezus-style beats pop in and out of a patchwork of obscure samples and airtight transitions. DAYTONA is the work of two professionals who require precisely twenty-one minutes to slaughter the opposition and see no use in running up the scoreboard.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: If You Know You Know [3:22]

lane8

4. Lane 8 – Summer 2018 Mixtape [2018]

One might make the reasonable assumption that 77 tracks spanning more than five hours of runtime is too damned long for an album. But as evidenced by Denver-based DJ Lane 8’s Summer 2018 Mixtape, when those 77 tracks are woven so seamlessly together, those five hours fly by.

Lane 8’s sprawling seasonal mixes are always well-crafted, but this summer’s edition stands out as special. Combining unreleased tracks from his own catalog with ID-IDs from other emerging electronic artists from his own This Never Happened label, Summer 2018 Mixtape is a warm, enveloping, and immersive journey that requires only as much attention as you’re willing to give it at any given time – the subtle details peek through when sought out and blending back into the lush landscape.

If you’re only going to listen to one song, begin at the beginning and enjoy the ride.[5:17:13]

front bottoms

5. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk [2013]

In stark contrast to the four incredibly buttoned-up albums already mentioned, The Front Bottoms’ 2013 release Talon of the Hawk sounds like an collection of raw demos: vocals with the consonant-heavy diction characteristic of early-2000s pop punk, lyrics with the brutal vulnerability of an unedited inner monologue, spastic (but never sloppy) drum beats, the ever-present hum of a lead acoustic guitar, and a few sparse, tasteful xylophone or trumpet riffs for color. The final product feels like drunken, rambling overshare about one’s hopes and fears to old friends after the house party has long since died down.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Twin Size Mattress [4:25]

Honorable Mentions: Our Individual Picks

ASA’S PICK: Pantera – Cowboys From Hell [1990]

Rediscovering Pantera’s 1990 classic Cowboys From Hell was a musical high point of 2018. The Texas groove-metal pioneers toiled away in obscurity for the better part of the 1980s before dropping this genre-defining gut punch, paving the way for nineties metal when everyone else was yarling along to grunge. A relentlessly heavy record that makes the most of its eighties metal influences, often combining a crushing barrage of thrash riffs and technical guitar work with a galloping, mid-tempo rhythm section. The vocals span a similar range, alternating between a guttural growl and theatrical glam-rock vibrato. Cowboys From Hell is auditory cocaine: a lucid, addictive burst of raw energy that still sounds razor-sharp nearly thirty years later.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Domination [5:05]

MATT’S PICK: Ryan Davis – 18CAST [2018]

Hardly anyone knows how to tell a story with a DJ set. Ryan Davis (and his ongoing mission of promoting more depth in electronic music), does that and more with 18Cast, his once a year podcast. This beautiful and masterfully created mix increases the intensity from song to song, taking the listener on a vivid journey from getting out of bed in the morning, lounging in the afternoon, going out dancing at night, staying out til the sunrise, all back to crawling into bed to dream about the memories you just created.

I listen to mixes nearly every day, and this was the one I couldn’t stop coming back to in 2018.

If you’re only going to listen to one song, begin at the beginning and enjoy the ride.

BREWHOUSE PICK: Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed? [2018]

After a five-year hiatus, the Chicagoan legends of horror rock return with their ninth studio album. Is This Thing Cursed? combines threads from the Trio’s entire discography, replete with aggressive anthems and dark love songs. It spins from haunting piano interludes into signature distortion and heavy bass lines, and then culminates with soaring vocals and acoustic heartbreak.

The album takes listeners on an adventure through the band’s 20+ year tenure with underlying themes of joyous rebellion, addiction and depression, and how to grow old in a punk rock band… in other words, a nice cuvée of nostalgia and progress.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Goodbye Fire Island [3:32]

5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of In 2017

Headphones 2017 square

As we approach the conclusion of 2017, it’s time once again to bust out the headphones and compile our year-end album list. Check out our previous installments from 2014, 2015, and 2016.

We don’t necessarily assert that these five albums are the best albums of the year, as authoritative lists like that are best left to music blogs and magazines. They are merely the ones we played the hell out of, a glimpse into an important part of our company culture: our collective soundtrack.

So without further ado, here are 5 Albums We Played The Hell Out Of In 2017.

pinegrove

1. Pinegrove – Cardinal [2016]

Pinegrove exists in a world of hybrid genres. Labels like alternative-country and indie-folk are certainly appropriate catch-alls, but if you factored in everything else that’s going on throughout the New Jersey band’s concise but impactful first album, you’d be left with some serious word salad. Garage-Americana? Punk for sitting cross-legged on your living room rug?

Cardinal is music about memories, friendships, and home – subjects that may not come as a surprise from a band whose promotional photos look like a brochure for a small liberal arts college. But that youthful energy comes across as thoroughly genuine – frontman Evan Stephens Hall’s vocals are intimate and vulnerable, full of quiet disclosures, pleading yelps and a unique, rolling drawl.

There’s a low-fi warmth to Cardinal. Muted, quarter-note-downstrums (normally the bread and butter of pop-punk rhythm guitar) give way to soaring, Built to Spill-style riffs and some tastefully minimal banjo twang. For an album that takes the listener so many places in such a short period of time, Cardinal somehow feels complete, cohesive and intensely familiar. And familiar is exactly how an album about growing up should feel.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Old Friends [3:30]

lcd soundsystem

2. LCD Soundsystem – american dream [2017]

Whatever your opinion of LCD Soundsystem, it’s safe to say that they’re very proficient at three things: crunchy, booming synth-bass, cynical scrutiny of modern society, and the slow build.

As such, american dream is not about finding it and living happily ever after. It’s dark and cavernous, illuminated only by the light of bizarre little art-rock blips and retro-futuristic beats. Compositions are deliberately paced and incrementally layered, often opening with simple, repetitive riffs that gradually balloon into sweeping maximalism. It’s as jarringly dissonant as it is eminently danceable, sometimes simultaneously.

If detached, sardonic wit was the only thing american dream had to offer, few would have hailed the return of a band whose most recent album was seven years and a breakup ago. Fortunately for us, we’ve been given an appropriately neurotic soundtrack to wash it all down.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Oh Baby [5:49]

kendrick

3. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. [2017]

Overwhelming ambition is one of Kendrick Lamar’s most defining qualities, a feature that’s presented itself in more abstract and experimental ways on the his previous two critically deified albums. On 2017’s DAMN., however, we get the full level of versatility and theatre that we’ve come to expect from the Compton prodigy, but in a much more accessible package. Where his previous work felt like an arthouse documentary, DAMN. takes the autobiography in a tighter and more lucid direction.

DAMN.‘s balance and refinement doesn’t come at the cost of depth or complexity. We’re still getting Kendrick at his weirdest and most cerebral, but this time alongside a savvy and intentional selection of producers grinding out some well-polished trunk-rattlers.

It’s rare to see the majority of mainstream music publications agree on the best album of a given year. Given that DAMN. could be found at the top of nearly every list, it’s safe to say Kendrick Lamar continues to bat a thousand.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: DNA [4:45]

carlin

4. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – Blueprint for Armageddon [2013-2015]

We’re going to temporarily loosen the definition of ‘album’ to mean ‘collection of audio recordings’ for the sake of this entry’s inclusion. Released in six parts and totaling over twenty three hours in length, Blueprint for Armageddon is the entire start-to-finish story of World War One.

For those of you who aren’t diehard history buffs, that may sound absolutely insufferable. If you’re familiar with Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, however, you’ll know this is not some dry, academic lecture. Carlin’s delivery is conversational and full of enthusiasm, bringing context and color to an expansive, complex topic.

Blueprint, at its core, is about a world unprepared for its own future. Major industrial developments of the time allowed military technology to advance far more quickly than tactics; simply put, the most powerful nations on the planet went to war in tangled alliances using next-century weapons but completely outdated methods of waging war. This utterly catastrophic combination reshaped human history, catapulting us into the 20th century and laying the groundwork for the modern era.

If you’re only going to listen to one part, begin at the beginning and buckle up. [3:07:20]

cornell

5. The Grateful Dead – Cornell 5/8/77 [1977/2017]

If you enjoy a good, hearty jam session but have neither the patience nor the psychedelic fortitude to sit through the stoned-out, atonal noodlings of acid-era Grateful Dead shows, this one’s for you. Perhaps the most replicated and exchanged live recording on the ‘blanks and postage’ circuit, the Dead’s May 1977 concert at Cornell University is the stuff of legend (as evidenced by its 2012 induction into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry and official 2017 release).

It’s an amazingly crisp recording of the band at their tightest, featuring nearly every element of their signature eclectic sound – Americana, space jazz, outlaw country, and everything in between. But 5/8/77 is not merely a demonstration of breadth – it’s well-structured emotional arc that paints a unique, continuous, and thoroughly enjoyable landscape for the audience.

If you’re only going to listen to one song, make it two: Scarlet Begonias / Fire on the Mountain [26:01]

Honorable Mentions: Our Individual Picks

ASA’S PICK: Croquet Club – Love Exposure [2016]

This short, sunny EP from French producer Croquet Club is without a doubt the most played vinyl record in our collection. It’s a versatile album that’s calming yet infectiously bouncy, weaving a thread of soft, airy piano through a lush, ambient electronic soundscape of downtempo grooves and sequencer loops.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: Careless Love [4:54]

MATT’S PICK: 16 Bit Lolitas – ABGT250 (Live DJ Set) [2017]

Rather than an album, this year’s pick is incredibly introspective live DJ set by one half of Dutch DJ/producer duo 16 Bit Lolitas. The Gorge Amphitheater in Washington state, one of the most scenic concert locations in the world, was the perfect setting for 16 Bit Lolitas to take us on an emotional, hypnotic, and soulful journey.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: L. Doblado – Lie Alone (16 Bit Lolitas Remix) [5:37]

BREWHOUSE PICK: The National – Sleep Well Beast [2017]

The National’s 7th studio album is their most unique and progressive album to date. The signature ethereal baritone and haunting, resonant piano arrangements are still present, but this time flanked by looser, more experimental compositions and liberal electronic intervention.

If you’re only going to listen to one song: The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness [3:56]

Lou 2017

Those of you who have been along for this ride for more than a year or so now may recall our past involvement with Ales for ALS, and our annually-released double IPA, Lou (named for baseball legend and ALS victim Lou Gehrig). Ales for ALS is a unique program wherein participating brewers around the country are given access to a proprietary blend of hops, and a portion of the proceeds from the resulting beers are donated to ALS research.

When we first announced our participation in Ales for ALS three years ago, we spoke about our longtime fraternity advisor and mentor, Bob Dax, who had been diagnosed with the horrific neurodegenerative disease. We were connected with Ales for ALS through our fraternity’s philanthropic work following Dax’s diagnosis, and have since been making Lou in his honor. Two months ago, Bob Dax sadly lost his battle with ALS.

Now more than ever, we’re honored to be a part of Ales for ALS and contribute to the terrific work being done by the ALS Therapy Development Institute, the world leader in ALS research.

This year’s edition of Lou features flavors of mango, passionfruit, lemon, and pine, and will be available in our taproom beginning this week. We’ll be donating $1 from each draft sold (plus $0.50/6oz, $2/750mL, and $3/2L) to the ALS TDI.