Dogfish Head continually re-earns its status as one of the world’s most bullishly innovative breweries (see: beer based on the one in King Midas’s tomb; another that required the grains to be chewed and spat out before brewing), so just throwing a little wasabi into an Imperial Pale Ale might not exactly seem like the brewery's reinventing the beer wheel made of sliced beer bread.
But when you’re specifically instructed via handwritten letter from Dogfish brew-honcho Sam Calagione to pair said wasabi beer -- dubbed Rosabi -- with a specially commissioned, 18-minute, four-song vinyl EP, and then you do it, your mind changes a bit.
Here’s a live-blog of the wasabi-est 18 minutes of my life, aside from that time I accidentally snorted it at a sushi place after everyone showed up to watch and paid me money.
T-minus 5 minutes: The back of the record says “A true collaboration of music and beer-making, ROSABI EP features four original compositions from artist Julianna Barwick blended with the sounds -- cycling from brewing through fermentation and packaging -- of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.” Okay!
T-minus 4 minutes: The tracks are "Pure", "Meet You at Midnight", "Two Moons", and "Blood Brothers".
T-minus 3 minutes: Very nice art! Like most great records, I have no idea what it means. Oh man, the disc itself is clear white! That’s not normal.
T-minus 1 minute: Cute picture of Sam and this Julianna girl holding brewing something-or-others, and making silly faces. They thank each other. They really seem to like each other. It’s cute.
T-minus 30 seconds: The best thing about Sam Calagione is that he specifically designed a record so it makes you drink an 8% ABV, 22oz beer in 18 minutes. I should probably start listening and stop typing.
NOW IS WHEN I’M ACTUALLY LISTENING TO THE RECORD. AND DRINKING.
:15: No wasabi in the nose, which is probably a good thing (see above). Oh, there it is on the first sip, though! It’s really subtle. It’s like when you mix it into your soy sauce, which you’re definitely not supposed to do.
:45: Ok, we’ve got some sort of weird chanting going on.
1:35: Mo’ chanting. It’s kinda captivating. This must be the chanting part of the brewing process. It’s like playing Mozart for your plants.
3:30: Now we’re on "Meet You at Midnight". I’m actually supposed to meet my buddy Conor at 9:00, but I’m gonna be late because I’m listening to a record while drinking wasabi beer and taking notes.
3:50: Brewery noises are much cooler than anticipated. And they all mostly sound like chanting.
5:00: More chanting. Very ethereal, which is an overused word, a scourge to which I am contributing. This beer is damn good. It’s interesting how it’s an Imperial Pale Ale, not IPA. You really don’t see a ton of those. Also Imperial Pale Ale sounds like something TIE fighter pilots drink at the bar after a long day of having terrible aim with lasers.
6:30: Chanting, more of it. Actually, it’s really more like if she sang something quick, and then hit the guitar-loop pedal, and it just kept going forever. I really like it. As far as drinking music goes, it’s the opposite of George Thorogood.
7:30: I wonder if this would go better with sushi, or if that’d just be the craziest thing in the entire world including the band Crazy Town.
8:00: FLIP THE SIDE!!!!
8:15: Crap, I’m, like, one-quarter of the way done with this beer, and we’re already halfway through the record.
9:00: I’m Googling, learning stuff about Barwick. Things like she "was born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri", and "her music is built around multiple loops and layers of her voice". SO CALLED IT. Not the Louisiana/Missouri part.
9:15: Still haven’t heard anything that really “sounds like a brewery”, but I guess that’s the point. I don’t know if I expected machines or what. Forklifts crashing into things? People bellowing “pour the hops in now, Cleatus!!”? None of that is happening.
9:30: While I’m very much enjoying it, I couldn’t really see myself drinking five of these beers in a row or anything. But if that was all there was around, I wouldn’t have a problem with drinking eight.
11:04: Wasabi tingle on the upper lip! It’s saved in my mustache!
10:30: The music is in, out, in, out. Very rhythmic. It’s kinda like a Sigur Rós song without Jonsi stealing the spotlight from the music with his totally amazing voice and made-up languages.
11:25: It’s also kinda like the Drive soundtrack, minus all the murder you know is happening.
12:15: Screw it, I’m pumping this up so I can hear more of the brewery stuff.
13:15: Yeah, that's not really working.
14:00: New song. "Two Moons". Jupiter’s like, “Only two? You loser”.
14:15: Okay, this one’s sounding a little different now. Big noises! Haven’t been a lot of these yet. Some sort of organ-something or other, maybe a heavily modified guitar.
14:30: Chanting in the background is quicker now. Captivating. It’s building! If I was on drugs right now, I’d probably be having the time of my life.
15:35: Getting more and more wasabi nose as I go through the beer. And general flavor, too.
16:00: Sounds like something might have just gotten dumped into something else! Brewing!!!
16:30: Meta thought: maybe they’re playing looped ethereal chant music all day long at the Dogfish brewery.
17:00: Definite machine noises happening. I can’t place them, but these are machines. This is the dream right here. It’s odd that it’s my dream, but it’s true.
18:00: Oh man, it’s over! I finished, like, half of my beer. I guess you’re not supposed to be typing the whole time.
18:35: I just realized this girl’s name is BAR-wick. Hahahahahahaha! Crap, this stuff must be pretty strong.