Albums & alcohol

A guide to music and beer pairings

By David C. Obenour

Photo: Choose your weapon: Editor Dave Obenour walks you through beer & music pairings; Photo credit: Tracey Obenour

At the end of every night, after downing drinks and watching bands up and down the Oregon District and then loading into someone’s car for greasy food at Tank’s, is a random house with a fridge, a stereo and a collection of LPs, CDs and cassettes. Entering into my 30s, this doesn’t happen as much as it used to – or it just happens earlier in the night – but it’s always special. Someone is drunkenly flipping through a row of vinyl or scanning CD spines to try and find the perfect album to soundtrack right here and now. Someone else is drunkenly digging through the fridge to find that perfect forgotten bottle of beer to pass around and keep the good mood alive.

But in the light of day, let’s take a moment and think of some pairings that we might be able to have ready for some of these magic moments. Ultimately there are no wrong pairings … unless maybe it’s a Bjork album and a few lukewarm bottles of Miller Highlife. In that case, I’m tired and it’s time to go home.

Oasis Definitely Maybe//Stone Brewing Co.’s Arrogant Bastard

As a beer, it doesn’t get more arrogant than Stone’s Arrogant Bastard. As a band, it doesn’t get more arrogant than the brothers Gallagher. As a listener, it doesn’t get more arrogant than vinyl. “Sound is analog by definition and blah, blah, blah.” You have the hearing of a bat and can absolutely taste every one of those 100 IBUs. You’re also a “Rock n’ Roll Star” who’s going to “Live Forever” just like Liam sang!

Orange Goblin A Eulogy for the Damned//New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk

It would have been really easy to pair beers with only metal albums for this article. Darkness and extremeness are virtues in both arts, after all. While Orange Goblin’s particular kind of nerdery sways more Lovecraft-ian than Renaissance Fest, the spirit is still there. Note: I will actually be doing this pairing in Rockstar Arena’s parking lot when Orange Goblin comes to Dayton on Friday, Oct. 25. Form the party, my brothers!

Frank Zappa Jazz From Hell//Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Censored

I bought Lagunitas Censored without knowing which album I’d pair it with, but as soon as I saw Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell, I knew I’d found the perfect match! For those who don’t know, Frank – along with John Denver – fought vehemently against then vice presidential wife Tipper Gore and her push for greater censorship and labeling of music. YouTube some of the hearings, it’s great fun. Released in 1986, Jazz From Hell is the only all-instrumental album to carry the RIAA’s Parental Advisory sticker in some stores. An advisory of my own: this beer’s much more easy to drink than the album is to listen to.

Various Artists The Blue Box: Blue Note’s Best//North Coast Brewing’s Brother Thelonious

Boxed sets and Best of’s are what you do when you like something but can’t be bothered to invest the time or money in extensive back catalogues. Jazz is hard enough though. Appreciating it is kind of like that ’70s board game, Othello – “a minute to learn a lifetime to master.” Fortunately, drinking this beer helps and with every bottle sold, North Coast makes a donation to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in support of Jazz education.

Guided By Voices Crying Your Knife Away//Rolling Rock’s Extra Pale

I was once fortunate enough to interview Bob in person, and when he asked what beer I’d like he misheard me saying “Dortmunder” and then proceeded to laugh, make plays on the word, and then probably write four songs in his head. So, while there’s a temptation to be clever and do something like pair Bee Thousand with a mead, it wouldn’t have been right. Crying Your Knife Away could be the drunkest live album in the history of commercially-released live albums – still available on CD and LP at Omega as of my last visit. It was Bela Koe-Krompecher’s of Anyway Records birthday. They’d been drinking beer since earlier that morning. Bob thanked Rolling Rock from the stage and also thanked opening band, Appalachian Death Ride, which brings us to…

Appalachian Death Ride Hobo’s Codebook//Jackie O’s Firefly Amber Ale

One’s something from Athens, Ohio, that’s starting to catch on and the others something from Athens, Ohio, that I’d really like to see catch on more. Jackie O’s beers have been popping up in more and more stores and bars around Dayton, and I couldn’t be happier. Appalachian Death Ride’s Chris Biester is an amazingly talented songwriter who’s been making great music directly west of us for the better part of the last four decades.

Buena Vista Social Club S/T//Negra Modelo

“But Negra Modelo’s from Mexico and the musicians from the Buena Vista Social Club were from Cuba.” Yeah, well, there’s a trade embargo or something, isn’t there? If there’s not, then I still couldn’t find any Cuban beers at Belmont Party Supply or Arrow Wines & Spirits, so Negro Modelo it is! Stick a lime in it and change your whole latitude already. “But that’s Corona’s marketing line.” Fine, fine, you can do this next time.

David C. Obenour is the Co-Publisher and Managing Editor of Ghettoblaster Magazine, loves craft beer and has a better CD collection than you. Reach DCP freelance writer David C. Obenour at


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