With the Grain: J. Tillman and a Yuengling Black and Tan

The first and last With the Grain post was published all the way back in August and I think it’s about time to publish another one. This will be my very first time pairing beer and music and my very first time writing about it. I don’t know much about beer tasting, but I do know what I do and do not like. Still, this makes me a bit nervous. I’m pretty sure I can’t do it as well as Jess (New Music Collaborative, Brewery Sessions), but I will give it my best try.

After reaching for a Yuengling Black and Tan, my immediate reaction was to push play on J. Tillman’s 2007 release Cancer and Delirium,  and, more specifically, “When I Light Your Darkened Door.” Black and tans are either a combination of stout and lager, like the more traditional black and tan which is made of Guinness and Bass, but they can also be made with porter and lager as is the case with Yuengling’s Black and Tan. So, when I poured the Yuengling into a glass, its thin dark body and its tan, sandy head instantly reminded me of “When I Light Your Darkened Door” with J. Tillman’s breathy voice and rather stark instrumentation as well as its dark, melancholy mood. The taste matches the track’s vibe too. A hint of sweetness like a caramel, toffee taste and a bitter, vaguely biting flavor of coffee goes nicely with the way Tillman sweetly exposes his broken heart. And, like the track’s musical arrangement which smoothly adds simple layers upon layers, Yuengling’s Black and Tan goes down just as easily.

Purchase Cancer and Delirium

“When I Light Your Darkened Door” – J. Tillman

With the Grain: Summer Ale & Marissa Nadler

I don’t mean to brag….actually, yeah, I do…but, I have some great blogger friends who have agreed to contribute a piece to CFM’s new beer and music pairing feature entitled “With the Grain.” The plan is to run this feature for as long as there is beer, music and willing writers with the intention to deliver a brief regional and international impression of what is making earbuds sing and tastebuds dance.

Our first piece comes from “With the Grain” main contributor, Jessica, who is also writer and editor of the ever so “audiotastic” New Music CollaborativeJess, who is from Boston, MA, isn’t just a music blogger, but a beer aficionado too. And, as you will read below, she combines her two loves to create the perfect pairing for the latter days of summer…

I remember thinking “Cheers to summer” as I snapped this picture on the official first day of the season, and that’s exactly what Brooklyn Brewery‘s Summer Ale and “The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You” are, a salute to the sunnier side. However, there is a bit of heft to both.

The summer ale is a bit different from your typical pilsner or kölch style summer beer because it’s based off of a traditional english style known as a Light Dinner Ale. It’s smooth and refreshing with a crisp citrusy aroma and bit of a bready taste from the malts giving it a medium body. It’s a mellow summer sipper, not a beer that will blow you away, but a welcome change of pace for a patio beer.

Complimentary to the Summer Ale is Marissa Nadler’s song full of poetic sunny imagery, “the sun will turn my hands to gold / more than any alchemist”, but it’s a bit too heavy, mellow, and sad to fit in with the easy-going summer jams. Her voice effortlessly glides over guitars the way you often see dragonflies skimming over the water at the lake. Summer songs come and go, but this one has staying power and I’ll be coming back to it.

Two quick months later and the summer beers are about to be replaced by pumpkin and oktoberfest beers, which means I’m almost ready to put away the summer songs too. But the Summer Ale and “The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You” are apt transition pieces to the autumn as we imbibe the last of the summer sun.

Stream & Purchase album

“The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You”