For five straight nights this week, three of our favorite things come together in a terrific amalgamation of sudsy awesomeness. The Hamilton is presenting the Craft Brewers Conference Concert Series, combining an up-and-coming band with beer from a U.S.-based microbrewery, many of whom are in town for the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference. Sure, you could spend nearly $1,300 to go to the conference – or save your money and head to one of the best music venues in town and enjoy those same brewers’ wares.
Music, beer, and the Hamilton. Sign us up.
Here’s what’s on tap (see what I did there?):
Monday, 3/25: Elephant Revival/New Belgium Brewing
Colorado’s Elephant Revival is fantastic mishmash of folk, bluegrass, and world music (what the kids these days are calling “transcendental folk”) that incorporates five musicians who collectively play just about every instrument known to man. Their most recent release, 2012’s It’s Alive EP, is their best yet, from quiet, haunting ballads to the electrifying instrumental “Tam Lin Set.”
90 minutes north of Elephant Revival’s homebase of Nederland, Colorado is Ft. Collins, home of New Belgium Brewing (though New Belgium recently opened a second brewery in Asheville, NC). Best known for their Fat Tire line as well as Ranger IPA, New Belgium has been turning out great beer since 1989. Founded by brewer Jeff Lebesch, New Belgium is named for the country where Lebesch found the beer upon which he modeled his own while touring the country by bicycle (thus Fat Tire). It’s the perfect companion to a night of great, eclectic acoustic music.
Tuesday 3/26: The Mother Hips/Sierra Nevada
Northern California’s the Mother Hips have been together in one form or another since the early 90s. Early on their music featured extended Widespread Panic-esque jams. In 1998, however, they released Later Days, which had more in common with Uncle Tupelo than any jam band. Since then, a healthy mix of alt-country, 70s rock, and a fair amount of psychedelia have served them well. Their latest album, Pacific Dust, has a classic rock, hangin’-with-your-friends vibe that will be served very well by the beer of the evening.
Sierra Nevada is familiar even to those who don’t drink a lot of beer. Their Pale Ale is the second highest selling craft beer in the country, selling only slightly less than Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Widely regarded as one of the must influential craft brewers founded during the microbrewery boom of the 80’s, Sierra Nevada hasn’t altered their formula much over the years, they’ve only increased it, currently putting out nearly 500,000 barrels per year (and, like New Belgium, they’ll be opening a new brewery in North Carolina).
While the Pale Ale is the gold standard, their recently introduced Torpedo Extra IPA is a hop lovers delight. The beer incorporates the company’s “Hop Torpedo” technology, essentially integrating hop aroma into the beer without additional bitterness. It’ll go well with the oversized 70s sound of The Mother Hips.
Wednesday 3/27: The Revivalists/Abita Brewing Company
As they often are at the Hamilton, the sounds of New Orleans will be on display on Wednesday as horn-driven New Orleans funk powerhouse the Revivalists take the stage. Citing influences ranging from The Radiators to Galactic to Anders Osborne, the group has garnered amazing reviews since forming in 2007. They truly came into their own last year with the release of their third album, City of Sound, an album the Black Keys may have made if they were from the Big Easy rather than Ohio. The Revivalists represent the next generation of New Orleans music, a jumpy mish-mash of funk and rock that will have you moving.
And of course if you’re going to have New Orleans music, you have to have New Orleans beer. Any smart visitor to the Big Easy knows you occasionally have to eschew hurricanes and mint juleps for a Turbodog, the delicious, chocolaty, dark brown ale made by the Abita Brewing Company. Their Spring IPA is a hop-heavy delight as well, but if you’re listening to the sounds of New Orleans, you gotta get the classic New Orleans beer.
Thursday 3/28: Chris Jacobs Band/Heavy Seas Beer
Baltimore’s own Chris Jacobs Band are up Thursday night. For most of his career Jacobs fronted the criminally unheralded blues jam band The Bridge. (You’ve likely heard them as they were featured on a 2002 episode of The Wire.) After 10 years, Jacobs went solo last year and so far the result has been more than fans could hope for. While the sound doesn’t stray far from the Bridge’s bluesy jams, it comes closer to hitting the raw, dirty feel of their astonishing live shows. Expect a great deal of incredible instrumentation and improvisation, but more than anything, some of the best modern blues you’ve heard.
Like Jacobs, Hugh Sisson is another Baltimore pioneer, both as a beer maker and lobbyist; it’s because of Sisson that brewpubs are legal in the state of Maryland. His original creation Clipper City wasn’t selling enough countrywide, so he created the Heavy Seas brand. While the Clipper City beers still exist, it’s the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon American IPA that’s become their “flagship.” Nicknamed “Hop3” (because it’s hopped three times in the brewing process) it’s got a delicious earthy taste that goes perfect with pulled pork, wings, and the blues tunes of Chris Jacobs.
Friday 3/29: Here We Go Magic/Brooklyn Brewery
Because no week of music and beer would be complete without something from Brooklyn, Friday night brings the lo-fi electro-folk of Here We Go Magic, paired with suds from the Brooklyn Brewery. While their latest album, A Different Ship, had people knocking them as a little too Radiohead, it’s important to remember how insanely fun their first two albums were, especially 2009’s Pigeons. A hugely entertaining hodgepodge of fun grooves and happy synths, the music couldn’t help but make you feel good. (“Collector” may have been the best song released that year.) The important thing to remember about the band – and the best reason to see them live – is no one seems to know what they’ll do next, even them.
Founded in 1987 by Steve Hindy (who learned to brew in – of all places – the Middle East), the Brooklyn Brewery didn’t start producing their own beer until 1996 when they converted a former matzo factory (it’s Brooklyn, remember) to a functional brewery. (So for those of you celebrating Passover, you can say the decidedly non-kosher beer you’re drinking at least has a less-than-six-degrees relationship to matzo.) To this day their highlight remains Brooklyn Lager, a throwback to the 45 breweries that existed in Brooklyn in the late 1800’s, most of which turned out Vienna-style lager. The beer is “dry-hopped,” steeping the beer with hops rather than adding them to the end of a boil, which adds to the aroma. They’ll likely have some of their stellar seasonals along as well.
It’s hard to pick which show – or beer – is the highlight of this lineup. The only way to not miss a great night of music and beer is to get to them all.