Today marks a special day in the life of the BeerCast, and for one of our panellists in particular. Having starred in several of our London-based podcasts, Jess has finally hit the bigtime with the release of her debut album. She has a fantastic amount of talent, and hopefully global domination awaits for her brand of spectral, spook-folk. Rumours of a double A-side with Jess and our much-delayed spoken-word concept LP of podcast highlights have come to nothing (we failed to scrape together enough for even a two-minute single).
All this excitement got me thinking about the relationship between music and beer. The idea of matching our favourite malt-forward beverage with other things is gaining pace – mostly in terms of pairing with different foods – but also beer and whisky combos are gaining pace here in Scotland.* However, why not celebrate the glory of booze with an appropriate song? After all, as Shakespeare noted so accurately in Twelfth Night – “If music be the food of love, play on (with ye cup of imperiale stout)”.
Back in the Bard’s day, of course, the royals and commoners alike loved nothing more than some lute n’ flute action with their jugs of 12% mead. Now, the only real exposure the two have at the same time is the humble pub jukebox – which has long been a divisive subject. As young drinkers first discover pubs, they tend to pick the ones with the loudest music. Over time, this becomes a secondary concern, then purely background, then easy listening, until finally we only ever enter pubs that feature absolute silence (some of us are already there).
Pitched at the right level, pub music – jukebox or otherwise – can be a great addition to any beer-drinking establishment. Of course, the downside is that as with everything else where the general public has a say, the results can be horrendous and unpredictable. We’ve all finished clunking our 50p’s into the slot just as somebody else’s crime against music magically appears, causing narrow-eyed stares from the locals – or much hilarity from all sides.
Maybe the problem with pairing beer and music is exactly that – tastes in the latter are highly individual and varied. Whereas a group of drinkers can happily co-mingle with different alcoholic beverages, any music will be heard by everybody – and therefore disliked by at least one person. For example – over half of the BeerCasters frequent a well-known Edinburgh rock pub purely for the music selection – one I cannot stand. But that’s their choice – I accept that maybe I just don’t understand the appeal of Maroon 5 and Savage Garden.
So, feel free to pair up music and beer styles as an experiment. Gently sup a mild with some easy listening. Take confident swigs of a barley wine with your Breakcore. But remember, as long as you’re in a soundproof room, there won’t be any issues – once other people arrive, you pays your 50p, you takes your chance.
* Other than the half and half, of course – which has been around since the time Scotsmen first learned to walk upright.