Music and Booze: Blackened, Ohms, and Trooper

I’m a huge fan of music but I also love good whiskeys and craft beers. It seems like just about every band is doing a collaboration with a beverage company these days so I wanted to point out a few of my favorite marriages between rock bands and booze purveyors.

Metallica and Blackened Whiskey

“Blackened is the end! Winter it will send! Throwing all you see, into obscurity!” The lyrics from Metallica’s 1988 release “…And Justice For All” paint a bleak picture of humanity’s final days brought upon by its own obsession with nuclear war. The guitar tones are dry with very few effects. The mid range of the record is scooped out of the mix. The drums sound like hammers driving out tribal rhythms in an iron foundry. The vocals are aggressive with very little polish. The bass is mixed so low that fans all over the world have asked for a “Newsted cut” of the record. All this to say - the record is unique and has stood the test of time.

Metallica’s Blackened whiskey paints a different picture than it’s bleaker song namesake. Where the record “…And Justice For All” is known for its lack of balance, Blackened whiskey sounds tastes like it was mixed by Bob Rock, who would go on to produce The Black Album. The initial taste is characteristically whiskey forward, but there are hints of vanilla, cinnamon and cherry (or maybe apricot?) as it sits on your tongue. As you swallow, there is a bit of spice and fume that remind you that you are drinking whiskey put out by a metal band! This whiskey is bold, balanced, and flavor forward. It has become a staple in my bar ever since it’s initial release. Blackened has been “remastered” ever since the passing of the original distilling expert, Dave Pickerell. I’m happy to report that the whiskey is better than ever even though the recipe may have changed. Thankfully, Metallica has decided to leave the “…And Justice For All” mix alone. I would say “Sorry Jason Newsted,” but even the former Metallica bass player agrees that the album should be enjoyed in its original form. I highly recommend drinking Blackened whiskey while listening to Metallica’s “…And Justice For All.”

The Deftones and Belching Beaver

Now you might notice the tone (or should I say ‘deftone’?) of this next review is slightly different than my last review. I love Metallica, so spitting out a bunch of information about them to preview the whiskey was easy. But honestly, I don’t listen to the Deftones much. But hey, I appreciate any alternative metal band that can stand the test of time! They’ve been at it since 1988! The Deftones’ first major release was in 1995 and their most recent album came out in 2020. Again, kudos to a band that clearly does what they want, and has made a career in an industry that is constantly killing off lesser known rock acts.

What I lack in knowledge about The Deftones, I make up in experience with their boozy collaborator, Belching Beaver. This brewery launched in 2012 in San Diego (shout-out to my home-town folks!). I became a big fan right off the bat, especially once I had their Nitro Peanut Butter Milk Stout. It’s almost like beer, peanut butter, coffee, and a milkshake got together and decided to throw a party in your mouth. But back to the subject at hand - the Deftones have collaborated on multiple beers with Belching Beaver. I’ve been lucky enough to try two: The Phantom Bride (IPA) and Ohms (Pale Ale). The Phantom Bride is everything you want in an IPA. It’s bright, hoppy, citrusy, and smooth. There are some tropical flavors that are countered by the mix of Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic hops. When I thought Belching Beaver could do no better than that (after all, IPAs are my favorite), I tried the Ohms. I think finding a good Pale Ale is tough these days. Most breweries are opting to create more IPA varieties since this style is more popular right now, but a good Pale Ale can be a diamond in the rough. Ohms is a diamond, friends. It is a light, refreshing beer with lemon and other citrus notes. The official description also says there is some pineapple in the flavor profile, but I think I just tasted a good amount of sweetness to round out the hoppy flavors. Do yourself a favor - grab The Phantom Bride and the Ohms if you’re ever in a well-stocked bottle shop!

Iron Maiden and Trooper Beer

The first time I heard Iron Maiden, I didn’t quite get it. I thought it was a bit over the top. The soaring vocals, the dazzling guitar harmonies…it was the mid-nineties so maybe I wasn’t ready for it. Also they weren’t that “extreme” like other bands I was starting to enjoy (like Pantera, Slayer…). Cut to high school and I was completely obsessed with the band. I’ve probably seen every YouTube video that exists about the band and I own two signature instruments from members of the band. My Iron Maiden obsession has not stopped since - they were the first metal band I ever saw live and I’ve seen them on just about every tour since 1999. I think every person should see Iron Maiden at least once before they die. They’re beyond good! Their live shows aren’t just about listening to the music, they are an entire experience. The band, which has been playing consistently since the late 1970’s, has never rested on their laurels and is always putting out new, creative records with their signature sound. I freakin’ love Iron Maiden.

In 2013, Robinsons Brewery released the Trooper Ale. It was a collaboration the Brewery and Iron Maiden, with the main collaborator being Bruce Dickinson. Fans of the band know Bruce Dickinson not only for being the voice behind Maiden’s success, but as a true renaissance man. Bruce is a singer, songwriter, pilot, fencing champ, radio DJ, best selling author, and cancer survivor (I’m sure I forgot a few other things). Dickinson’s goal was to create an English style Ale that wasn’t to heavy that would be perfect for enjoying at a pub or at a tailgate for an Iron Maiden concert. When I first had this beer I…didn’t get it. Much like my first experience with Maiden, perhaps I thought it wasn’t extreme enough. After all, as an IPA fan, there is much less in-your-face flavor from an English style ale. However, much like Iron Maiden, this beer has grown to be one of my favorites over the years. It is a staple whenever my friends and I see the band. The Trooper has a nice malty flavor rounded out with a gentle hoppiness. Much like Iron Maiden, Trooper beer tells a story as you enjoy it. It’s a must have for any beer enthusiast.

What band and booze collaborations have you enjoyed? Bullet for my Valentine Mead? Megadeth beer? Post some suggestions that we should try!

I tried the original trooper beer which was decent but I now see they have a bunch of new ones. I may have to dabble with more of the styles that I like (IPA, etc…)

Have you seen John Petrucci lately? He has a new whiskey coming out, Iron Smoke, I believe. His beard is so long and bushy now I half expect a bird to fly out.

I don’t know too many other artists attaching their name to a brewer or distiller. I’m curious to hear more.

Great post Sean! I’m a huge fan of most of these collaborations. I feel like there is the old way of doing things (slap your brand on a product, boom) and there is the new way (actually curate an individual product that is catered to a tasting profile unique to you), and I am so glad that the new way is as active as it is! I can say I have tasted all of the ones you mention and enjoyed them.

Now I have to think of other music collaborations…Heaven’s Door Whiskeys? I’ve tried the Tennessee Whiskey, the Rye, and the Double Oaked Bourbon. What does this have to do with anything? Bob Dylan! All excellent.