Brewers are always looking for new ways to innovate – from experimental hops, to barrel ageing in everything from bourbon, cognac, and tequila barrels, to fermentation with wild, local microbes.
But an infusion of music is really something new.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Dock Street Brewery, founded in 1985, was one of America’s first post-Prohibition breweries.
At 30 years old, they’re practically ancient compared to many of today’s newer craft breweries, but they’ve found ways to stay current and relevant – through experimentation.
Dock Street put a golden saison in red wine barrels with wild yeast strain Brettanomyces, then, through a special speaker set up, played the sweet, sweet sounds of Wu Tang Clan to the beer 24/7 for six months.
Arguably one of the best hip hop/rap groups of all time, Wu Tang Clan started making music in New York City in the early 1990s.
Some of their best known songs include Protect Ya Neck, C.R.E.A.M, and, the namesake for this beer, Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit. Have a listen here.
If those songs don’t ring a bell, the names of some of the members might – Ghostface Killah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, to name a few.
Anyhow, back to the beer.
The idea for this beer was that the vibrations from the bass could get the propagating yeast inside these barrels bumpin’ and grindin’ in new ways.
If the yeast are more active and bump into more fermentable sugars in the barrel, they’ll grind them up and produced more booze, more carbon dioxide, and, as these are wild yeast strains, more funk!
As any good scientist knows, to truly understand the impact of your experiment, a control is needed. In this case, a Brett-inoculated red wine-barrel aged saison without the Wu Tang tunes.
And at the beer’s launch event, Dock Street served up both beers side-by-side.
So what was the impact of the Clan on this beer?
According to Dock Street, the rap-infused version was “noticeably more sour, with more characteristics like tropical fruit and barnyard funk present.”
It sounds like this won’t be Dock Street’s only tango with the tunes. Their head brewer, Vince Desrosiers, has mentioned interest in a series of musical infusions in homeage to some of his favorite artists across all genres.
Whose music would you like to hear in your beer? Leave me a note in the comments.