In response to my curiosity, there just had to be a list.
Because of the international appeal of jazz, many breweries have honored the most esteemed musicians of this genre by naming a few of their beers after them. Below are seven of my favorite jazz musicians and the beer named after them.
The first two beers listed are the only ones I’ve experienced: Brother Thelonious (Monk, pianist and composer) by North Coast, and Bitches Brew (the classic Miles Davis album) by Dogfish Head.
I’d like to see a beer dedicated to Kamasi Washington, but then again I realize few of my readers are jazz fans, and Iron Maiden’s beer probably has better sales potential. Maroon 5 Low Calorie Amber, anyone?
Today Pints&union is tapping a sixth barrel of Dogfish Head Wood-Aged Bitches Brew. From opening at 2 p.m. through 5 p.m., there’ll be a musical soundtrack of Miles Davis to accompany your sipping pleasure.
Originally brewed in honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of Miles Davis’ 1970 landmark Jazz fusion record Bitches Brew, our ‘remix’ is a gustatory tribute to that analog masterpiece.
Much like Jazz fusion, which blends different musical styles, our Wood-Aged Bitches Brew is a fusion of three threads of Imperial Stout aged on oak and one thread of Tej – a native African honey beer – aged on Palo.
The result is a roasty brew chock full of aromas of vanilla, licorice and chocolate, while you’ll find notes of sweet roast coffee with every sip. It’s slightly dry in the mouthfeel with a mild bitterness that make it the perfect sipper.
As for the groundbreaking album itself, Paul Tingen goes deep at Jazz Times.
Miles Davis and the Making of Bitches Brew: Sorcerer’s Brew
The story behind the seminal jazz-rock album Bitches Brew
August of 1969 marked Miles Davis’ boldest venture yet into undiscovered country. This time there was no more holding back, no more tentative experimentation, no more “walking on eggshells.” The album that emerged, Bitches Brew, was groundbreaking, beginning with its stark title and Abdul Mati Klarwein’s memorable cover painting. Made on Miles’ personal invitation, Klarwein’s expressionistic work captured the zeitgeist of free love and flower power, depicting a naked black couple looking expectantly at an ocean, a huge vibrant, red flower beside them. The background of the title is unknown, but a clue is provided by the absence of an apostrophe at the end of the word “bitches,” making “brew” a verb, not a noun. Carlos Santana speculated that the album was a “tribute” to “the cosmic ladies” who surrounded Miles at the time and introduce him to some of the music, clothes, and attitudes of the ’60s counterculture. Gary Tomlinson, on the other hand, assumed that “bitches” referred to the musicians themselves. Just like “motherfucker,” the term “bitch” can be used as an accolade in African-American vernacular. Whatever the title meant, it sounded provocative. Teo Macero remarked, “The word ‘bitches,’ you know, probably that was the first time a title like that was ever used. The title fit the music, the cover fit the music.”
The music on Bitches Brew is indeed provocative, and extraordinary …
The trumpeter’s reinvention had a little in common with Bob Dylan’s “electric” controversy at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, and Bitches Brew received mixed reviews at inception.
Miles’s embrace of electricity split the jazz world between excitement and contempt but he remained unrepentant. “I had seen the way to the future and I was going for it like I had always done,” he reflected later. “I had to change course to continue to love what I was playing.”
There’s probably an analogy to be attempted somewhere with New England-style “Hazy” IPA or peanut butter and jelly beers. If so, you can make it. I’m busy listening.