I picked up the Ithaca Box of Hops: 12 bottles of four different hoppy beers. I considered writing about them on the blog, and realized I’m most happy with my beer writing when I consider the situation in which I’m drinking the beer. Beer tasting is subjective and influenced by everything from your mood to who you’re with. So, why not lean in to that and listen to a full album while drinking the beer and see what happens?
The music: Turbonegro, Apocalypse Dudes (1998)
The Age of Pamparious
C hops in the nose, as I hear acoustic guitar. Really? I’ve only heard one Turbonegro song — “I Got Erection” — and it didn’t sound like this. It builds, yearning high pitched guitars coming in, as a whisper announces the coming of the Apocalypse Dudes.
This is essentially what I’d expect from a Black IPA, or Cascadian Dark Ale or whatever you feel like calling it. As it finishes there’s actually more roast than I expected: this has moseyed close to the line between Black IPA and American Porter. Dark malt and resinous hops mingle together, sort of like a chocolate animal cracker. This is admittedly influenced by the chocolate animal crackers I had before drinking this (though don’t worry, I cleansed my palate beforehand). The lead track, as well as “Selfdestructo Bust” after it, are exactly what I crave sometimes: loud guitars with shouting. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to understand the lyrics, though I’m not going to pretend I don’t like a little Hatebreed now and then. I have a tendency to get a little up my own ass sometimes, either with indie singer/songwriters or, I don’t know, minimalist composers from the late 60s. Much as I got out of the Fleet Foxes/Lumineers/etc rut I was in by picking up Bad Religion’s Stranger Than Fiction, Apocalypse Dudes is a good counterpoint to the first entry in Music Box. There isn’t much to the beer that I didn’t get at the start: it’s an incredibly well crafted, easy drinking beer. The roast provides just enough balance to not give me palate fatigue: hops blend into char which make me want more hops which gives me more char. I refill my glass (I chose the small goblet I got at Belgium Comes to Cooperstown on purpose) and smell the released aroma. We’re lucky to be so close to Ithaca, because these hops smell fresh.
Rendezvous With Anus
The title of this song reminds me of the scene from The Simpsons where the Flanders kids get hand-me-down clothes, and one of them, wearing a Butthole Surfers shirt, says “Look! I’m a surfer!” The first entry in music box seemed… important? Self important, at least. This one is less navel gazing and more enjoying. A drinkable beer paired with short bursts of sonic aggression. This is less about finding the deeper meaning of life and more about just enjoying it.
Although, ahem: this beer is 9.5%? It… does not taste like it. I wouldn’t have guessed it was above 6.5% myself. This is a very dangerous beer. Drum solo during “Prince of the Rodeo”! Hell yeah. Rock that cymbal bell. There’s nothing about this album that I don’t like. There are times when I just want to hear someone say “motherfucker.” I listen to too much music that I can play around my son.
Are You Ready (For Some Darkness)
When I told my friend Shannon about the Music Box project she immediately said “So you’re going to use Apocalypse Dudes by Turbonegro, right?” I had been planning on filling the punk/hardcore slot with Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, maybe, but I immediately said “Sure!” Shannon doesn’t steer me wrong. I mean, she showed me a video of Glenn Danzig talking about his bookshelf. I wasn’t planning on assigning a beer to each album. Usually in that case I’d make it truly random and assign pairs from a random number generator, but instead I opted to just not put much thought into it. Which beer did I want to drink, and which album did I want to listen to? But when Shannon suggested Turbonegro I said “…so, it should go with the Black IPA, right?”
This song is anthemic, thus far the one I’d recommend to someone if they only had the inclination to listen to one song from the album. The end of “Humiliation Street” is great, though I spent some of it on the phone as well. “Good Head” ends the album proper with a full band rock out that makes me yearn for the days of playing Rock Band, with Shannon politely telling me that my mustachioed drummer avatar Rufus’ chest tattoo of “WP” (for The Woodpeckers, the band he was in) actually meant “White Power.” Whoops. Dan, The Accidental Racist (I just like the number 88 and think white laces on black boots looks cool, what’s your problem?).
I had considered drinking two bottles of Dark Vine while listening to Apocalypse Dudes, especially when it was going down as easily as it had, but at 9.5% I cut myself off after one. It’s currently a Sunday afternoon and I have a kid’s birthday party to go to in a few hours! Sheesh. I’ll have to be content with having finished my beer 3/4 of the way through the album. The connection to Rock Band is solidified by the final bonus track on the Spotify version: a cover of “Suffragette City,” featured in the first installment of the video game. As David Bowie’s words echo in my ears (reminding me that I really have been meaning to watch Labyrinth), I reflect on the second installment of my experiment. Enjoyable all around, leading me to look forward to the final two beers.