Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3rd, 2012 - The Hop Incident

The Meista here with another pairing for you my friends.  In celebration of front man Steve Wilson's birthday today, I thought I would go with a pairing of Porcupine Tree's 2009 album, "The Incident" and Epic Brewing Company's Hopulent India Pale Ale (Release #52).  I chose this pairing specifically for the juxtaposition of the sharp, crisp flavor of the beer against the heaviness and complexity of the album... not to say that the beer isn't complex either or that the album doesn't have it's own juxtaposition of sharpness, crispness, and even ethereal characteristics coupled with heaviness, but as a whole I like the way the beer's flavor counters the album's intensity of emotion.  Does that make sense?

So as the name suggests, Hopulent IPA is a hoppy ale of perfect balance and character.  Fully-loaded with hops, Epic Brewing Company employs Columbus, Chinook and Centennial (a few of my favorite things), and two additions of Simcoe (my favorite!) in the boil, whole-leaf Chinook and Centennial as hopback, and then an additional dry hop treatment of Chinook and Centennial (hells yeah!)  Holy hoplicousness Batman!!  They also use premium Briess Two Row, a near equal amount of Ultra Premium Maris Otter, Weyermann Munic Malt Type 1, and Briess Caramel Malt 20L. to finish it off, which gives the brew a really nice, somewhat sweet complex malty character to balance the over abundance of hops.  It pours a nice, cloudy wheat colored amber with a good, off-white head with sustained lacing.  The nose has notes of citrus and pine with a hop explosion.  Flavor-wise it has a really strong citrus/juniper-hop profile, as you would expect. Coming in at 8.8 to 9.1% ABV (depending on the release), this is a bit of big boy, but the flavor is very crisp and refreshing.  The body is medium to full with a nice, clean finish.  Epic makes several IPAs, but I think the Hopulent may be my favorite.  I think the Hopulent's flavors work perfectly as a pairing with Porcupine Tree's "The Incident."

Porcupine Tree is one of those bands that transcends genres.  They are somewhat of a modern day Pink Floyd in that they really speak to and draw fans from heavy metal, progressive rock/"neo-prog", "alternative" rock, and straight-ahead rock and roll alike.  The 10th album by Porcupine Tree, "The Incident" is an album that truly delivers and again, transcends genres.  It is an album of heavy thematics, intensity, and brilliance along with subtlities and quiet moments of beauty and sadness. 

Here's what Steve Wilson had to say about the general themes and motifs found on the album when he was interviewed about it a while back: “There was a sign saying ‘POLICE – INCIDENT’ and everyone was slowing down to see what had happened... Afterwards, it struck me that ‘incident’ is a very detached word for something so destructive and traumatic for the people involved. And then I had the sensation that the spirit of someone that had died in the accident entered into my car and was sitting next to me. The irony of such a cold expression for such seismic events appealed to me, and I began to pick out other ‘incidents’ reported in the media and news, I wrote about the evacuation of teenage girls from a religious cult in Texas, a family terrorizing its neighbours, a body found floating in a river by some people on a fishing trip, and more. Each song is written in the first person and tries to humanize the detached media reportage.”  Each listen to this album finds me discovering new and exciting nuances, new points of brilliance, and new sounds.  Like the beer, the album starts off nailing you right between the eyes with "Occam's Razor." Songs like "The Blind House," "Drawing The Line," "The Incident," "Time Flies," "Octane Twisted," and "I Drive The Hearse" employ thoughtful, honest, emotional lyrics and wonderful musicianship and songwriting with interesting and complex signature changes and transitions.  And bonus!  There is a second EP disc!  The band's website beautifully sums up the second disc as such: "The self-produced album is completed by four standalone compositions that developed out of band writing sessions last December [2008]- "Flicker," "Bonnie The Cat," "Black Dahlia," and "Remember Me Lover" feature on a separate EP length disc to stress their independence from the song cycle." 

Wilson's vocals and guitar work are perfection - mesmerizing, ethereal at times, explosively heavy at other times - complex and fully encompassing throughout.  Richard Barbieri (of '80s new wave band, Japan fame) balances the heaviness of the guitar and drum work perfectly with his keys and synths.  Colin Edwin's bass guitar and double bass work is rich and robust.  And Gavin Harrison's drums and percussions are solid, driving, and emotional.  Combined, the musicianship on this album is wholly inspiring, engaging, and wonderfully complex.

So put away your domestic, bland, sissy beer and your top 40, radio-friendly mediocrity shite... and grab yourself an Epic Brewing Company Hopulent IPA and pick up a copy of "The Incident." Then prepare yourself for an all-encompassing evening of complexity, flavor, intensity, and profundity from both the beer and the genius that is Porcupine Tree!!  Cheers!!

Oh, check out Epic Brewing Company at

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