The Meista here with another pairing for you my fellow rockers and drinkers! Today I'm pairing David Bowie's brand new album, "The Next Day" (deluxe edition) and a Westmalle Trappist Ale Tripel from Brouwerij Westmalle. This pairing is fondly dedicated to my new friends, Justin Meads and Laura McAnany! Cheers you two!! And thank you!!
"The Next Day" is David Bowie's first studio album in 10 years. Although 10 years is WAY too long... it was definitely worth the wait! What an outstanding, beautiful, engrossing, profound, and wonderfully musical album! My silly descriptions cannot do this album justice. I am completely and utterly enthralled! There are elements from his entire career here as well as fresh, new sounds. Producer (and guitarist) Tony Visconti says, "if people are looking for classic Bowie they'll find it on this album, if they're looking for innovative Bowie, new directions, they're going to find that on this album too." Bowie employs multiple voices and characters on this album: a school shooter, a WWII soldier, lovers, losers, and fighters, and aging artists. An amazing cast of musicians appear on "The Next Day" as well: Zachary Alford (drums), Tony Levin (bass/Chapman stick), Gail Ann Dorsey (bass/vocals), Earl Slick (guitars), and Steve Elson (sax/clarinet) - among others. Each song is a perfect microcosm of musical perfection. Of the album, Visconti describes the material as "extremely strong and beautiful." I couldn't agree more! As with the ever-evolving nature of Bowie, he seems to turn away from the past with the obvious disregarding for the cover of the 1977 album, "Heroes" as the album art for "The Next Day."
With "The Next Day" as my inspiration, I needed an equally complex ale... something that would demand attention and present itself not just as a beer, but as an experience... just like Bowie's work! Westmalle Tripel is an authentic Trappist product. It debuted in 1934 and the recipe hasn't changed since. It pours a very cloudy and hazy, golden peach-amber with a frothy, bouldered head that has strong sustaining presence. That froth's sustaining power lasts throughout the drinking experience... from the initial pour to the last drop. The nose is sweet and tart with strong ester notes of white grape, pear, banana, and citrus. There are also some wonderful spice aromas: coriander, nutmeg, clove, and honey. As with the nose, the flavors of the Westmalle Tripel are incredibly complex and engaging. Initially sharp, the flavor expands as it moves across your tongue. There's a bitterness from the hops that is front-and-center that I was not expecting, but I gladly welcome. The Westmalle Trappist monks employ Tettnang, Saaz, and Styrian Goldings hops giving it a nice 39 IBU rating. With each sip, I'm discovering new flavors: sour apple, clove, soft banana, spicy pepper, Westmalle yeast, and more! Amazingly, with all this flavor, the Westmalle monks only use Pilsner malts. As it warms, the bite of the alcohol becomes more prevalent (9.5-9.6% ABV), yet still very refreshing and very drinkable. It has a nice, clean finish and leaves you wanting more... just like "The Next Day"! As with that album, I am completely and utterly enthralled!
Happy drinking and happy rocking! Cheers!!