Saturday, April 27, 2013
April 27th, 2013 - The Answer Lies Within The Smoked And Oaked Ale
I'm feeling like something "epic" both in the way of brew and in the way of musical exploration... which leads me to this evening's pairing of progressive metal band extraordinaire, Dream Theater and their epic 2005 album, "Octavarium" along with a Smoked And Oaked Belgian Strong Ale (Release #19) from Epic Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City, Utah!
"Octavarium" is the 8th studio album from Dream Theater and is based around the concept of the musical octave. When the band started writing the album, drummer Mike Portnoy had made note that "Octavarium" would be Dream Theater's 8th studio album and that they had also recently released their 5th live album. This 8 to 5 sequence reflected the octave on a piano with each octave containing eight natural notes and five accidental notes. Portnoy suggested that the band write an entire album based around the 8 to 5 musical approach... and thus, "Octavarium" was born. Also, each song on the album was purposefully written in a different key. Thematically, the lyrics on the album deal with alcoholism ("The Root Of All Evil"), resolve ("The Answer Lies Within"), fear ("Panic Attack"), devotion ("I Walk Beside You"), the September 11th terrorist attacks ("Sacrificed Sons"), and truth ("Never Enough"). The band also wanted to write shorter, more "radio-friendly" songs that still rock. However, by far the longest track on the album (24 minutes) and the title track, "Octavarium" is a progressive rock song in the truest sense of the word. Drawing from their influences of Pink Floyd, Yes, Marillion, Rush, and early, pre-pop Genesis, the band set out (and achieved) to write an epic song that developed thematically and would use multiple transitions and signature changes. There are several references both musically and lyrically to classic prog rock albums and songs. You can definitely hear nuances of "Wish You Were Here," "Close To The Edge," and "Foxtrot." Musically, the band is magnificent! John Petrucci's guitars are soaring: at times ethereal, at times aggressive and crunchy, and always wonderfully rich! Jordan Rudess is an amazing wizard of the keys in the tradition of Wakeman, Emerson, and Lee! John Myung (bass) and Portnoy are a rhythm section of beastly and classic dimensions! And James LaBrie's vocals are fantastic! Probably not my favorite Dream Theater album, but it still packs a wallop... and in a very inviting and accessible kinda way... pure magic!
As with any and all Dream Theater albums, there is a contemplative nature to the music as well as a full-out, raise-your-fist, and bang-your-head, metal sensibility to their style. As such, I needed a beer that could capture that same mood, flavor, and approach... thus, the Smoked And Oaked Belgian Strong Ale from Epic Brewing Company! Wait, what... a smoked Belgian?? Can this be true? Why yes, it is... and a tasty bastard at that! This richly complex ale pours a warm burnt-orange, dark reddish toffee hue with a small, creamy, and tan head that dissipates rather quickly. The nose is smoked cherry wood with a hint of sweet caramel. And that smoky nose hits you right off. This award-winning beast is brewed to perfection with Weyermann Pilsner malts, Ultra-premium Maris Otter Pale malts, Briess Cherry Wood Smoked Malt, Caramel 60, Demerara Rough Cut Candy, and Barley Flakes. (Hot damn!) For hops, Epic sticks with their traditional Belgian-style recipe and employs Perle, Sterling, and Tettnang. They age this bad-boy in whiskey barrels, giving it a nice scotch smoothness and woodsy edge. Now with all those ingredients, let's talk flavor... and it is BIG! Initially, there are sweet notes of dark fruits like plum and fig along with caramel/toffee notes and bready malt that gives way to a smoked and almost meaty flavor (think bacon) that quickly fades and then finishes up with a vanilla bean and a hint of bourbon on the back of the tongue. With the whiskey barrel-aging and the 10.6% ABV, there's some booziness to this ale, but it is well-balanced with those sweet and smoky flavors. Full-bodied and mildly carbonated, there is an almost sticky mouthfeel to the Smoked and Oaked. As complex and big flavored as this ale is, it finishes very clean. Man, this is one crazy good, perfectly unique ale!
Truthfully, I nearly deleted this whole bloody post because I cannot seem to even come close to capturing the brilliance of either this album or this beer with my silly thoughts and words, but what the hell, right? Pick up a copy of Dream Theater's "Octavarium" and grab a Smoked And Oaked Belgian Strong Ale from Epic Brewing Company and draw your own conclusions! :) Check out Epic Brewing Company's Smoked And Oaked Belgian Strong Ale at http://epicbrewing.com/our-beers/exponential-series/item/584-smoked-and-oaked-belgian-strong-ale-release-#19!
Cheers my friends!!
Posted by The Meista at 7:36 PM