Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5th, 2013 - Straight Up Celestial Metal

Good afternoon!  The Meista here pairing a Straight Up Saison (Release #10) from Epic Brewing Company and Pagan's Mind's "Celestial Entrance."  This pairing goes out to my friend Jesse Nielsen as well as my friend Jeff, who runs the amazing prog metal/rock page, Progressive Power:  He recently posted a Pagan's Mind track on the page, which got me wanting to pair this great album with a brew!  Cheers and thanks Jeff!!

According to the Epic website, Straight Up Saison is brewed with barley, oats and wheat.  "This hazy yellow offering’s silky texture is offset by its high level of carbonation. More spice complexity and malt sweetness refresh the tongue as the wheat and yeast work together to finish dry and slightly sour."  Epic employs Weyermann Pilsner as the base malt, Muntons Wheat Malt, and Briess Flaked Oats for this Saison along with the traditional hops found in many Belgian beers: Premiant, Tettnang, and Sterling.  The 10th release offers a "new yeast strain that is more fruity and peppery than past releases.  As a result, notes of tropical fruit, cloves and peppercorn tease the pallet along with floral notes on the nose."  The Straight Up Saison pours a very hazy, golden amber with a bright white, foamy head in a frosted glass.  The ale is light-bodied with good carbonation and a frothy mouthfeel.  The nose is exactly what you would expect from a good Saison... floral, an abundance of yeast notes, and fruit ester notes with a slight sourness.  The flavor is great... complex, yet very refreshing.  There are notes of citrus, apple cider, banana, pink bubble gum, and complex spices like clove, nutmeg and coriander.  On the back of the tongue you get almost a mango flavor blended with sourdough bread.  The finish is clean and somewhat dry with a little bit of lemony tartness.  Coming in at 6.7-6.8% ABV, the Straight Up Saison is a perfectly balanced ale that isn't too strong but still rocks!

Released in 2002, "Celestial Entrance" is the second album by Norwegian progressive/power metal band Pagan's Mind.  In the vein of Symphony X, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Kamelot, Star One, and Ayreon, Pagan's Mind is a truly progressive metal band in every sense of idea.  The majority of their music on "Celestial Entrance" (just look at the album art) is inspired by the 1994 sci-fi film Stargate. In an interview, frontman Nils K. Rue said: "I wouldn't say I like the TV series Stargate, because I never saw an entire episode of that. But I really like the film Stargate. Of course, I took some inspiration from that..."  Okay, admittedly, that is a bit nerdy, but these bad-asses rock none-the-less!  These boys have got chops!!  Jørn Viggo Lofstad's guitar work along with Ronny Tegner's keyboards is fantastic, inspiring, soaring... definitely in the ranks of Petrucci and Rudess.  The rhythm section of Steinar Krokmo (bass) and Stian Kristoffersen (drums) is an equally impressive thunderous beast and Rue's vocal range is just amazing and breathtaking... like LaBrie, Dickinson, and Allen!   Songs like "Through Osiris' Eyes," "Entrance - Stargate," "Dimensions Of Fire," "Dreamscape Lucidity," "The Prophesy Of Pleiades," and "Back To The Magic Of Childhood" (parts one and two) are wonderfully composed power rockers!  Fast-paced, intricate, complex, and rocking... all characteristics of this album, which is great with the wonderful flavors of the Straight Up Saison!

If you are into progressive/power metal and you have not checked out Pagan's Mind, do yourself a favor and pick up one of their albums.  And don't forget to grab an Epic Straight Up Saison to go along with it for some straight up rocking!!   Cheers!!

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