Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 20th, 2014 - Black Salted Belgian Chocolate Utopia

Good afternoon my friends!  Your pal the Meista here with another bold and rocking pairing for ya... Derek Sherinian's "Black Utopia" and a Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout from New Belgium Brewing/Perennial Artisan Ales!

Album Info:
  • Artist: Derek Sherinian
  • Title: "Black Utopia"
  • Release date: April 29th, 2003
  • Record company: InsideOut Music
  • Production: Derek Sherinian and Simon Phillips
  • Personnel: Derek Sherinian - keyboards... with guest musicians: Al Di Meola - guitar on tracks 2 and 7; Tony Franklin - fretless bass guitar on tracks 2-9; Jerry Goodman - violin; Steve Lukather - guitar on tracks 4, 5, and 8; Yngwie Malmsteen - guitar on tracks 1, 2, and 6; Billy Sheehan - bass guitar on tracks 2, 6, and 9; Brian Tichy - drums and additional guitars on tracks 2, 3, 6, and 9; and Zakk Wylde - guitar on tracks 3, 6, and 9!
  • Album cover art by: Mattias Noren
  • Major themes: 
  • Musical style: Instrumental, hard rockin', progressive, metal goodness!  Unlike most instrumental albums that tend to be more background music, "Black Utopia" demands your attention and will melt your face along with your speakers!
  • Sound: Heavy-hitting, complex, balanced, fiery, and aggressively intricate keyboards and guitars wonderfully blended with a thunderous rhythm section... all coming together in well-crafted and honest execution.  Hell, the guitar duel on "Axis Of Evil" by Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen alone is worth the album's price!!
  • Notes: Of the album, Sherinian once stated in an interview, "One of the highlights of my career was flying to Miami to produce Yngwie, and the next day Al Di Meola - all for my record!"  You will also notice the humorous sound of a water bong on the song "Stony Days" and at the very end of "Black Utopia".
  • Tracks:
  1. "The Fury"
  2. "The Sons of Anu: i) For The Glory of Enki ii) Of The Ashes of Ur iii) Return of the Nephilim"
  3. "Nightmare Cinema"
  4. "Stony Days"
  5. "Starcycle"
  6. "Axis Of Evil"
  7. "Gypsy Moth"
  8. "Sweet Lament"
  9. "Black Utopia"
Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Collaboration between New Belgium Brewing and Perennial Artisan Ales
  • Website: and
  • Brew: Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout
  • Series: Lips Of Faith
  • Style: American Double/Imperial Stout (salted)
  • Serving: 22 ounce bottle
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • IBUs: 35
  • Ingredients: Belgian yeast, Nugget hops, blended malts (Pale, Munich, Special with Caramel 220, Carafa II/Roasted Chocolate), chocolate, cocoa powder, and salts
  • Pour: Very black... black as "Black Utopia"!  :)  It displays a very thick and frothy mocha head that show good retention and sustained lacing throughout.
  • Nose: Big and bold baker's chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt aromas.  There are also some more subtle fruit ester aromas from the Belgian yeast like soft banana, raisin, and plum.
  • Taste: Initially sweet, the middle pallet of the Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout is bitter and malty with a saltier finish.  There are complex notes of rich, dark chocolate, coffee, soft vanilla, toffee, and just a hint of salt.
  • Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with low carbonation, the Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout is velvety, creamy, and rich with some warming booziness and astringency from the salt and bitter dark chocolate.
  • Finish: Very, very dry... presumably from the salts. 
Overall pairing: The bold, richly textured, complex, and bombastic sound of Sherinian's brilliant "Black Utopia" deserves an ale of similar notability... thus, the Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout!  Both the album and the ale demand you take notice!


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