Browse through any of the numerous beer publications and blogs out there and you’ll notice a lack of music culture represented. Beer and music culture are so intertwined that it’s always baffled us to see them rarely if ever highlighted together in beer publications. Watching a concert is especially enjoyable when you’re sipping on a tasty brew, and hanging at the bar or the tap room surely isn’t the same when there are no tunes playing over the speakers. So where’s the love?! Of course, all of that stuff is kind of a given, but what has always fascinated us is the deeper relationships between beer and music, and specifically how a love of music comes across in so many areas of the craft beer world.
Whether it be Dogfish Head brewing beers specifically inspired by the Grateful Dead or Miles Davis, Lagunitas sponsoring artists like James McMurtry, or the myriad of breweries that incorporate music into their beer names, labeling and general brand philosophy, the intimate connection between beer and music is undeniable. It is this connection that we are excited to explore in our brand new column Suds & Sounds. Each edition turns the spotlight on a specific brewery, focusing on the role of music in that brewery’s history, packaging, tastes, and in its city or town as a whole. The idea is to get beer and music lovers to connect with a side of the brewery that may often go overlooked, but one that we think is absolutely vital. To accomplish this, we are talking to the brewers themselves about their own love of music and the role it plays in how they approach their beer. And who knows, maybe we’ll even talk to a musicians from time to time to give a perspective from the other side.
‘Beer. Heavy Metal. Denver.’ If their slogan didn’t give it away, there may be no better brewery suited for this column than TRVE Brewing. Music – metal to be exact – has been a vital part of the TRVE’s fabric and philosophy since launching in 2012. At the helm of this metal-loving ship traversing a sea of delicious sours and barrel-aged beers is owner Nick Nunns, who, along with his staff, instill the culture of metal music in everything from the artwork of their bottles as well as around their shotgun style taproom in the Broadway neighborhood of Denver, to the names of their beers, many of which reference bands or heavy metal culture in general. These include their dry-hopped Belgian ale Utukku, an American stout called Stout O))) (get it?), an experimental IPA called Of Wolf And The Devil, and even their latest bottle release, an oak-aged sour petit saison called Melissa, a reference to Mercyful Fate’s brutal, epic album of the same name. Even in the character traits section of their job postings, they specifically say, “You are interested in craft beer and knowledgeable in metal” as a requirement before asking you to list your top 3 albums. Take a look at their staff’s top picks of 2015 and you’ll see why this is important.
For metalheads who also happen to be beer lovers, TRVE is a dream brewery as the almighty power of the music seeps into every aspect of the brewery’s personality. But even metal-hating beer snobs will find it impossible to resist the innovative, high-quality beers being produced at TRVE. Plus, hang out in the taproom long enough and after a few beers you’ll probably find yourself embracing the glorious sounds of blast beats and guitar shredding pouring from the speakers. In fact, their beers have become so popular that TRVE recently opened a 5,000-square-foot production facility called the Acid Temple that includes a ten-barrel system and room for dozens of wooden barrels plus two twenty-barrel stainless-steel fermentation tanks with a goal to bring more of their wild, sour, and barrel-aged beers to the people of Denver.
My own introduction to TRVE was a 2014 metal show when I caught Valient Thorr and EYEHATEGOD at a Great American Beer Festival after-party in Denver. I had never heard of TRVE since it is only available in Denver, but I was excited about a brewery that would proudly help throw a show featuring two of the best metal acts in the scene. I can attest that their beer tasted most excellent while sipped in between moshing to the sludgy riffs of EYEHATEGOD. To give us a closer look at this heavy metal brewery, TRVE owner Nick Nunns took some time to answer some questions about beer, metal, and the his love of both.
For people who may have never heard of your brewery, can you give us a little background on how it started and what kind of beers you specialize in?
TRVE Brewing has been around for about four years now. It began back in the days when a homebrewer could find a little bit of money, buy some equipment, and open their own brewery. Our specialty is in clean and sessionable ales and sour beers. We’re firm believers that when you’re going out to drink, it shouldn’t be huge beers that you can only have a single sip of. Everything we brew is made to be drank by the pint.
How long have you been brewing and what do you consider your greatest triumph so far as a craft brewer?
As it seems to go with endeavors like ours, I’ve had to pull away from the brewhouse in order to work more on growing and maintaining our business. If there’s one achievement I’m particularly proud of these days, it’s getting our new production facility – The Acid Temple – up and running. Having a ten barrel production facility dedicated to sour and wild ales with a Colorado-made brewhouse was a major feat and huge point of pride for us.
Talk about the beer culture a bit in Denver. What do you hope to provide? Do you see the beer scene as being linked in any way to the music scene?
We’re incredibly lucky to have very strong beer and music scenes in Denver. Our hope is that we can be a great representation of both. My hope is for TRVE to be exemplary of the quintessential Denver experience.
A lot of breweries seem to incorporate their own musical tastes into their packaging and presentation, whether it be a collaboration with a band, a tribute label, or a beer name that references something they like. Has you brewery ever done something like this, and if so can you tell us about it?
Our entire ethos at the brewery is to take the music that inspires us and to brew beers as an homage to said music. It’s the founding principle of TRVE Brewing.
In your opinion, is there a particular band or genre that is ideal to listen to while brewing beer?
Despite being heavily influenced by Heavy Metal, we have a diverse array of influences and interests. On any given day you could hear almost any genre of music being played in our brewhouse, though it will more often than not be metal. When you’re in our taproom, it’s definitely always going to be metal.
Is there a hierarchy or system to which employee gets to pick the brewery playlist?
Whoever’s bartending makes the playlist, which means depending on when you come in you may get a totally different experience than the last visit. It can run the whole spread of metal, from grindcore to funeral doom.
Has your brewery ever brought in any bands to play?
Our taproom – being that it’s a shotgun bar – isn’t the best layout for live music. As such, our contribution on the live music front is to sponsor shows at venues around town and to make sure you can get TRVE beer at those venues. We also throw our annual Anniversary Bacchanal, where we’ve been luck enough to have great bands, both local and national, play.
Do you have any musicians or noteworthy people that you can say are fans of any of your beers?
One of the best moments of my brewing career was when Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Discordance Axis, Burnt by the Sun) gave me a high-five after having a taste of Tunnel of Trees, our IPA. I’ve been a fan of his drumming since I’ve been listening to metal, and I’m now not only lucky enough to call him a fan of our beer, but also to call him a great friend in both the circles of craft beer and heavy metal.
TRVE Brewing is located at 227 Broadway #101 in Denver, CO. For hours, beer releases and more visit trvebrewing.com.