Rock Hops: Serving Great Beer and Great Music
- By Andrew D
- Published on August 02, 2012
|Photo Courtesy of Dark Star Orchestra|
It's no secret that music and beer make a great combination, and that's precisely why venues can continue to swindle concertgoers with $7.00 Budweisers. No more -- at least for a day!
The Rock Hops Festival in Mercer County Park, NJ hopes to excite your ears and taste buds as the craft beer scene continues to explode in the United States.
Rock Hops is a one-day craft beer and music festival taking place on August 11 headlined by Dark Star Orchestra. This unique event will serve over 30 different craft beers, feature five excellent bands and host a number of seminars and talks.
[BUY tickets and find more information on Rock Hops at the festival's official website.]
We chatted with John Holl, one of the beer curators of Rock Hops, to discuss the connection between beer and music and what fans can expect out of the festival.
Headstash Magazine: At Rock Hops you're giving a seminar on how music has influenced craft beer. Without giving too much away, could you give us a preview of what to expect?
John Holl: Musicians and brewers are both really creative people. They're working to inspire other people. Both bring a lot of joy to people in different ways, so I think the two of them go hand in hand. And we see a lot of beers that have been inspired by music.
A lot of the brewers have music on in the background while they're doing their thing. It can lead to inspiration in the brew kettle. Breweries like Dogfish Head have actually put out collaboration beers and other companies have some inspired by Pearl Jam and Miles Davis. There's a brewery out in Oregon called Upright named after the instrument that Charles Mingus played.
So there's a lot of sharing between two the worlds. It might not be immediately obvious to people that the two share so much in common. So hopefully, I can shed some light on that in the discussion.
HM: What can craft beer fans expect to see at Rock Hops and what was your thought process in selecting the beers?
JH: I worked with John Kleinchester of beertography.com and he and I put together a list that is a little bit different than what you would normally see at a music festival. We have a couple of oak-aged beers, some fruit inspired beers and there are some sours.
It's a little more sophisticated than some of the festivals that are out there. That's not to knock them. But I think we're entering a new era where consumers and people who go to beer festivals are a little more discerning and are looking for something that's a little bit different. We have most of the styles represented -- everything from Baltic Porters to Double IPAs, which is a lot of fun.
The other thing that I like about this is that the beers we picked are accessible as well. People who aren't into craft beer or who might be coming for the bands can walk away interested in learning more about beer. The beers that we have they can actually get when they leave the festival. It's not that they are so rare and extreme that it's a one-and-done deal.
These are beers we think people will enjoy once they leave and hopefully they will be inspired to seek out some of these breweries and brands and keep the party going well after Rock Hops is over.
HM: That's awesome. I know the West Coast is considered home to the lion's share of craft breweries. But what is it that makes the Tri-state craft beer scene unique?
JH: Well, I think with 2,000 breweries in the country right now -- sure there are a lot out on the West Coast, but in the Tri-state area, it's really coming into it's own in the last couple years. In New Jersey, we have a great brewery called Ramstein which has been around since the mid-90s or so. They're doing great stuff up there.
|Dogfish Head Commemorative Music Beers|
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In New York City, there's a new brewery called 508 that's opening up on Greenwich Steet. It's fantastic what that guy is doing over there. We just had a new brewery open up on top of Eataly, a Mario Batali-inspired restaurant.
In restaurants, you're starting to see better beer lists. At one point, you would walk in and see an inspired wine list but could only get a Miller Lite. Now, you walk in and their beer list is almost as impressive as their wine list, which is great.
I think the Tri-state has really picked up its beer education and its beer focus in the last few years.
HM: Agreed -- it's great to finally seeing it blossoming over here. Many of our readers are avid festivalgoers. Could you give a couple recommendations on beers that are really well suited for being outside on a hot festival day?
JH:Yeah, it's not really a trend, but it's what's called Session Beers. So beers that are about four percent alcohol or less -- they're big in the UK. They're getting bigger and more active over here. They're really flavorful but with a lower alcohol content.
So this time of year, I feel like a good Kolsch, which is light and refreshing. I also really like porters in the summer. Like a low balanced 4 to 4.5 percent porter ice-cold can be really refreshing.
HM: Thanks for speaking with me today, John. I'm looking forwarding to trying all the beers at Rock Hops.
John Holl is one of the beer curators at the Rock Hops Craft Beer and Music Festival taking place August 11 at Mercer County Park, NJ. He is also an author and his latest book is Massachussetts Breweries.