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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Collaboration Suggests Growing Influence of Craft Beer

I wasn't at home when the knock on the door came. It was gym night. The gent at the door presented my wife with a bottle of Norman ale and a CD by the band, NormanInto the Eventyr. I'll provide some thoughts on the beer and the music shortly. The more important message here is the growing power of craft beer.

Think back a few years to a different time. From the Sixties through most of the Nineties, there were music stores everywhere. Most music was sold in stores in those days and record stores were destinations for people interested in the newest sounds around. I spent way too much time in music stores, by the way...even worked in one for many years.

If you fast forward to present day, the role of music in pop culture has declined. The move to online music sales and piracy killed record stores. But, honestly, there are so many other entertainment choices out there today. The golden age of recorded music passed long ago.

In the case of craft beer, we may well be experiencing its golden age. The number of places featuring great beer is off the hook. In much the same way that folks were once driven to keep up with the newest in music, they are now driven to seek the latest greatest flavors in craft beer.

Looking at the Norman project, it is nominally a collaboration between Calapooia Brewing and the band. If something like this could have happened 30 years ago, the music almost certainly would have played a leading role. Today, the roles have flipped. It is the beer leading the way, propping up interest in the music.

The idea to market a CD alongside a beer coincides with the increased marketing power of craft beer. Businesses around here are using craft beer as a partner in marketing all kinds of things...bikes, food, trips, music and more. Who knows where this leads. The possibilities are endless.

With respect to the Norman beer and CD, I think the beer is somewhat bolder than the music. Calapooia has done a nice job brewing a Northwest style pale ale that has a deep, gravely character. The beer is worth a try if you happen to see it. Does it mesh with the music? I'm not so sure.

Compared to the beer, Into the Eventyr seems more refined. In my mind, it's reminiscent of the Eagles, Allman Brothers, Byrds and maybe Gram Parsons and Neil Young. Your opinion of this album will likely depend on your view of folk rock. It is well-produced and executed...polished, you might say. Beyond that, you'll have to be the judge.

I suspect we will see more collaborations like this one. And why not? It's a great idea.

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