While I mentioned that I had some idea about how this “Mashing with Merge” project was going to play out, I still don’t have it completely figured out, so from here on out you’re just gonna have wing it with me, especially since I’m not all that great at writing why I find music or beer interesting. I just like them….but that stance doesn’t really fit well for a blog.
As I mentioned previously, Post-War is a subtle album opening with “Poison Cup” – a repetitive guitar strum that doubles as both percussion and tunes and some background orchestral strings. The drums come in while M. Ward’s unique vocals plead. Moving into the upbeat “To Go Home“, the album moves back and forth through simple guitar tunes to upbeat numbers with significant percussion and additional arrangements. Despite this back and forth between songs, the album flows very well. My previous take was there wasn’t exactly a standout song, there are several that stick with you after the album has finished. “Requiem” starts with what might be some Southern Rock influences with an electric guitar, but that settles into a simple acoustic guitar….that doesn’t last long, either, as the percussion comes in, and the song grows and swells into a culmination and finishes with the reappearance of that electric guitar. On the other end, the simple and mellow “Eyes on the Prize” showcases M. Ward’s unique vocals with there rough-around-the-edges feeling, while “Rollercoaster” follows in a similar vein.
Overall, this album is a unique display of multiple styles (e.g. the surf rock-esque “Neptune’s Net“), yet this display is not disparate in any way. Post-War is a well-balanced album featuring a number of items that standout (e.g. the vocals, percussion, etc.), but none that overpower each other. I’d highly recommend this album and I’m definitely going to explore more work from M. Ward, particularly Transistor Radio.
I mentioned that I was thinking about a nice subtle American Amber Ale (AAA) that has a nice hop punch at the end. In AAAs, similar to Post-War, there is a decent balance between the hops, grain and yeast, but that’s not to say there is nothing standing out amongst the ingredients. It’s all in how the ingredients are put together and utilized in the brewing. I’m going to use the clean bittering properties of Simcoe hops, but I’m using the addition of Columbus hops as first wort hops to give the bittering of this beer a unique profile. Also, my late addition of Warrior hops will give a nice hop punch to the beer similar to the percussion on Post-War. As for the grain, I’m going with my typical AAA combination of American Pale ale malt and German malt – in this case, Vienna malt. This combination gives a nice malty profile without being cloyingly sweet in the final product. My specialty grain profile is divergent from AAA I’ve made in the past. Typically, I go with a caramel/crystal malt around 60–80L, but for this I’m going a little lower on the Lovibond scale with caramel/crystal 40L to profile the subtleness of Post-War. Additionally, the yeast, White Labs Pacific Ale, tends to leave more sugars in the final product, so the higher caramel/crystal malts may be a little too much for this beer making it too sweet. The yeast is also chosen as a shout out to M. Ward’s Portland home as the Pacific Ale yeast is “a popular yeast from the Pacific Northwest.” And the final touch to this beer is the use of American roasted barley. M. Ward has a unique vocal sound that comes off with a little sharp edge, so I’m hoping the roasted barley will add a little bit of that sharpness to this beer.
While I’m categorizing this beer as an AAA, I’m not one to follow style guidelines, though I do use them as guidelines, not steadfast rules. On the other hand, though, I have some personal rules that I use in putting together my recipes and they’ll come out over several posts. For AAA, my rule is there needs to be significant caramel/crystal malt and German Vienna or Munich malt. I like the complexity that the German malt gives to the beer and AAA should have a decent caramel taste in the finished product. Those are the rules I’m following for this beer, but it’s obvious I’m not using the style guidelines as concrete rules with my addition of American roasted barley. Also, I’m not using a typical AAA hop profile for this beer with the Simcoe bittering hops and Warrior finishing hops. While I’m close to American Pale Ale style with those hops, in my book, it’s still an American Amber Ale. Similar to Post-War, this beer will float between styles based on the ingredients (roasted barley from an Irish Ale or Stout, Warrior hops from a Pale Ale, Vienna malt from a German lager).
*When I have it figured out, my recipes will be posted under the recipe tab. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a way to put a link to a PDF file for the recipe.