The Session #9: Beer and Music

The SessionThis month’s Session is hosted by Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey fame, and his topic selected was "Beer and Music – The Message in a Bottle."

For this session, I am looking towards my fellow bloggers to share a music and beer moment with.  It could be that Pearl Jam show I attended 7 years ago where I was forced to drink 5 Coronas to stay warm.  But more likely, it could be an album or song that you’re always listening to.  I, for my part, will be writing two blogs.  One will be about a particular memory and the other will be about musical stylings and my beers.

(I have to admit, this month’s Session snuck up on me. I mostly forgot about it as this time of year is always a busy one for us, with myriad other things going on—I only remembered at the last minute.)

This is a tough topic for me because music is not something that I spend a lot of time on; most of the music I listen to is whatever happens to be on the radio while I’m driving and while I own a few handfuls of albums (and MP3s) I don’t listen to them all that often. If there’s music in the background of a place I go to (brewery, restaurant, etc.), I usually pay no attention (unless it’s live). So, sad to say, music and beer is not something I can really speak to.

Now having said that, there have been a few exceptions. A number of years ago my brother was living in Portland in an apartment building at 7th and Yamhill, and behind him, on the other side of the block, was the Speakeasy Tavern. (He could enter the alley behind the building and cut through to the Speakeasy; it was very handy.)

The Speakeasy (still there; it’s located at 609½ SE Taylor Street) is a classic hole-in-the-wall dive bar at the bottom of an apartment complex, half underground. It’s small, dark, smoky, and being Portland, they have good beer on tap. And, they have (or at least, had; I haven’t been there in years) a jukebox.

One weekend in Portland, my brother, my dad and I popped into the Speakeasy—first time I’d been there, I think. We had Black Butte Porter and loaded up the jukebox with a variety of music: Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp, AC/DC, Vanilla Ice—just stuff that for us is fun to listen to. It was a good night, drinking dark beer in a smoky bar with the music we wanted to hear.

Biddy McGraw'sOther times when music and beer will make a noticeable impact on me is when it’s inextricably appropriate to the beer and the setting. Biddy McGraw’s, for example; the Irish-est Irish pub I know of in Portland. Way back when they were located on Hawthorne Avenue (they’re currently at 60th and Glisan), they were always packed to the gills and each time I’d been there (only a handful of times), they had an honest-to-god Irish band playing live Irish music. (This I know for a fact because one of the band members, Seamus, was my brother’s landlord at one time and was truly Irish—and yes, same brother as at the Speakeasy.)

Now that I think about it, could there be any more appropriate beer music than Irish music? Particularly when what you’re drinking is Guinness?

Well, perhaps, but it’s definitely worth exploring.

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