Metal and beer come together with new collaboration between Red Mesa and High and Dry Brewing

From left, Red Mesa’s Alex Cantwell, Brad Frye, and Roman Barham show off the special crowler cans for their collaboration beer with High and Dry, Disharmonious Red IPA. (Photo courtesy of Red Mesa)

As all of us in the Dark Side Brew Crew can attest, a love of metal and a love of craft beer can be quite the harmonious intersection. Those were two of the main things that brought us together before we launched this site in 2012 (our name has never been a Star Wars reference, in case anyone was still wondering).

Now we are delighted to see a unique new collaboration between one of our finest local metal bands, Red Mesa, and the good folks at High and Dry Brewing. Disharmonious Red IPA is just one part of this team-up, with the next part arriving tonight in virtual form, as a recent live performance by the band that was recorded at the brewery will become available for all to enjoy.

To catch up on all the details of how this came together, I sat down with High and Dry owner/brewer Andrew Kalemba, and Red Mesa drummer Roman Barham and bassist Alex Cantwell.

“The Red Mesa story goes back to 2018, when the last album was out,” Kalemba said. “We were doing those bring-your-own vinyl days, and they brought us a copy of the previous record (The Devil and the Desert), so we always had that in-house. That was kind of our intro (to the band). Pretty much from there as we started doing live music here, they always kept showing up on the list (of bands).”

Red Mesa headlined the second anniversary party for High and Dry in February 2020, before the world came crashing down the following month. Prior to the pandemic, Kalemba and Cantwell were talking about doing a beer release tied into the release of The Path to the Deathless in May.

“It’s kind of been over a year in the works, honestly,” Cantwell said. “Andrew, the (owner) here has been super supportive of Red Mesa. We’ve played at least two acoustic shows and the heavier one outside. The whole staff have been really supportive of us. They’ve had our album on display over there.

“They had to shut down during the pandemic like every place else. When they reopened, I kind of pitched the idea to them, I was like what if we did a Red Mesa brew. If you have a seasonal plan coming up or anything. He said, absolutely dude, I’m on it.”

It’s a pretty damn metal beer.

Rather than just make a beer and release that, Kalemba drew on his past contact with Duke City Virtual and the band Stereogeist, which led a series of performances that were recorded at the brewery after hours and then broadcast online.

“Alex brought one of the new pressings of the album,” Kalemba said. “I was like, maybe we can do a listening party if we can’t do the show or the beer. Then we turned into to-go only. We basically hit pause on the whole thing. Back in November, you were here talking to us for Stereogeist, and he’d approached me to do some live recordings. I said absolutely, let’s use the space, let’s do something with it.”

Kalemba proposed recording a live performance and then tying its broadcast to the release of the beer, which will happen today (Thursday). Brandon and I got to sit in for the live performance, and we were blown away to experience music in person for the first time in ages.

“Honestly, among most musicians and bands/labels, we’ve got one of the better relationships with Brad and Red Mesa and Desert Records,” Kalemba said. “They’re just easy to work with and it’s just natural. Regardless of style or anything, we want to be doing music, we want to do fun projects that everyone is enthusiastic about. They are the easiest group of people to work with. They always deliver.”

The feeling is mutual.

“He’s one of the first breweries to collaborate with a band,” Barham said. “I know there’s breweries that have with events, but this is the first beer with a band (locally). He’s taking a step forward. Iron Maiden, all these bigger bands have (their own) beer, so it’s cool to see a smaller market brewery (do this). I think it’s the beginning of a good thing. It makes a certain hype to everything. We made an event about it. And then we end up playing here, tying in everything. It’s a cool vibe, beer and music.”

“It all makes sense that these two worlds collide, as I’m sure you can attest to,” Cantwell added. “Metal and beer, that makes a lot of sense, right? When you can get it on a legitimate level like this, that kind of takes it to the next level (beyond).”

That’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask us.

Disharmonious, which is a tasty, old-school red IPA, with a strong back-of-palate hop presence. It has been out for a week now, and if you have not enjoyed a pint or a crowler yet, today would be a good time to pick some up.

“The beer was just kind of the secondary element,” Kalemba said. “We sat in the back, and asked what kind of beer do you want to make. They said let’s do something red. I said in the obvious fashion of (modern) beer brewing, let’s make an IPA. Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be OK. So they said red IPA, and it probably wasn’t something that we had considered doing (previously). We decided to go for it. I think a black IPA was second (choice). I’d rather do something with constraints. We had the meeting, and we’ll have the beer out on this day, so let’s get this show recorded, let’s make it go.”

As for the details, Kalemba broke it down as to how things will work tonight.

“We’ve got the QR code on our (Facebook) page,” he said. “Scan that, PayPal $5 to watch the livestream, which will go through the Duke City Virtual Site. That’s what gets you access. That kicks off at 7:30. The other cool thing about it is you can buy that or subscribe to Duke City Virtual at any point in time for $5 and access the show. Obviously, we want this to be released at this time, get a can, get a glass, but you will have access to it in the future.

“We’ve got the can release available while the beer is here. We’ve also got the Red Mesa Disharmonious Pint glasses. Those retail for $6, but if you buy a crowler, it’s $3. While supplies last, of course. That’s what we’re doing, grab the beer, grab a pint glass, set it up in your living room, and have a great time, jam it out, be loud. It’s only a matter of time until we’re able to do this outside again. It’s really about embracing and respecting our current situation, and still trying to have some semblance of reality.”

Live metal. Delicious beer. Yeah, this should be a lot of fun.

“We’ll even have a merch table here!” Barham said with a laugh. “What’s funny is, us talking about having a merch table, is for years we were like, who’s at the merch table, I’m not. Now we’re all going to be at the merch table.”

See you all at High and Dry tonight.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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