The wonderful symbiotic relationship between local craft breweries and local music continues this Saturday at High and Dry Brewing. For a second time, the brewery has teamed up with the heavy desert rock band Red Mesa to create a special IPA, and this time it will be released with a full, live music performance.
Last time around, with COVID restrictions still in place, the band could only record a performance at the brewery, and then play the video for fans once things opened up again. They were still able to release a collaboration called Disharmonious Red IPA, named for the song “Disharmonious Unlife” off the then-new album The Path to the Deathless. That song featured guest vocals and guitars by doom/stoner metal legend Wino, of The Obsessed and Saint Vitus, it should be noted.
High and Dry co-owner/head brewer Andrew Kalemba said that this time around, they had to make sure to incorporate a live performance with the beer release.
“When we were sitting down, talking about our anniversary party back at the end of last year, (or) early 2022, when we were working on getting them to (perform at) the anniversary party, they told me, ‘We had a new single coming out. Let’s do that proper show that we never got to do when they did the last album release before COVID,’” Kalemba said. “Hey, perfect opportunity, let’s make another beer (too).”
The new beer is called Forest Cathedral IPA, and goes with the new single, “Forest Cathedral,” that is available for download on Bandcamp.
“Alex Cantwell is our bass player, (and) he’s the newest member of the band, he wrote the song,” said lead singer/guitarist Brad Frye. “It’s sort of like an ode to nature and doom metal. He’s also a guitarist, and I play guitar — I started Red Mesa in 2013 — (but) Alex brings a lot more heavy riff ideas than I do. He’s been playing music for a long time, really influenced by a wide array of stuff. Roman Barham, our drummer, is the same. They’ve been playing for so many years in so many bands in Albuquerque. On my end, I’m more on the melodic and psychedelic side.”
The song features touches from all three band members, starting out with a grinding style, before drifting towards something more melodic and yet still filled with doom, before returning to the initial grind.
All the song needed was a beer to match those overlapping styles.
“We talked about the lyrics, what the song is, what it means to them, where it all came from,” Kalemba said. “There’s my ever-growing list of beers that we want to make. We kind of also hit that list. We decided we were going to do an IPA again. That’s the obvious beer to make that’s going to move.”
After listening to the song for a bit, Kalemba and the band members realized what they had to do to make Forest Cathedral IPA unique.
“The beer itself, it’s a pretty basic IPA base, but this is where the Forest Cathedral parts come in,” Kalemba said. “We went with a heavy amount of rye in the malt bill. We finished the boil with some juniper berries. It’s got this kind of fun, dry, spicy, slightly herbal minty kind of thing going on, in a cool, kind of refreshing way. That hits with all the standard citrusy and piney notes we have from the hops. We’ve got Idaho 7, Cascade, and Summit is what we went with on that.”
Frye said it was a singular experience when he and the rest of the band got to sample the beer.
“We tried it last week, it’s a rye IPA with juniper berries,” he said. “That sounds kinda wild, but it’s really tasty and very subtle, the juniper is very subtle.”
To celebrate the release, Red Mesa put together a big event that will take over the brewery starting at 5 p.m. Admission is $10, with music starting at 7. There will be two food vendors as well. High and Dry will have special logo glasses for sale, plus special crowler labels, Kalemba said.
“At 7 o’clock, Rock Jong Il, a local post-punk hardcore band will kick things off,” Frye said. “Then at 8, we’re playing inside the brewery. That should be a ton of fun. Outside we’re going to have a big merch tent. We have a 7-inch vinyl for the single. We have T-shirts and tank tops, stickers and patches. The food is going to be Doobie’s Smokehouse, which is really excellent barbecue. Then we’ve got Chef David from Bike in Coffee. He’s going to do beer-battered fish tacos and beer-battered al pastor tacos, which he made with the Forest Cathedral IPA. They’re just incredible.”
Once again, a local brewery and local musicians are combining forces in the best way possible. It was a trend that the pandemic put a stop to for over a year, but has come back in full force.
“We’re just feeling pretty grateful and humble to be able to have this experience,” Frye said. “Being a band that has a couple small-batch beers with a brewery, it adds a lot of fun and excitement. A lot of breweries are really into doing music collaborations and have artists perform. We’re so happy to have the relationship with Andrew and High and Dry. It’s really given us an opportunity.”
A big thanks to Andrew and Brad for getting back to me over the phone while I await the last of the COVID to leave my system (yes, I will miss this event, and I regret that tremendously, you dumb virus). If you are fully healthy, get on over to High and Dry for some excellent tunes, delicious food, and tasty brews. Just bring your earplugs. This is gonna be a little heavier than most brewery music events!