Friday, 29 April 2016 00:00

Pondering Pairings of Music and Craft Beer at Coachella; La Quinta Brewing Nabs a Big Medal

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Just when you thought the beer offerings at the annual music festival couldn’t get any more awesome, this year proved to be the most refreshing and abundant yet.

 Not only was did the craft beer barn make a star studded appearance for the third year in a row, but there was a smaller rare beer a barn, craft beer cocktails and a cabin speakeasy by the Houston Brothers.

Weekend two pumped with raw emotion, brilliant sounds and craft deliciousness to heighten several senses.

All Coachella Valley local breweries and brewpub made an appearance. La Quinta Brewing brought their Sundaze Session IPA and Poolside Blonde. But what wouldn’t be known until May 6th is the big win that La Quinta would nab in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category at the World Beer Cup for their Bourbon Barrel Aged Koffi Porter. There were 66 entries in category number 25.

The brewery takes their popular coffee porter and ages it in bourbon barrels for approximately four months. The coffee used is a local company, Koffi from Rancho Mirage, where they roast it themselves.

I chatted with Skip Madsen, who is now the brewmaster of La Quinta Brewing. Skip lived in Seattle for over 20 years and brewed at Pike Brewing, Boundry Bay Brewing, Big Time Brewing, American Brewing Company and his own company, Water Street Brewing. Skip started brewing here in the desert in in January. Since then, he’s introduced a new IPA (Even Par IPA) which comes in at 7.2 percent ABV, pun intended, as 72 marks an even par golf score. This is brewed with Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops.

“I like to do all kinds of styles, but I’m known as an IPA guy.”  

This is his third World Beer Cup medal and La Quinta’s first.  The brewery has been talking about brewing a couple new beers and possibly bottling the award winner Bourbon Barrel Aged Koffi Porter, which will likely be available around the holidays.  

Now back to the festival.

Prince:  Prince was there in spirit. As an icon of artistry and individuality, it’s virtually impossible to pair just one beer to the legendary musician and performer who tragically died the day before the festival’s second weekend. Coachella’s palm trees were awash with Prince's trademark purple hue. Ice Cube even wore a purple bandana and purple sneakers in tribute.

Before LCD Soundsystem took the stage, the three massive main-stage screens played the entirety of Prince's version of Radiohead's Creep, recorded in 2008, on that very stage.

Prince's music crossed genres as a master architect of funk, rock, R&B and pop. He went against the grain and refused to bow to big record labels in his nearly 40-year history of artistry and delivering his music to his fans.

In this context, I have to mention Stone Brewing. The 20 year old San Diego brewery has consistently gone against the grain. Arrogant Bastard Ale unleashed upon the world in November of 1997.

Fast forward to 2014, Stone announced plans to be the first American craft brewer to own & operate a brewery in Europe. And much like Prince not wanting to give control to big business, Stone founders developed a project called True Craft as an “alternative to being bought or pushed out by Big Beer.” True Craft is a company established to invest in craft breweries which are dedicated to remaining true to the definition of craft beer.

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LCD Soundsystem: The bold dance-punk icons led the set with a joyous, funky version of Controversy, that actually lifted spirits and feet off the ground. The anti-cool – yet infinitely cool - electro-rock group played Daft Punk is Playing at My House and Dnce Yourself Clean, creating a distinct and grin-inducing dance party. James Murphy’s Brooklyn demeanor, electro-rock dancing and serious singing proved he had very little to prove during what ended up as a triumphant return. Murphy proved his comedic talent over a simple drum beat, when he cavalierly proclaimed that he was at every key moment in western underground music.


I found myself memorized swaying aggressively, when suddenly a young, dreaded hippie slipped beside me. His eyes were wide, overwhelmed by the sensation of the beautiful music: “I didn’t know about these guys, they’re amazing!” I giggled, “Yes, yes they are.”

Pair with: The Bruery’s Confession. Not quite beer, not quite wine, the unique and effervescent wild ale is perfect for the wild and collaborative band.  Confession is a variation of our sour blonde ale, brewed in part by Fess Parker Winery, and was blended and fermented with juice pressed from Parker's Riesling grapes. The first sip is reminiscent of a dry white wine, and then everything changes.

While LCD Soundsystem may be best remembered for the effect they had (and have) on the dancefloor, Confession is best known for the effect it has after the flavors reveal themselves on the tongue.

Disclosure: Electronic music duo is definitely one of the cleanest stage acts you’ll see live. Disclosure welcomed AlunaGeorge singer Aluna Francis on the visually brilliant stage. Moving Mountains and When A Fire Starts To Burn brought crazy awesome roars from the audience. Simply put, Disclosure was the ultimate crowd pleaser.

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Pair with: El Segundo Citra Pale. Nearly every craft beer drinker I know loves this beer. What’s not to love?  With notes of guava, grapefruit peel, mango and peach, it’s refreshing, bright and taste bud pleasing.
NWA: The Coachella line up listed Ice Cube. But even Ice needs friends. "Is there a doctor in the house?" he asked.  The surviving members of N.W.A performed together for the first time in nearly 30 years. Before Dre arrived on stage wearing all black and adorning the Prince symbol on his shirt, Cube had the N.W.A vibes in full force with Fuck tha Police and Straight Outta Compton.


It was loud, aggressive and totally awesome. Beacause, NWA beaaaach.

Pair with Three Weavers’ Hops Needs Friends. With a bold emphasis on hop bitterness, the Inglewood brewery (not far from Compton) loaded this IPA with Idaho 7 and Azacca hops, giving it bursts of pineapple, orange, and strawberry flavors - loads of California Love.

Guns N’ Roses:  Coming from someone who would blast GnR in her walkman in the mid-90s, before getting ready to swim the 100 freestyle at my high school’s swim meets, I was beyond excited to see the larger than life band.


Senses were exhilarated and 35-55 year olds rocked like it was 1987. Duff played his powerful bass licks from a white bass adorned with a purple decal of Prince’s symbol. He sang The Damned's New Rose– which was extra cool since the psychedelic punk legends had just played there at the festival, before GnR.  

But it was Slash’s astounding guitar solos and Axl’s wailing falsetto that drew the crowds. Despite being confined to a throne, they delivered a mind blowing set. And of course, Axl dedicated it to Prince. They didn’t need a special guest, because they made sure the night ended with a bang.

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Pair with Faction Brewing’s Something Different IPA. This IPA is hopped with Centennial, Citra and Experimental 07270. With aromas of pine resin and grapefruit and notes of grapefruit, dank spice, tropical fruit and pine resin, it’s one to seek out and highly rated.

Or, try pairing with Modern Times Infinity Beach, a Sour Brett IPA w/ grapefruit zest, coming in at 7.2% Alc. by Vol. This is a special release beer that’s kettle-soured with three lacto strains before fermenting with their house Brett blend, resulting in loads of flavors and in your face, citrusy awesomeness.


Close up GNR photo by Erik Voake courtesy of Goldenvoice

NWA photo by Erik Voake courtesy of Goldenvoice

LCD Soundsystem performing rendition of Prince's "Controversy." Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment

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