Last week, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery announced that they’d be commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Miles Davis’s singular fusion album Bitches Brew with a beer of the same name. In addition to being “the ultimate partner for chili or spicy curry chicken,” Dogfish founder/president Sam Calagione suggests it pairs well with the actual album. Bitches Brew will be released in August to match the timing of Columbia’s re-releases of the classic album.
Really, no one came up with a “Bitches Brew” until now? Dogfish’s creation of a beer to celebrate the anniversary of a beloved cultural icon got me curious about how common the phenomenon really is. New Yorkers will know that Brooklyn Brewery’s Pennant Ale came out five years ago to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers’ only World Series title. And West Coasters remember that San Francisco’s Anchor Brewery came up with its well-known Liberty Ale to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride.
And sure enough, 2010 has already seen the release of a number of hilarious commemorative beers – and it’s my pleasure to share three of them with you:
1. In Astoria, Oregon, two local brewers joined forces to celebrate of the 25th anniversary of The Goonies. Filmed in Astoria, the movie is an iconic adventure flick that involves a pack of kids, a trio of hapless criminals, and a race through a series of booby traps to reach an ancient pirate ship filled with treasure (which the kids hope will save their parents’ home from foreclosure). The resulting commemorative brew is the Truffle Shuffle Stout, which indeed contains some black truffles but is actually named after a hilarious scene from the movie.
2. The Canadian Navy is celebrating their 100th birthday this year, and as part of the nation-wide tribute, the Vancouver Island Brewery released the Sea Dog Amber Ale. Although the private brewery created and distributes the beer, the name of the ale and the images on its packaging were chosen by a committee of Navy personnel. And while the Canadian Navy discontinued the traditional daily rations of rum in 1972, Navy Commander Tony deRosenroll assures us that “we have never lost our taste for the amber ale.”
3. And the award for Most Puzzling Commemoration goes to: The Olde Peninsula Brewpub in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which released its annual iteration of the Tornado Ale this May to “celebrate” the city’s devastating 1980 tornado. The twister ravaged downtown Kalamazoo, destroying many of the city’s landmarks– including a portion of the building which now houses the brewery. Doesn’t seem like the kind of occasion you’d want to toast, but compared to Kalamazoo’s second most interesting historical event (the establishment of the nation’s first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall)… bottoms up!
- Becky Sullivan