Aurelien Guichard / Flickr
If I had had a beer in my hand during Radiohead’s set at the Key Arena earlier this month, it would’ve spilled all over my jacket and the floor. Hell, the beer would have even drenched the off-key-singing young woman in front of me (and unintentionally, too). Because I was bouncing up and down like a human kangaroo chain-chugging 5-hour ENERGY® shots. Who could blame me? I was one of thousands of excited, sweaty fans listening to the band play one of the better shows of their career.
The concert was amazing, but the one benefit to listening to Radiohead at home, of course, is that there’s a hell of a less chance you’ll end up taking a beer shower. And nothing goes better with British art rock than a tasty pint or two. So, for your listening and drinking pleasure, I’ve paired six of my favorite tunes from their set with six of the stellar Seattle beers I had the opportunity to try leading up to the show. Just hit play on the Spotify playlist below, round up the recommended bottles, and let Thom Yorke’s dulcet tones and these delicious brews change your day for the better.
Yorke singing “I have no idea what I’m talking about / I’m trapped in this body and can’t get out” reminds me of Cloudburst’s Remaining Mind, a pale ale with green tea and mango. That poor sucker he’s referring to in "Bodysnatchers" seems to not have any mind remaining. He’s clearly lost it. But if you have even half a brain, you’ll love this beer: an easy-drinking 5.1% ABV brew with subtle green tea notes (and even subtler mango flavors) concocted by former Elysian brewmaster Steve Luke.
Ask anyone in the beer industry to identify the question they get asked the most frequently, and “What’s your favorite beer?” nearly always tops that list. Musicians have a version of the same query: “What’s your desert island album?” For me, Space Dust is a desert island beer. (Although, admittedly, water is probably my Number One desert island beverage.) I’d never had Space Dust before I walked into the Elysian Bar in downtown Seattle, and now I need it in my fridge at all times. It’s as solid an American IPA I’ve ever had, with a beautiful hop bite thanks to the Chinook, Citra, and Amarillo within.
I was walking with my girlfriend and her Seattle-based friend in some very un-Seattle like weather (i.e. the sun was shining). Fremont Brewing’s patio was bustling, its picnic tables packed with happy people drinking from the Fremont neighborhood’s venerable brewery. But we had other plans that day, and sadly, a smooth, crushable Session Pale Ale would remain just out of reach. “Exit Music,” as you might know, was played over the end credits of Romeo + Juliet, another love story about a romance that wasn’t meant to be. That Session Pale Ale wasn’t in our cards that day, but it can certainly be in yours.
If you’ve ever been on the internet before (and I assume you have), you might have seen people using the goat emoji -- shorthand for “Greatest Of All Time.” Watching Radiohead rip through “Paranoid Android” during one of its encores reminded me that the band is a goat personified. This song has everything you’d want out of seeing Radiohead live: haunting melodies, explosive energy, and a concluding singalong for the entire stadium to join in on (“This is what you get when you mess with us”!). Meanwhile, Holy Mountain Brewing has a beer called The Goat, a beautiful Brett saison that’s been aged and re-fermented for a total of seven months. Every drop that touches your lips took a crazy amount of time to become so wonderful, making it just as worthy of appreciation as my favorite British rock band (okay, almost as worthy).
Granted, “Blimey That’s Bitter” could describe 99% of Radiohead’s songbook. But it’s a special band that can convince you to dance your ass off to a song about global warming and a potential new Ice Age that will destroy all of humanity! And what goes better with the end of civilization than a 10.5% ABV triple IPA from Reuben’s Brews that delivers on its promise of supreme bitterness? “Who’s in the bunker? / Who’s in the bunker?” All of us, probably. With a bottle of Blimey That’s Bitter, if we know what's good for us!
Oh, what a bewitching combination of beer and song this is! It rained on and off for most of the weekend I was in Seattle, and this chocolate and coffee-filled, crowd-pleasing stout is perfect for a cold, wet day. Now, I admit that Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” probably isn’t referring to a sea witch in particular. It’s not about beer, either. But the witchy coincidence was too good to pass up, and the tune is one of my favorites off of their new album, A Moon Shaped Pool, but it was even better live: so much more powerful and engaging. Just like when I finally took my eyes off of Seapine’s beautiful beer in the glass and put the liquid to my lips: transcendent.
In fact, to some extent, I feel this same way about all of the beer I had in Seattle. I knew some great stuff was being brewed there, and have certainly had my fair share of beer from the city -- but there was something about going to breweries like Elysian and Cloudburst and tasting their products fresh from the tap that allowed me to truly “get it.” If you haven’t been to Seattle on a beercation, this is the sign you need to book one.
Of course, I also recommend going on a weekend when you can see one of your favorite bands in concert, too.