10 August 2008

We're Only In It For The Money

We're Only In It For The Money is one of those records you play for someone when they say "who is Frank Zappa?" or "I've never heard any of that guy's music" or "is his stuff any good?" The album cover instructs you to read Franz Kafka's In the Penal Colony before you listen. I didn't, I'll admit, but I had read it, so I figured that was OK. I did however, read the story again after I spent some time grooving to the record. It is quite an adventure--there is nothing like FZ's music, and the early Mothers of Invention records still hold up 40-odd years later.

Earlier this year I wrote about the Lagunitas Brewing Company and their beer and bottle label tribute to Mr. Zappa. This summer the 4th in their series, the aforementioned WOIINFTM, hit the shelves. Of course we picked it up for quaffing. And for the collection. My lovely bride had the original LPs when I met her (she turned me on to this music). We've got the re-released re-mastered CDs. Why wouldn't we have the bottles for the French Street Brewery collection?

Alas, excitement was tempered by the actual brew. I'm one of the only craft brewers and microbrew drinkers who has NOT been bitten by the Belgian bug. I made some pretty funky brews in my early days as a beer-crafter. Stuff would come out with an over-the-top bitterness, a harsh, acidic carbonation, a rotted, cellary cheese flavor, and a deep musty-yeasty smell. It was like old socks had been tossed in the fermenter. I finally figured out that some souring bacteria had violated my carboy, or the fermenting temperatures had encouraged some off-flavors, or some other technical flaw had occurred in the process. Nowadays, with Belgian ales being "the heighth of fashion," brewers WANT THOSE FLAVORS. I was dumping the shit out! It may have been an acceptable flavor to a Belgian, but not to me. Those beers did not taste the way I intended them to taste. I've got no beef with Belgians, or their unique, complex, and fascinating approach to beer-making. But when beer tastes like a locker room, I'm not interested in drinking it. When we were in Holland, we had a chance to taste some Belgian beers. Some were lovely, some were passable, some tasted like moldy cardboard or rotten yogurt. Lagunitas' WOIIFTM tastes just like those old failed brews of mine from when I was a pup brewer. Needless to say, we dumped it. Sorry, fellas. I love your IPA and your tributes to FZ. But I'm not tuned in to the Belgian vibe.

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