Sunday, June 13, 2010

A beer that takes you Miles away

“Bitches Brew.” Adults of a Certain Age will remember well the expansive, surreal, visionary album by Miles Davis, a record that launched a thousand thousand bong hits in black-lighted college dorm rooms everywhere.

The record — hailed by critics and fans alike as a seminal work whose sonic stylings helped usher in the fusion sound that typifies the early 70’s — will mark its 40th anniversary in August. What better way to celebrate than raising a glass of ... Bitches Brew?

Thanks to the brain trust at Dogfish Head, a Delaware craft brewery, beer aficionados can prepare to welcome Bitches Brew, a malt concoction inspired by the Miles Davis sound. It's set for limited release in August.

It’s described on the Dogfish Web site as "a bold, dark beer that's a fusion of three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root, a gustatory analog to Miles' masterpiece." Dogfish rates the beer’s ABV (alcohol by volume) at 9.0, stronger than most commercial beers and on a par with the potency of mead.

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, writing on the Dogfish site to announce the beer, described Miles’ album as a kind of liquid muse years ago, when he was developing plans for the brewery.

“I listened to it when I was writing my Dogfish business plan," Calagione writes. "I wanted Dogfish Head to be a maniacally inventive and creative brewery, analog beer for the digital age. You could say that my dream was to have Dogfish Head, in some small way, stand for the same thing in the beer world that Bitches Brew stands for in the jazz world. You can imagine how excited we are to be doing this project 17 years after I wrote that business plan."

The connections between the music and the malt will extend to the labeling; the 750ml “Bitches” bottles will feature images from the album’s celebrated cover art by Mati Klarwein, the late painter and graphic artist whose strikingly surreal style has been featured on other iconic album covers, including Santana’s “Abraxas” and Earth Wind & Fire’s “Last Days & Time.”

The album itself makes a fresh appearance in August; Sony Legacy will release two anniversary “Bitches Brew” editions: a Legacy Edition and a deluxe Collector's Edition, which includes the original album and an audiophile pressing of two vinyl discs, and a DVD of a live 1969 performance of the album’s music. Both will be available Aug. 31.

Order it here. Then get ready to trade that long-ago bong for a bottle with the bold, dark shock of the new.

Image credits: Bitches Brew bottle: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Label image: from the Bitches Brew album cover by Mati Klarwein, 1970.

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