I like my music how I like my beer… cool, fresh, and memorable. This got me thinking, music and beer share many commonalities like how they have both adapted over the years based off of new technologies and both harness inspiration from the progression of the times, while still paying tribute to their roots. G. Love and Special Sauce has experienced their own musical evolution, which has resulted in a catalog of original, fun and brilliant albums. To me, nothing compares to watching them perform live. The energy from the band feeds into the crowd resulting in an undeniably fun and exciting experience. I have seen the band countless times and though the set list changes, there has always been cold beer readily available on stage for the band. This is what inspired me to reach out to the band’s front man, beer enthusiast, and hot sauce aficionado, Garrett Dutton (a.k.a. G. Love or just G) about music, traveling, and the ultimate cold beverage, beer.
Admittedly I was a bit nervous about the interview so to take the edge off, I poured a nice cold gose (okay, it was two) and underwent a mid-day musical session, blasting some G. Love and Special Sauce on vinyl. The album of choice for my little party-of-one was their most recent album, Love Saves the Day. This little break set me back to normal “Nicki mode” and I was all set for my chat with G. We began the interview with a brief introduction and then dove right into the subject of beer.
The beer chat started with G tapping into his memory bank about his adolescent experience with home brewing. He began his foray into craft beer back in 1989 when he paired up with his best friend, Brendan and opportunistically took on a high school chemistry project to brew their own beer. Their basement brew was ever-so-creatively named B and G’s Bare Beer. He clearly had the coolest chemistry teacher ever because these juvenile brew masters were able to serve Dixie-cup-sized portions of their creation to their fellow classmates. He recalled that home brewing was really starting to take off at this time, and being in a large city like Philadelphia he had access to stores that sold home brewing equipment.
Brendan kept with the home brewing hobby more so than G and he eventually tapered out of the hobby altogether. He jokingly recalled trying his hand at cream soda one time, which apparently did not turn out so well. The experience with home brewing is what started his love for craft beer. I am grateful for his exit from the home brewing scene as it afforded him the opportunity to find music, and I know I am not alone in that sentiment.
One of G’s favorite things about music is the touring. He really enjoys getting to see different cities and witness cool people do interesting things. The many years on the road has afforded him the opportunity to enjoy all kinds of different beers from across the globe too. He is a fan of many beer styles including but certainly not limited to nut brown ales, goses, robust stouts, IPA’s and even enjoys the quintessential Guinness every now and then. I asked if there were any particular breweries or a favorite beer that he gravitates toward, but he is a big fan of variety more so than a particular brew. He is also a huge supporter of local craft beer to the point that his band actually has a rider for craft beer that is local to the area while on tour.
Though the band doesn’t necessarily get time to specifically visit breweries when they are touring, they have played gigs in breweries. He recalled playing gigs for Crosby Hops and at several breweries including Flying Fish, Sweetwater, Founders and even the Craft Brew Convention in Philadelphia. He said that he enjoys playing for breweries and beer events because it is fun to be backstage amongst the large brewing tanks and equipment.
Another commonality shared between music and beer is the art of collaboration. If you have listened to any of G. Love’s albums, you are well aware that he has collaborated with some notable musicians, including Jack Johnson, Citizen Cope, Ben Harper, and The Avett Brothers to rattle off a few. The same can be said for when he collaborated with New Belgium in Ft. Collins, Colorado to create Peach Porch Lounger, which is part of their well-known Lips of Faith series. G recalled fondly how awesome it was to work with New Belgium to develop the flavor profile for this beer. The goal was to make the beer reflective of the music, so they chose ingredients that they felt represented the blues such as molasses, biscuits, and peaches. To step up the game a little they used brettanomyces yeast to give the beer its distinct floral flavor when combined with their bluesy ingredients. He even got the say-so in regards to the alcohol content of the beer and ended up with an ABV of 9.4, which adds up to his favorite number, “Lucky 13”.
I had no idea how involved G. was with craft beer before our conversation, but was wildly impressed with his appreciation for the art of brewing and the support of local breweries. His journey in the beer world is not stopping any time soon. Though G could not go into any details about an upcoming collaboration, let’s just say we should all stay tuned for something amazing.