From ballads to blues to bluegrass, every musical style has jumped on the bandwagon of brew at sometime or another, drawing and redrawing the connecting lines between beer and beats and making it so that hoisting a pint can scarcely be done without a tune to carry you through.
But Kyle Hollingsworth, of String Cheese Incident fame, has taken the relationship between beer and music down to its most basic level. You start with a B, followed by an E major and an E minor and then an R, which by necessity and the fact that the standard musical scale only goes up to G, becomes "rest."
Behold, music in the key of beer, an homage to Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life" and an amusing piece that combines two of Hollingsworth's passions: composing and brewing.
"It's kind of a Coldplay-type progression," Hollingsworth said. "And I did write silly lyrics about beer."
Its possible that fans attending the Kyle Hollingsworth Band show at Agave in Avon tonight could be treated to a rendition of this little ditty. After all, it comes aduring Colorado Craft Beer Week, and the show is part of the BrewSki Tour, marrying up live music with a specially brewed craft beer.
Hollingsworth is teaming up with Aspen Brewing Co. this year for the second rendition of the BrewSki Tour. Last year's brew, a partnership with Breckenridge Brewery, was a dunkel, and this year's one-off collaboration will be a variation of Aspen's Independence Pass IPA.
"This year, we're taking a traditional IPA from Aspen and dry hopping it," Hollingsworth said. "In this instance, we were limited in time; we wanted to do something with a beer they already had in house."
IPA is a style that's high on Hollingsworth's must-brew list, and the BrewSki beer will be the first time in about a year that he has made one with someone. A keg of the exclusive brew will be tapped at each of the stops on the tour and poured until it's gone.
"Every time I get together with a brewery, we discuss styles," he said. "I encourage them to try something they've been wanting to try because it makes me a better brewer. So we work together."
Intertwined art forms
For Hollingsworth, there's a deep connection between the art of brewing and the art of making music.
"This whole concept of Kyle being into beer is pretty deep," he said. "I've been doing it for about five years now. I've been connecting the dots between the creation of music and the creation of beer. I'm a homebrewer, and there's creativity, some amount of discipline (in that).
"For me, it's about taking the chance, especially in a live music setting, and that's how I approach my brewing. Once you get the basics under your fingers, you can add some fruit or something different, and it could be the best solo you've ever taken or the worst beer you've ever made, but you kind of live in that moment."
Exploring the relationship between these two seemingly distant cousins has led Hollingsworth down other roads, as well.
"I have been doing this little beer seminar that connects music and beer and been thinking about which instruments each of the ingredients could be," he said. "When you think about music, what are the key ingredients. In beer, grain, hops, yeast. Maybe water is like the drum kit, like if beer was a band; bass would be the grain and malt; guitar player can be the hops because it can go to an 11.
"And the lead singer is the yeast because it's unpredictable sometimes if he even shows up for the gig. Sometimes, the yeast doesn't even show up."
So, how does the keyboard fit in there? How does the accordion fit in? Perhaps those are the wild-card players, the fruit or the cocoa nips or other additions and elements that are added to the brew, he said. As in music, beer's variations are limitless.
Craft beer crusaders
"It's Colorado Craft Beer Week, so I'm going to pretend that we are bringing Colorado beer week to the mountains," Hollingsworth said. "We're the crusaders of bringing beer week to the mountains."
Joining this crusader's horde is another familiar face, String Cheese Incident band mate and bassist Keith Moseley.
"I'm excited about this tour because it's a new combination of musicians," Hollingsworth said. "Traditionally, it was the Motet. So it's going to be Keith singing and me singing. ... We played together in String Cheese before, but we've never done this before."
But Hollingsworth is all about taking a chance and watching it all unfold. Be it from a stage or a carboy, whatever comes out the other end is bound to be a creative coup.