Dear readers,

I’ve come to the hard decision that it’s time to put Steve Cross Loves Music and Science to rest. Don’t worry, I still love music and science! I just don’t have time to blog about it anymore. The natural progression of life, relationships, commitments, etc… has forced me to re-organize priorities. That’s not a bad thing, it just means that blogging has to take a backseat to more important things. So, this is the end of this blog! I’ll keep the domain for the foreseeable future, and everything will remain archived as-is. Everything has a a life cycle, and this blog has reached the end.

This is not the end of me sharing this type of content on the internet, however! I do intend to share more science articles, links, tidbits, etc… on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, so follow me there. This will allow me to still share my interests and love of music & science with whomever is willing to listen. I’m also on Instagram, so follow me there for more visual content.

I also have other blog ideas that I’ve been milling around for a while, but I’m keeping that under wraps until I officially decide what I’m doing. If and when that comes to fruition, it will be made public via my Twitter and Facebook.

Whether you’ve just started following me or have been for many years, I hope you learned something, gained something, or otherwise benefited from this blog!

Peace out.

-Steve

fix the beer taxRaise your pint glasses, steins, and snifters in a toast to the success of TN’s Fix the Beer Tax campaign! On Monday the bill passed the state senate, and on Wednesday it passed the state house. Both were almost unanimous votes. The bill still has to be signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, but with such widespread support and virtually no opposition whatsoever, he will sign it. TN is now on its way to becoming much friendlier to the craft brewing industry, and no longer will breweries be penalized for making a better quality product. Thank you to all my friends and readers who supported this campaign! Read the full article from the horse’s mouth at the official Fix the Beer Tax website.

 

ENBFThis year’s East Nashville Beer Festival was a complete success! I headed over with Lauren and a few bandmates and friends on Saturday ready to be amazed, and amazed I was! This festival has become one of my favorite days of the year, and Saturday did not disappoint. Lauren has a full review of everything over at Old Red Boots, but here are my top picks, with more personal insight:

Top 5 beers at ENBF 2013:

1. Kentucky Ale: Bourbon Barrel Ale
This is consistently my favorite bourbon barrel aged beer. You get a nice woody, oaky bourbon flavor up front, then a subtle hop character comes through, finishing with a lingering bourbon sweetness. It’s a symphony of all the right flavors.

2. Starr Hill: Psychokilter
Easily one of the best Scotch ales I’ve had. This beer is all about the malt- as it should be- but isn’t overly sweet. Robust and somewhat earthy. Color me impressed!

3. Calfkiller: Classic Spider
Calfkiller has burst onto the TN brewing scene in the past few years with a vengeance. All of their beers are fermented with the same Belgian yeast blend, which gives it a distinctive fruity note that says “this is Calfkiller!” Classic Spider was a special blend of their Brown Recluse and a stout, aged in a bourbon (or maybe it was whiskey?) barrel. I’m not sure if this will become a regularly produced beer, but I wouldn’t mind if it did!

4. Rivertown: Roebling Porter
This is a vanilla & espresso infused imperial porter, and it might as well be liquid dessert. It’s chocolatey, sweet, warming and simply delicious. It’s one of their flagships, too! Sadly, Rivertown doesn’t distribute to TNUpdate: turns out Rivertown DOES distribute to TN- you can get them at Craft Brewed!

5. Yazoo: Hop Project #70 Dry-hopped with Stella hops
Yazoo is known for their creative Hop Project series, in which they use the same malt bill, but different varieties of hops at different boiling schedules for each batch. #70 is the latest batch and (from what I was told at the tap) for this cask they dry-hopped it with a unique Australian hop variety called Stella. As I understand it this was a special cask that Yazoo made for the ENBF, but Hop Project #70 used Stella hops during the boil as well, and is available in retail stores now. 

Honorable Mentions:

Deschutes: Black Butte Porter and Northwest Pale Ale
Deschutes is an Oregon brewery that sadly hasn’t made it to TN yet, so I was unfamiliar even with these two flagship beers. The Black Butte Porter has a slightly nutty character that you’d expect in a nut brown ale, but yet it’s a porter! The Northwest Pale Ale stuck out to me because they backed away from the assertive hop bitterness that most APA’s are known for, and went for a well-balanced pale ale with a nice hoppy aroma.

Left Hand: Smokejumper Imperial Porter
Reactions to this beer amongst my peers were mixed. For me it was a fine smokey, bacon-y porter. I’ve not met a smoked beer that I didn’t like and this was no exception. Some in my group thought it reminded them too much of a campfire, while others wanted more bacon flavor. 

Straight To Ale: Hellfire Quadrupel and Monkeynaut IPA dry-hopped with Citra
This Huntsville brewery produces some fine beers. Their Belgian-style quadrupel, called Hellfire, was warming, earthy, and robust. They also had a special cask of their Monkeynaut IPA that was dry-hopped with Citra hops. The tropical fuity aroma was simply blissful!

French Broad: 13 Rebels ESB
One of my favorite styles of beer is a classic English ESB, or Extra-Special Bitter. I was familiar with French Broad but hadn’t tried their ESB. 13 Rebels was an enjoyable and worthy example of the style. Well-balanced and very session-able, as an ESB should be. 

Least Favorite Beer:

New Belgium’s surprise quadrupel.
I unfortunately didn’t take note of exactly what this beer was aged in or what was supposed to be special about it. It was a quad that had (I think) been aged in some sort of wood barrels. What I do remember though, is that is was too blatantly alcoholic up front. There are 10, 11, even 12% ABV beers that still manage to not allow the boozy alcoholic flavor to overrun the character of the beer. This one though, just screamed “BOOZE” at my palate. That being said, New Belgium is one of the finest, and also largest craft breweries in the nation. Everything about them pretty much rules. 

Happy drinking and I’ll see you next year at ENBF IV!

It’s Craft Beer Week!

March 20, 2013

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This week is Nashville Craft Beer week! I was too busy to post about this earlier in the week, but better late than never. As you should well know, it culminates in the long sold-out East Nashville Beer Festival this Saturday, but there are also lots of good tastings, tap takeovers, and beer dinners happening all week long. The full calendar of Craft Beer Week events is over at Rhizome Productions, so check it out and find what sounds interesting. I was at Craft Brewed last night for the Straight To Ale tasting and Brooklyn Surprise cask ale tasting. There are several tastings tonight, tomorrow, and thursday so go taste some good beer. And if you don’t have a ticket to the ENBF, check out Craigslist. I believe there are some for sale there. Good luck, and happy Craft Beer Week!

fix the beer taxI want take a moment to spread the word to fellow Nashvillians/beer lovers about an upcoming rally at the state capitol. As you should’ve heard by now, there is a BIG movement, called Fix The Beer Tax, in our fair state to change our absurdly high beer tax code that has been in place since the 1950’s. Brewers, beer lovers, and politicians alike have all been on the road over the past month or so building support for the Tennessee Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013.

This coming Monday, March 11th there will be a rally held downtown at The Standard (167 Rosa L. Parks Blvd), just a few blocks from the capitol, from 5-8:30pm. Sen. Brian Kelsey, Rep. Cameron Sexton, and representatives from the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, Anheuser-Busch, other national brewers, and importers will all be present. Join the event on facebook, and if you haven’t already, GO SEND A LETTER TO YOUR STATE LAWMAKERS IN SUPPORT OF THIS BILL! The form is very easy and it only take a few seconds!

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It’s almost spring again, and in East Nashville in recent years, that has come to mean BEER FEST. I’ve been to the East Nashville Beer Festival every year of its existence and it’s gotten better every time. Most of you probably know I’m a homebrewer and avid beer lover, so trust me when I say these folks really know how to put on a great beer festival. The list of breweries this year includes Deschutes, Good People, French Broad, Lagunitas, Highland Brewing, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Rivertown, Schmaltz, Brooklyn, Southern Tier, Starr Hill, Terrapin, Straight To Ale, Green Flash, and many more including all your favorite locals such as Yazoo, Calfkiller, Fat Bottom, Turtle Anarchy, Jackalope, etc… It’s well worth the $50 price because there’s simply no other way to experience so many great beers at once, and many of the breweries have very special, limited-edition (often cask-aged) brews that you’d never find in a store or at a bar. There will also be plenty of food trucks onsite to help fill your belly with yummy snacks in addition to the beer. The list includes Biscuit Love, Wrapper’s Delight, Riff’s, Hoss’s Loaded Burgers, and the Grilled Cheeserie to name a few.

This year also boasts a very special food/beer pairing tent sponsored by Whole Foods! It does require a separate ticket for an extra $45 but I’ve no doubt it will be worth it! The ENBF is also a part of Nashville Craft Beer Week, which boasts even more awesome in-store free tastings and other specialty events, so be sure to check out the full calendar, because the madness starts on March 18th.

The festival did not increase the size of the event this year, but they’ve “…doubled our bathrooms, doubled our hand wash sinks, increased drinking water supply, upgraded glassware (6oz glass snifter), and overall will be creating the best venue possible.” If you had issues with any of those things last year, fear not- it’ll be way better this year.

SO, BELIEVE ME- HAVE YOUR FINGER ON THE BUTTON AT 9AM SHARP THIS THURSDAY. This event will sellout in less than an hour, and probably even less than 30 minutes. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells out in 10 minutes. Trust me, I had an absolute blast last year with my lady Old Red Boots, and we’ll be back in full force this year. You do NOT want to miss this!

The ENBF and Craft Beer Week are all products of Rhizome Productions. Keep your eyes on these folks, because they’re doing some amazing stuff for the beer scene in Nashville, Tennessee, and the southeast in general!

*Also, don’t forget about Fix The Beer Tax! If you’re a Tennesseean and haven’t heard about that movement yet, check out my blog post about it from a couple of weeks ago (which the FTBT folks were kind enough to repost on their blog!). And then email your state legislators and help us get this archaic and ridiculous TN law changed.*

fix the beer taxIt’s long overdue, but finally a serious campaign has been created to curb Tennessee’s utterly insane beer taxes. I’m not tax expert, but I do understand that if we have the highest beer taxes in the nation, we are going to be way WAY behind the rest of the nation in the craft brewing industry. The fact that Nashville is just now starting to get a decent crop of local breweries is simply depressing. It’s depressing for beer lovers, entrepreneurs who want start a brewery, and the beer industry in general. For example, I have no doubt that our tax rates are a big reason, if not THE reason, that Bell’s Beer distributes all over the southeast but skips TN. Bell’s is one of the finest craft breweries in the nation and it’s a travesty that you can’t get it here.

But enough rambling about it. Now it’s time to do something about it. Yazoo Brewing held a kickoff event at the Yazoo Taproom last night that began a statewide campaign of events in Memphis, Clarksville, Chattanooga, the Tri-Cities, Cookeville, Knoxville, and of course Nashville to raise awareness of the problem and build support for The Tennessee Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013. The hub of the movement is their website- www.fixthebeertax.com. There you can find all pertinent information, and most importantly, a web form through with you can contact your local legislator urging them to support this bill. If you love good beer and you live in Tennessee, it behooves you to support this effort and do everything you can to help get it passed. They’re also on Facebook.

As I’ve followed Yazoo Brewing the past few years I’ve noticed Linus Hall mention TN’s crazy beer taxes on their blog several times and wondered if he was going to try to lobby our state legislature to fix the problem. I’m happy to say it’s finally happening!

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I’ve been slowly digging through the piles of posts in my RSS feed that accrued over the holiday break. While I’ve simply had to skip over the vast majority of it, I’ve found a few tidbits here and there about exciting and interesting things we can look forward to in Nashville’s awesome indie/local music scene in 2013. Check it:

  • Ben Todd and his Nashville’s Dead crew have announced the dates for the FREAKIN’ WEEKEND IV. So mark your calendars for March 7-9. The past three have gotten progressively more awesome as they’ve incorporated more of their favorite out-of-towners in the lineup. More at Nashville’s Dead.
  • Mercy Lounge will be celebrating their 10th year of putting on great shows this coming weekend. They have two nights, Friday and Saturday, of great local bands playing in all 3 of their venues- Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom, and The High Watt. Some of the bands include JEFF the Brotherhood, The Weeks, Cherub, Wild Cub, and many more. Each night the first 250 people get in free, after that cover becomes $10. Check out their calendar for more info.
  • Infinity Cat Records plans to open a small storefront sometime this coming summer. Not many details are known yet, but Steve Haruch at the Scene caught wind of it buried in a blog post on their website and wrote about it on the Cream. Kudos Jake, Jamin, and Bob!
  • Not only does Nashville now have Craft Brewed, a combination taproom, beer store, and homebrew supply store, we also have yet another brewery opening downtown- Tennessee Brew Works. For more them, check out the Scene’s Bites Blog, or their official website. And for more on Craft Brewed, check out their facebook. I’ve been there twice already, and their official grand opening party is this coming Saturday the 12th. I highly recommend it for beer lovers!
  • This is waaaaay off in the future, but Yazoo, Nashville’s first commercial craft brewery, will be celebrating their 10-year anniversary on October 13th, 2013. Congrats guys!

Promised Land. Photo by Alysse Gafkjen

A random assortment of good local music and beer news for you Thursday afternoon!

  • Promised Land is a new local “supergroup” comprised of Joey Scala (Denny & The Jets, Turkeys, PUJOL), Sean “To the Wall” Thompson (Nikki Lane, PUJOL), Richard Alessio, Luke Schneider (Cortney Tidwell, Lylas), and Evan Scala. The best way I can describe them is if The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, and The Carter Family all had a big threesome together. I caught them live a couple months ago on the back porch of Nikki Lane’s house, and thoroughly enjoyed their boozy, twangy set. With all the members heavily involved in other projects, I didn’t know just how serious Promised Land would be, or how soon they’d be releasing material. Thankfully this seems to be more than just an whim side project. They just released their debut EP Stoned Eagle on bandcamp, so go over and check it out! Also, as The Scene reported, the ‘Land opened for Seasick Steve at Third Man Records a while back. The show was recorded and will be released as a 45 early next year.
  • New venue alert: A new intimate singer/songwriter coffeeshop/cafe has opened on music row. Benton’s Cafe is owned by veteran songwriter Benton Stokes and will give up-and-coming songwriters a chance to perform in an intimate setting right in the heart of Nashville’s music industry hub. Check out their facebook and twitter for more info.
  • I was delighted to see the news that Yazoo and Calfkiller, two of my favorite TN craft breweries, have joined forces for a special collaborative beer! The brew is called The Beacon is an official “Tennessee High-Tax Ale.” This style was conjured up by the owners of Yazoo and Calfkiller to help bring attention to the fact that Tennessee has the highest beer tax in whole nation, which is structured to favor high-volume commercial beer brands over smaller craft breweries. This is one reason TN has a depressing lack of craft breweries. But with the formation of the TN Craft Brewer’s Guild, hopefully that will all change sooner rather than later. Check out the Yazoo blog for full details on the beer itself and how to get your hands on it!

As you should know, this Satuday is National Record Store Day. Record stores (you know, the places you can actually walk into and touch a real album and buy it… imagine that) across the nation will be having huge special sales, and labels and artists across the nation have pressed limited edition vinyl releases, usually 45s, that will only be available at a record store, on Record Store Day. There are tons of awesome happenings here in Nashville, the biggest being Grimey’s “big ass outdoor sale.” They have a killer lineup of live music slated for the parking lot, and they always have tons of used records and CDs on sale for super cheap. Check out grimeys.com for the full lineup and schedule. East Nashville’s The Groove also has a killer lineup of bands playing on their backyard stage, and you can get most if not all of the official RSD exclusive releases there as well. Check their website for the full lineup and schedule. Those are the only two doing performances that I know of, but The Great Escape might be doing some sort of sale. There’s no mention of it on their website, however. Third Man Records will of course have lots going on in the way of sales and limited releases, etc… however they do not have live performances this year. (How can they possibly top Jerry Lee Lewis last year?)

Secondly, the flyer above is for a show that includes my band, thus a bit of shameless self promotion:

Come see Scale Model, Anchor Thieves, Century Club, and The Goldroom at The End Saturday night after all your RSD shopping/festivities! Anchor Thieves are releasing a free CD single, and Nashville’s own Griffin Technology will be giving away free RSD themed iPhone 4 cases. Find out more about Scale Model, the Goldroom, and Century Club (ex-Carter Administration) at their respective bandcamp pages. RSVP on Facebook here. Cover is only $5, show starts at 9:30pm, and the beer is cheap. Come party with us!