Ain't Nothin' To Funk With

November 2, 2015

Everyone went crazy for Walker, Dock Street’s beer made with roasted goat brains, released to coincide with the premiere of The Walking Dead. Now, social media is buzzing about their newest project, focused specifically on the fun side of the little microorganisms that produce the alcohol in beer… yeast.

At Dock Street Brewery in West Philadelphia, a golden saison ferments in a red wine barrel. These days with the rise in popularity of both barrel-aged and sour beers, that seems pretty typical. Only this barrel has a steady stream of music by the Wu-Tang Clan, blasting through a specially designed speaker system. For six months, the barrel will vibrate to the sounds of over 500 different songs from a carefully curated Spotify playlist. Vince DesRosiers, head brewer for Dock Street says, “There are a lot of music and beer crossovers that have been released. Music is a great springboard to build a recipe, and the inspiration from the music can lead to something special in the beer. I grew up in a very musical family and it is fun to combine my two passions in this weird, fun way. There is science behind it, but it all comes down to how the beer tastes.”

When aging beer, brewers have to consider such things as fermentation temperature, duration and type of wood. Music was never a factor. At least until DesRosiers began thinking about a tonguein-cheek way to marry his love of music with making beer. “It started as joke,” he explains, “and then we wondered if the bass would cause enough vibration to move the yeast around [in the barrel] and create some different flavors during fermentation.” DesRosiers then discovered that there is some real science behind “good vibrations” and beer making.

Old Dirty Barrel

According to Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, centuries ago, beer fermentation rituals included exposure to drumming and noisy festivals. In that spirit, Will Meyers of Cambridge Brewing Company brewed a beer called “Om” which was stimulated by the sounds of tuning forks during the fermentation process. The technique used to create the affectionately named, Old Dirty Barrel is legitimate, and Dock Street has a good chance of proving that musical stimulation can help produce a great beer. Aleksandr “Sasha” Certo-Ware of Dock Street isn’t sure what the outcome will be, but he’s willing to make an educated guess. “We’re not quite sure to be totally honest. Yeast is a living organism and it reacts to the environment around it. Certainly I think there’s sound science in vibration and the experiment here – I think it will absolutely have an effect on the organism.”

The beer, Ain’t Nothin’ to Funk With, will be released in early October, complete with a special release party at the brewery featuring Kung Fu movies and brewery tours, and of course, the sounds of Wu-Tang Clan will be pumping.

Stay tuned, “Masta Brewa” DesRosiers already has his sights set on the next music series release fermented to the hip hop sounds of Run The Jewels

West Philly Born and Raised

• It’s no secret that Dock Street Brewery loves their neighborhood. They are taking that love to a whole new level by culturing naturally occurring yeast and bacteria from the area to produce a new beer!

• Michael Soo, a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania and avid homebrewer, is heading up the search for a West Philly sour culture for a special brew to be made at Dock Street Brewery.

Taking samples from Clark Park, tree-lined City Avenue and the brewery, Soo is hoping to create unique strains of Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces that share the same upbringing as The Fresh Prince.

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