Austin Soul

Independence Brewing Company’s Austin Amber
and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Soul to Soul

A pairing for National Drink Beer Day. Although it’s the first year I’ve heard about it, I did indeed indulge in some local craft beer to celebrate this year along with another local love, some Stevie Ray Vaughan. The Austin Amber is made right here in Austin, right off of Todd Lane close to where I used to live in town by Amy and Rob Cartwright at Independence Brewing Company.

The Amber is a yummy brew top to bottom. The brewers quote, “A beer as laid back as Austin, our American Amber is smooth and refreshing.  The specialty malts lend caramel sweetness while American hops add balance and a crisp finish that will have you tipping that glass up for more.”

Austin Amber Stats

Style: American Amber
Alcohol by volume: 4.8%
Original Gravity: 12°
Bitterness units: 32
Yeast: American Ale/Chico
Hops: Nugget, Cascade
Malts: American Two-Row, Belgian Special B, Caramel 20, Chocolate
Availability: Year Round, Draft & 6-packs
Food Pairing: BBQ pork, grilled salmon, roasted chicken, burgers

Soul to Soul is one of those albums that I first only ever heard on CD and quite frankly, I never really thought the album sounded that great. Turns out it was just the digital rendering that didn’t do this particular album justice. When I finally heard this album on vinyl my opinion of it changed drastically.

Truly the CD sounds terrible compared to the quality of the analog mastering done when this puppy went to vinyl. It’s a night and day difference and another great case for vinyl’s superiority.

Bringing these two Austin classics together made for a pleasurable Texas evening of sounds and suds to wash back the week with. Signing off from Austin! Cheers!

Castle of Destiny

A 2009 Pinot Noir from Castle Rock and “Sad Wings of Destiny” by Judas Priest

We’re breaking out the classic metal tonight to pair with this super fine Pinot Noir from Castle Rock wineries. This particular Pinot is from Monterey County and it’s my understanding, now that I’ve done a bit of research, that there is another Pinot that they have released from Mendocino County that gets even higher marks than this one. That said, the Monterey County Pinot is in no way anything to turn your nose up at, although it does have a very sweet nose. Much sweeter than the flavor and palate of the wine. I could truly imagine this wine going quite well with an Italian family style feast or a hearty beef fillet.

Sad Wings of Destiny is the second album release by Judas Priest released in 1976. It’s a surprisingly blues infused album that has a crossover vibe with the operatic vocal stylings of Rob Halford and blues rock musical themes. There’s even a few songs that feature the piano predominantly. Not exactly what most people think of when you say Judas Priest.

When all these genre’s merge, what you have is a very diverse album compared to their later releases. I for one really appreciate the blues and classical influences of their early material. Long before the leather and studs, yes friends, Judas Priest, much like Black Sabbath, started as a blues band and for a period of time, these influences still had a strong presence in their music.

These lingering influences of the blues make for what is in my opinion some truly powerful music. Now, that’s not to say that their later music isn’t powerful. Quite the contrary, Judas Priest remains relevant even to this day as a powerhouse metal band still evolving and adapting with the times.

This particular edition of Sad Wings of Destiny is a brand new limited edition 180 gram gate fold reissue by Koch Records. It is an excellent pressing and has such a low noise floor that it truly allows you to crank this puppy up super loud and enjoy all of the stellar vinyl quality. One of the things that I love most about 180 gram reissues is the super low noise floor. When you break open one of these releases and place it on your turntable for the first time, in super clean form, the noise floor is superior to that of a compact disc. Truly not even in the same universe as an mp3 or streaming internet media. In short, it will spoil you fast!

Together these two products of stellar craftmanship provide for a premium rock and roll evening. So until next time, bottoms up everyone!

 

Wild Is the Wind

Nina Simone – Wild Is the Wind and a 2002 Vinasoro Merlot

A Winesday night pairing to get ready for the weekend? Why not?! This vinyl came in the mail today and you can probably guess if you’ve been following the past few weeks pairings how I came to this particular vinyl. The thread has gone from Jeff Beck to Jeff Buckley and now to the queen herself Nina Simone. Lilac Wine to Lilac Wine to Lilac Wine. It’s a song that’s seriously resonating with me these days. So much so, I’ve learned it and will probably be performing it in the future.

Yes indeed this song has taken me on a journey into the deepest of soul music and this particular album from Nina, while it is evidently a leftovers compilation from her days on the Phillips record label, it actually meshes quite nicely as an LP and provides a nice glimpse into this multi talented performer. The highlight without a doubt is the title track followed closely by the tracks “Four Women” and the aforementioned “Lilac Wine”.

The Vinasaro opened with the bottom quarter of the cork breaking off while opening. Luckily any real damage was averted by using another corkscrew to lift the broken cork out of the bottle. Upon pouring the first taste to ensure the cork was not compromised, seeing how it was so brittle, I noticed the strong aroma of this 13.5% alcohol content Merlot. The Vinasoro is a wine that truly needs to breathe on the counter for a minimum of fifteen to twenty minutes before you can truly get a taste of the grape.

Once the Merlot opened up and revealed itself, at about the start of side two of this luscious vinyl, I realized that what I had on hand was one truly robust and well nurtured Merlot. While it is an extremely dry Merlot, obviously from the high alcohol content, there is enough of the grape flavor there to still enjoy the wine at the finish. It’s a woodsy stout finish that would be perfect with a pairing of a red sauce based pasta or pizza.

While I would probably recommend the vinyl more than this particular Merlot, if you crave a hyper dry Merlot that is held up by a stout Merlot flavored grape, then this wine would fit the bill for many occasions and meals. Nina is pretty fine anytime. If you are not familiar with this classically trained pianist and bluesiest of the jazz singers, I highly recommend you search out her work, you will not regret it. Fans of Billie Holiday or Etta James will surely find solace in Nina’s work. Just remember, when you hear that awesome piano; that’s her as well!

Till next time! ¡Salud!