Archive for June, 2011

Face it: Your Monday is in desperate need of a fix-up, a face-lift, a transplant, a re-do and anything and everything in between – just so long as it doesn’t feel like a Monday anymore. Well, luckily for you Cicero’s Venue and I Went to a Show are here to help fix, if not solve, that whole Monday thing, tomorrow (Monday, June 27th) at 7:30p. If your spirits aren’t lifted by the hook-laden, world-beat percussive sounds of Givers you might not have a pulse. Givers are poised to be the next breakout indie band, especially thanks to the attention given to them by the Dirty Projectors who gave them the duty/honor of opening for them in 2009. Recently, Givers received the “Jimmy Fallon Bump” and were the music guests on his June 13th show (the music/introduction starts at about 36:37). Givers were on everyone’s “must see” list this year at SXSW, which typically bodes well for fledgling indie rock and pop acts. Have a look for yourself; Givers explode on stage at SXSW, and nearly every other live performance I’ve yet to see myself. You’re sure to witness another thunderous and enchanting show tomorrow night at Cicero’s.

I Went to a Show, a local music blog, is presenting the show here at Cicero’s and they knew what they were doing when lining up Givers along with Pepper Rabbit and 1,2,3. If you’re one of the lucky ones to join them during their pre-show Tweet-Up (Up, Up – a clever take on the first single by Givers) you might also be heading to the show for free – join them during the Tweet-Up where they’ll be giving away a pair of free tickets to the show. Come out and upgrade your Monday with new friends, great new music (you know you want to be able to say you “saw that band that was on Jimmy Fallon at Cicero’s once”) and a few brews from Cicero’s outstanding beer selection.

About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. She also loves to talk to her cats, walk around the duck pond judging duck hair-do’s and collect vinyl records. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello! 


By Eric and Mimi Griffith

Multiple city tour across the nation? Check. Fans lining up in anticipation of your arrival? Check.  Flashbulbs popping and video cameras rolling? Check. Signing tons of autographs? Check. Rushed in and out of venues by an entourage? Check. Stage dives? Check.

This would appear to be the prerequisites for a rock star with a top ten album, but actually it is just a day in the life of Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder of Stone Brewing Co.  If you haven’t heard about his antics or experienced him in person just check out this clip to get a feel for the energy and intensity he brings to his “beer sermons.”

An Arrogant Bastard is Born

So how did we get here?  And I don’t mean here on Earth, I mean standing in a bar with a glass of beer raised in celebration of a once angry young man who has finally decided it’s time to share his much sought after brews with the craft beer fanatics of St. Louis.  As Greg noted, his most frequent question when traveling to new markets is “What took you so long?”

You see Stone Brewing has been turning out the good stuff since 1996 in Escondido,CA, and they have been one of the fasted growing breweries in the nation over the past 10 years.  It all started when Greg discovered how wonderful beer could be while he sipped a steam beer from Anchor Brewing.  He describes the feeling as being lied to by the mass marketed, fizzy-yellow beer makers, also known as “the man.”  The rock star CEO sums up the epiphany as “boy meets beer, boy falls in love, boy has new career.”

Koch teamed up with Steve Wagner and together they founded Stone Brewing while homebrewing their first beers.  Well it sounds like Steve was homebrewing and Greg was sanitizing and fantasizing.  He developed the gargoyle to serve as the face of Stone Brewing and it also serves as the protector whose job is to ward off cheap ingredients, and preservatives.  Stone produces stronger, bigger character beers than most breweries, but Koch believes that Americans have taste and he will not pander to the lowest common denominator.

The recipe of outstanding beer, in-your-face labels, high quality ingredients, and heaps of passion has pushed Stone from 400 barrels in 1996 to 115,000 barrels of nectar in 2010, and it now distributes to 35 states. The Q & A session atCicero’sBeerSchoolwas more in the vain of an intimate, sit-down, acoustic jam, but like any good rock star, Greg Koch brought along several of his greatest hits…

The Beer
Stone Levitation Ale

He says- I am ready to make this my new favorite session beer.  It appears dark brown in the glass leading you toward the malt side, but then grabs you with a dry-hopped aroma of Amarillo and Simcoe.  There is a sweet background to the flavor, but the aroma helps balance out the palate.  You would never guess this is only 4.4% ABV and it lets you know that lower alcohol does not have to equal lower taste.

 She says- Modest on alcohol but big on flavor.  The toasty malts introduce a sweet flavor right off the bat that is followed by the citrus and piney notes of the hop blends.  How great to find a full flavor beer that is completely sessionable!  You could drink Levitation with a variety of different foods and be happy.


Stone IPA

He says- Crisp and clear to the eye with a light amber color.  This is a true, original West Coast IPA with big citrus leaning hops.

I know why this is Stone’s top seller.  Creamy in the mouth yet refreshing on the finish.  It does everything an IPA should do.  Centennial and Chinook fans will be very pleased.

 She says- I noticed citrus hops as the first scent, but it wasn’t overwhelming like some IPAs.  It had a medium body and a crisp finish.  The hop profile will make IPA fans happy.  This is a lovely beer!

Arrogant Bastard

He says- While Greg Koch discouraged the practice, I did age an Arrogant Bastard Ale for one year and it was still delicious.  This is a strong ale with

hops as the focus.  Caramel and nut flavors hide behind a mask of “classified” hops.  It comes with a nice 7.2% ABV so you can share a few sips with a friend.  Aging the beer took away the hop nose, but the complexity of the beer was not lost.  Is this a self portrait of the CEO?  Read the label and decide for yourself.

 She says- I found it to be slightly smoky on the nose.  I agree with Eric in that the word complex is a good one for this beer.  The malt and hop balance was wonderful yet each was distinctive.  This beer is full of fabulous personality.

Stone Ruination

He says- Another great IPA from Stone, this time it’s a Double India Pale Ale with an ABV of 7.7%.  Stronger, sweeter, and stickier than the IPA.  This beer packs over 100 IBUs and is slapping my tongue with extreme amounts of Centennial and Columbus hops.  Save this one for the end of the night because as the name implies your palate will be ruined for all other brews.

 She says- We found out that this was the first Double IPA to ever be bottled for distribution.  As a hophead I love DIPAs and this one was great.  I taste lots of pine from the hops.  This beer does not ruin my palate, but rather fills my taste buds with a million reminders of why I became a hop lover.

The Last Sip

As Greg recites his monologue from the back of the Arrogant Bastard label we realize he either has a really good memory or he truly lives this mantra everyday.  Probably a mixture of both, but the reality is he turns out great beer and we are happy to finally have Stone Brewing inSt. Louis.




About the Authors: Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about a year now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for five years and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, just realized beer actually has flavor about a year ago. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!

Hearing names like “Coco”, “Poni” and “Jem” used nonchalantly, as nicknames, typically conjures up thoughts of cartoon characters or maybe roller derby players – not rock and roll musicians. Based out of Nashville, Tennesee, The Ettes have put a much sexier edge to your regular idea of punchy garage-bands. This once a quartet, now a trio with a new bass player, has seen it all and cataloged it in their fun, raucous, satisfying mix of punk, rock and a little bit of that Nashville twang – with much rougher edges, that is. Be sure to clear your calendar for Saturday, June 11th as The Ettes come to Cicero’s to deliver their rock talent, sure to make you dance, clap, scream and sweat in a heap full of fun. Lindsay “Coco” Hames, lead guitarist and singer, filled me in on some of The Ettes fun, including Drew Barrymore extending an invitation to be on her film, Whip It, soundtrack and sharing bills with some stellar musical companions. 
You had a track (“Crown of Age”) appear on the Whip It soundtrack; how does getting feature on a soundtrack usually work? Does the film producer or film’s music person come to or…? Explain the process.
Drew [Barrymore] approached me personally actually, at one of our shows at SXSW.  I am picky about what our music gets used for, but I love Drew, and I loved the film.  We were out with Juliette Lewis around that time too, and Juliette was in the film, it was kind of a no-brainer, in terms of how great all the people involved were.
As a former derby girl, I have to ask…what did you think of the film using one of your tracks as a “derby” girl type of anthem? What did you think of them using your song to correlate to roller derby?
We Ettes are massive derby supporters.  Derby girls are rock and roll, so we always get along.  Hard working, great sense of humor, constantly covered in bruises… we’re pretty much the same, but they’re on wheels!  I thought that was a great derby anthem.  It’s a song about living and learning, so what a good scene to use it in, the climactic sort of moral victory for Ellen Page’s character.  It’s less about “derby” than it is about human emotion, really, so it works for me on several levels.
You’ve shared the stage with some pretty massive names in rock and roll; how does it feel to headline your own gigs?
Funny thing is, we started OUT headlining our own gigs.  They were just tiny gigs, is all.  There’s just a difference between playing a massive arena for 6,000 screaming girls and playing a 500 capacity club where people are listening intently… we play the same, I’ve noticed, for 2 people or 20,000, whether we’re headlining or not.  We’re always respectful when we’re supporting other headliners, but I think we’ve got a lot of personality, ha.  I think we treat every show we play as a headlining show.
Your newest album, Wicked Will, is set to be released August 2nd. Can you tell us a bit about this album? How does it differ from your last? How was the recording process?
I love Wicked Will.  It’s got some really amazing bangers on there, as well as some creepy country songs, which are some of my favorites to write.  We almost always go to Toe Rag because — as a three piece — dynamics are important, space between sound, elements of sound.  No one gets that better than Liam.  I want my vocal to sound the way I sound, Jem’s bass leading the music, and I want that kick drum in my face.  There’s plenty of that!
Do you have any favorite types of venues or cities that you like to play?
The tour we did with the Dead Weather last year had us playing at a bunch of venues we hadn’t played before, some of which turned out to be my favorites ever.  I gotta love me some Cain’s Ballroom, and the show in Albuquerque was amazing.  We’ve been on the road for a solid 7 years (like… 7 years without a break, at all!) so we’ve played just about everywhere.  Anywhere where the music is loud and the people are paying attention, it’s a great time.
What’s been the most insane thing to happen to you while on tour?
Totally impossible to answer.  Too many wild and unbelievable things.  It’s a game, really, that way, on the road.  Other touring friends will tell some totally insane story from the road, and we’ll nod our heads and go “mm hm, one of those” because it all happens, all the time.  I have a scar on my shoulder I do not appreciate from a fan who bit me in the Black Forest in Germany last year.  It’s all right though, she was just expressing her enthusiasm, I can’t blame her for that.
In terms of the set list, with a new album coming out does it change the way you structure your sets? How so?
Well we get excited about playing newer stuff, because it’s new and exciting to us.  And potentially (likely) a stronger representation of who we are now.  But we’ve gone to plenty of other shows as fans, we know people want to hear their favorites, too.  It changes every night.  We play to the crowd.  You want it?  Ask for it, you just might get it!
About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. She also loves to talk to her cats, walk around the duck pond judging duck hair-do’s and collect vinyl records. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello!