Saturday, February 24, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Cigar City Brewpub, St. Petersburg rock band team up for new beer

New World Brewery, on any given night, is occupied by musicians entertaining patrons whose taste buds are awash with some of the best beers the world has to offer. The sounds often come from a local artist, and with the Tampa Bay area's craft brew scene growing exponentially, the suds are usually local too.

A serendipitous mash-up of all of those elements will happen in Ybor City on Friday when St. Petersburg indie rock quartet Alexander and the Grapes arrive at New World to celebrate a new 7-inch single (on beer-colored vinyl) as well as the release of their own signature beer brewed and bottled by the Cigar City Brewpub. The brew — a dry, hoppy double IPA brewed with muscadine grapes from Dade City — drinks lighter than its 9.2 percent alcohol by volume and possesses some raisin character in the malt.

"It tastes like an IPA that you want to drink a million of," said Tim Ogden, "but you won't get that far."

Ogden, 36, was the lead brewer at Cigar City Brewing's original production facility before the brewery opened the brewpub at 15491 N Dale Mabry Highway. At his new post as the restaurant's head brewer, Ogden has been afforded an opportunity to go back to his roots and brew smaller batches of beer that he describes as "slightly left of cool, but not in the obvious way."

Known for the attention to detail he utilizes to brew award-winning beer, Ogden, who first heard Alexander and the Grapes at a New World show, loves the band's subtleties, nuances and sonic-lyrical juxtaposition.

"It is just very sincere," Ogden said. "The music just emotes."

Grapes frontman Alexander Charos has a similar appreciation for Ogden's work, citing Cigar City's Tocobaga Red Ale — a beer Ogden wrote the recipe for — as one of his all-time favorites. The pair linked up thanks to Facebook after Ogden liked the band's page. A short series of online exchanges eventually spawned a face-to-face meeting.

"I was stoked because he seemed like a real fan and worked at my favorite brewery," said Charos, 25. "We met up at New World, shared beers and Drum tobacco, then brainstormed beer ideas. It was great."

Last month, they met at the brewpub, carefully mixed the muscadine in with Belgian "Forbidden Fruit" yeast, Nelson Sauvin hops and caramelized malts all while the sounds of the Grapes' debut LP, Hemispheres, and Wilco played in the background. Charos asked a bunch of questions about brewing, and Ogden simply relished another chance to share his love of making beer with someone else.

They ended up packaging 1,600 750-ml bottles, and there'll be a limited amount of the beer on tap at New World Brewery.

"Working with Alexander was chill. We talked, listened to music, and had a few beers," said Ogden. "It's always more fun to have someone to hang with."

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