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2011 Top Ten Pairings for Best Beers and Beats

Editor’s Note: As a disclaimer, we take no responsibility for the content of the songs below, and the content from some of them may be NSFW, as is some of the language below.

In the past we at DCBeer.com have been reticent to put out end-of-year lists. However, this year, as our friends at Flying Dog Brewery urged, we are embracing the fear…head on. We picked songs and beers “released” in 2011. We realize some of these beers were “released” earlier, but they “appeared” in the DMV in 2011.Stealing a page (or six words) from our good friends at DCist.com with their “Popcorn & Candy” preamble, we are touting our 2011 Top Ten Pairings for Best Beers and Beats as a “highly subjective and hardly comprehensive guide.” As the resident New Yorkers turned-DMVers on the DCBeer staff, we felt it our civic duty to present to you the suds and sounds that made us pop bottle tops and lock in playlist spots in 2011. – Mike Stein and Jake Berg

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Otis – Brewery Ommegang and Brasserie d ‘Achouffe- Gnomegang
Two dudes who know their shit casually tossing off one-liners and mugging it up pairs nicely with two titans of the craft beer industry, Ommegang and d ‘Achouffe, who teamed up to create a stellar strong blonde ale. We also would have accepted: Flying Dog’s tribute to and partnership with Dutch bar In De Wildeman, via their cross between IPA and saison.

XO – Blah Blah – DC Brau Brewing Company- Barrel Aged Citizen and Penn Quarter Porter

While, Fox News alert, some people cling to Wale as the savior of DC, XO is holding it down for real heads in the district. While people got smart to DC Brau via the Public Pale Ale, heads know the Citizen and Penn Quarter Porter run the show. Both of these gems are also being barrel-aged; don’t miss them.
We also would have accepted: Port City Brewing Company’s Porter, and Lost Rhino’s Pacific Pilsner, both criminally slept on in the DMV.

Nas – Nasty – Dogfish Head Brewery – Hellhound on My Ale

The first single from the new Nas album serves as a reminder that he’s still capable of greatness. You could daytrip to Dogfish Head from here, and it seems that we take them for granted, but here’s your reminder that Dogfish is still quite capable of greatness. Hellhound on My Ale is a double IPA that comes in at a bracing 10 percent ABV and is backed by a lemony citrus blast.

We also would have accepted: Founders Brewing Company’s Harvest Ale; the 2011 iteration is everything a harvest ale should be and a reminder of the vitality of that style. “I’m not in the winters of my life or the beginning stage, I am the dragon.” While Nas said it, it’s true for both Founders and Dogfish Head, better recognize.

Danny Brown – Monopoly – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales- Luciernaga
Shit-talker goes from goofy to serious with the quickness, jarring your ears, kind of like how Jolly Pumpkin’s Luciernaga “The Firefly” plays with sweet and sour flavors, jarring your tastebuds.

We also would have accepted: Odell Brewing Company Friek, a framboise-kriek hybrid that hit similar sweet-and-sour notes and was originally conceived and co-brewed with a Northern Colorado homebrewer, or Avery Brewing Company’s Dihos Dactylion, which features a similar flavor profile.

Tyler the Creator – YonkersEvolution Craft Brewing – Lot 6 DIPA aged in rum barrels.

With a demonic belch and propulsive beat, Tyler demands to be heard. The first stand-up-and-take-notice rap single of 2011 pairs well with the first stand-up-and-take-notice beer of 2011: a limited edition, draft-only run of Evolution Craft Brewing’s Lot 6 Double IPA aged in rum barrels that made it to The Big Hunt in January. That beer was similarly intense and demanding.

We also would have accepted: The Saint Louis Brewery, Schafly’s Hop Toddy, previously mentioned here, which jumps straight into your tastebuds and really does taste like a hot toddy.

The Roots – Kool On – The Thornbridge Brewery- Kipling


The best song off one of the ballsier choices in rap in recent memory (a 40 minute concept album bookended by two Sufjan Stevens’ suites) pairs well with one of the ballsiest upstarts in British brewing. Thornbridge, whose Kipling is billed as a “South Pacific Pale Ale” thanks to Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, made a bold move by eschewing any number of British hop varities for that one. But what a payoff. Perhaps the best use of that hop I’ve had.

We also would have accepted: Oliver Breweries and 3 Stars Brewing Company’s BW Rye blend, aged in rye barrels, because both it and The Roots’ Undun are late additions to your 2011 best of, well worth the wait.

Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire ft. Despot, Das Racist, Danny Brown, EL-P – The Last Huzzah – Anchorage Brewing Company – Whiteout Wit


Coming out of nowhere (no offense, Alaska), the former head brewer at Midnight Sun went all in on his first solo effort, triple fermenting a witbier that became something else entirely. The spicy marriage of wit, chardonnay barrels, champagne yeast, and Brett yeast reminds us of the interplay between some of indie hip hop’s luminaries in 2011.

We’ve paired this witbier remix with a loving and gentle spoof of the one that kicked off the remix craze. Like Anchorage, these rappers are ones to keep an eye on.
We also would have accepted: Anything else from Anchorage. Love Buzz and Bitter Monk may still be on some local shelves. Invest heavily.

French Inhale- Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa ft. Mike Posner – Bayou Teche – Boucanée
A smoked beer with two of rap’s biggest stoners might seem too obvious, but there’s nothing obvious about a cherrywood-smoked wheat ale, that’s surprisingly subtle, delicate, and delicious, the exact opposite of this track.

We also would have accepted: Victory Brewing Company’s Otto, a smoked Belgian-style dubbel, for the same reason.

Raekwon – From the Hills (Featuring Method Man and Raheem Devaughn) – 3 Stars Brewing Company/Evolution Craft Brewing – Syndicate Saison

“From the Hills of the Shaolin with an iron fist of fury and a mighty sword to fulfill the prophecy of the Wu Tang,” not just the hook but an active description of what Rae and Meth bring to this track. Raheem Devaughn croons in his high octave to complete the horn-happy banger off of “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang.” Rae and Meth have some incredible solo material but when they come together they are unstoppable. The same can be said for both 3 Stars and Evolution. There were a few iterations of this limited beer, but the one that stood out to us was a cask, dry-hopped with Saaz, which debuted on SAVOR Saturday and managed to outshine many at the main event.

We also would have accepted: Gueuzerie Tilquin, Oude Gueuze Tilquin a l’Ancienne, the first Belgium-blended gueuze since 1997 will assault your palate with waves of sourness, yet you won’t be able to put it down.

Phonte – The Life of Kings (Featuring Evidence and Big K.R.I.T) – Six Point Craft Ales – Diesel Stout
From the men instrumental in the creation of Little Brother, Phonte and 9th Wonder are still making beautiful music together. Big K.R.I.T and Evidence join Phonte to wax poetic about what it means to be a king in the 21st century. By having Evidence, who’s been in the game longer than he, Phonte links past with present. Future comes in the form of Big K.R.I.T who has big shoes to fill following the verses of Phonte (Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange), and Evidence (Dilated Peoples). This song keeps your head bobbing every couple of bars and features three incredible MCs who represent the truly intelligent microphone-checking masters of ceremony. We pair this song with Six Point’s Diesel stout. If a stout like this had been around at the turn of the century, brewers would shake their fingers at Six Point for using too many hops. Despite stout written on the can, Diesel has been called a black IPA and with good reason. I’m wondering why ‘complex black ale,’ ‘hoppy stout,’ or ‘bitter American stout’ hasn’t caught on? This beer overflows with Columbus hops, both in the kettle and also for dry-hopping. Diesel has a big roasted, nutty, chocolate character and the complex roasted malts play well with the hop punch that gas it up to 69 IBUs. The thick body provides a great mouthfeel for the complex flavors that are all going on in this beer. Take some time with Phonte and consider Diesel the perfect pair as you contemplate some unanswerable questions.

We also would have accepted: Gordon Biersch Rockville’s Gose, which also links past and present by resurrecting this Leipzig-born style.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments what your favorite rap and beer pairings were this year!

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