Sterling’s Ocelot Brewing Company is no stranger to music. They’re named after a Phish song, their logo is a guitar pick, and you may have seen them pouring beer from a customized jockey box that looks like a Marshall guitar amplifier at area beer festivals. Well, now they’ve collaborated with Canadian hardcore band F*cked Up on a saison, called One Day. As luck would have it, F*cked Up’s album, also titled One Day, drops on Friday, January 27, 2023. One Day the beer comes out the same day. We talked to Ocelot Head Brewer Jack Snyder and F*cked Up drummer and resident beer nerd Jonah Falco about the collaboration.
DCBeer: You’re collaborating with Ocelot on a saison. Are you cool with working with a brewery named after a Phish song?
Jonah Falco: Hahaha, Phish have never been my bag, but Mike from Fucked Up has been to see their New Years’ Eve show at Madison Square Garden and to be honest, Fucked Up had a “jam” period so maybe it was fate after all.
Jack Snyder: We reached out to Merge Records. Mike Caulo, who formerly oversaw publicity at the label, is a friend of the brewery and had been kind enough to point us in the right direction. Fucked Up had already announced their forthcoming album One Day, and we hoped there might be an opportunity to work with the band and the label on a beer tied to the record. There are several very big fans of Fucked Up within the Ocelot family, and when we discovered that there was a mutual interest in the idea, it didn’t take long to set everything in motion.
DCB: Can you tell us about the brew day, how everyone collaborated on the beer style, the hops, and yeast? Why a saison?
Snyder: Because saison is the most hyped style in the marketplace right now, of course. Jokes aside, we began with a handful of potential styles, and honestly none of them were IPAs. We do plenty of IPA-centric collaborations every year, so it was nice to move in a different direction.
Falco: We were in conversation for a few weeks deciding on how this should come together. The hop selection was led by the team at Ocelot and I had a last minute suggestion to add Czech Saaz hops, which Ocelot graciously took on board. Without Saaz at hand, Ocelot had some German Tettnanger hops and added those as a parallel to help bring some of that brightness to it.
Snyder: Jonah contributed a great deal to fleshing out what we were going to make together. He’s got an impressive beer acumen and had a lot of particular reference points in mind, so it didn’t take long to deliberate and narrow our focus. We were on a Zoom at one point (Jonah lives in England), and we sort of caught ourselves reminiscing about our own times spent drinking Saison Dupont. It made too much sense to ignore, especially considering that a quaffable beer was at the top of our joint checklist. So saison became our launchpad into recipe development. (Given the “one day” construct of the record, we floated the idea of a barleywine with a 24-hour boil… but no one wants to sip that on stage.)
As saison relates to One Day – and Jonah likely has even more to add here – I think we were drawn to saison’s history as an unfussy, utilitarian refreshment for seasonal farmworkers in Europe. Saison was a beer that quenched your thirst. It fit into the flow of whatever you sought to accomplish that day. It could also be a beer you enjoyed after a day’s hard work. From a recipe standpoint, it’s a beer with a lot going on – a multigrain grist, old and new world hops, two yeast strains – but it presents as an inviting, dry beverage. You don’t need to know – and indeed you might not notice – everything that went into making it. In our heads, this tied directly to the album. One Day is made up of all these incredibly dense, complicated, interlocking musical components, but on the surface each of the ten songs is just completely approachable and melodic. Fist pumpers, you might call them.
For hopping, we used additions of German Tettnanger in the kettle, and then finished the wort with a small whirlpool charge of Amarillo. We fermented with a co-pitch of Belgian & French saison strains from Jasper Yeast.
Falco: Fucked Up’s new record, One Day, is a kind of real time meditation on what you can accomplish in a day — the whole record was made by each member separately over a period of 24 hours. Saison came to mind because of its association with being brewed for farm workers or seasonal workers who needed something that kept longer and probably eased the pain of a very long single day of work and also for its reputation as something for a special occasion. Somewhat less thematically it has always been a favourite of mine and seemed like some of the complexity in the flavours of Saison would “pair well” with all the moving parts in the music. Bright, biting and fresh.
DCB: Jonah, you tour a lot, are you able to hit up bars and breweries before or after shows? Favorite beer towns/cities, beer bars, and breweries in your travels?
Falco: Touring Europe and the American Midwest always produces some spectacular beers both on the riders and in bars. Getting to drink in Café Kulminator in Antwerp a few years ago was a real treat (although likely very bad for the set), drinking peppery pilsener in the Slovenian Alps, and trying to beat a hangover in 100 degree heat at Warpigs in Copenhagen all stand out as great memories.
DCB: Having seen the world, is there anything worse for beer than the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), which controls the distribution and sales of alcoholic beverages throughout the province of Ontario?
Falco: Laughing a lot at this. The LCBO is such a bizarre and arbitrary place and equally frustrating as it is mystifying. There was a period of time where you could get unbelievable Belgian beers in the LCBO for what felt like pennies (or Belgian prices) but these days…. not so sure.
DCB: Is the Oberon EP named after the beer from Bells?
Falco: Ha no it isn’t, it’s named after the Lord of the Forest from Shakespeare (who probably appears after about ten bottles of those beers)
One Day the beer also comes out on Friday, January 27 at Ocelot, and should be in distribution the week after. Thanks to both Jonah and Jack for chatting with us.