Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brewer and Musician Extraordinaire: Kyle Hollingsworth

We learned recently the The String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth is a very accomplished home brewer, having been invited to craft signature beers at several Colorado breweries. And next week he continues to release signature beers, through the three night Hoppy Holidays series, where Hollingsworth performs with the Kyle Hollingsworth Band and in between sets introduces the audience to some craft beer. The events are modeled after previous Hollingsworth happenings such as Kyle’s Brew Fest and the Rock & Brew Tour, where Hollingsworth introduces his musical fans to excellent craft brewed beers - many his signature beers. The first two nights feature beers crafted between Kyle and Boulder Beer Company and are held at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver on the 10th and Hodi's Half Note in Fort Collins on the 11th. The series culminates with a fundraiser at Avery Brewing on the 12th where proceeds from the evening benefits Conscious Alliance, a charity feeding impoverished communities. This event is unique in that it will be held in Avery Brewing's barrel room - music as well as tasting beer from the Hollingsworth\Avery collaboration.

Leading up to these events we had a chance to discuss with Hollingsworth his brewing experience. He started at an early age, 18 or 19 years of age - when consumption of alcohol was legal at that age. At the time he lived in Baltimore and purchased a home brew kit at a store in nearby Ellicott City. He remembers enjoying the beers from the old Sisson's Brewpub (now Heavy Seas Brewery) and wanted to reproduce those quality beers. His first brew was a light lager, but he quickly turned to Porters, not only for its amicable characteristics, but also because it seemed easier to produce. He remained a leisurely home brewer until he relocated to Colorado where the presence of a vibrant brewing community elevated his interest. He decided to become a more serious home brewer and even received advice from home brew guru Charlie Papazian author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition (Harperresource Book).

Because of the heavy touring regularly scheduled for The String Cheese Incident, Hollingsworth only brews a handful of times a year. Music is still the number one priority. He used to schedule brewing so he would have a six pack to bring on the road, but over the years has had to ask others to babysit the bottles. Today he store's his beer in Kegerators, so the nightmare of an amateur bottling line has ended. And since his band mates don't really share his strong attraction to craft beers - no kegs on the bus. His palette has also changed over the years where today he prefers the hoppy India Pale Ale styles.

But what has kept him attracted to crafting beer is its similarity to writing music. At some point they both require a creative "leap of faith" whether trying something new in the brewing process (using a new grain or adding a botanical like sassafras) or mixing in a new style of music. The result of this attraction will be on display next week in Colorado.

To learn more about Hollingsworth check out this video from his YouTube channel. If you are new to Untying the Not, and branch out from there.

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