Some musicians collaborate on band T-shirts. Icarus Witch collaborates on hand-crafted beer.
Heavy metal bands and Pittsburgh breweries are known for their long-standing relationships. For Spoonwood Brewing Head Brewer, Steve Ilnicki, and local heavy metal band’s Icacrus Witch founder, Jason Myers, we’re talking almost 30 years. These classmates from Moon Senior High School have remained in touch for decades thanks to their mutual love and respect for all-things heavy – including heavy metal and heavy beer. To meld their passions for goodmusic and great beer, they’ve come together to collaborate on a dark, wintry stout, appropriately named “Bitter End”.
Back in 2016, Ilnicki and Myers collaborated on their first brew project, Icarus Wit, a well-received dark German wheat beer accompanied by raw cacao and fittingly named with the band in mind. This time around, they wanted to incorporate two of the band’s staples – dark beer and bold coffee. “We tend to gravitate toward the bigger and darker beers. Whether in the studio or on the road, coffee and beer are the two major beverages that we run on, so this was a match made in hop & bean heaven,” says Myers. The band also wanted to be more involved in choosing the ingredients, as well as partaking in the brewing process. Once they dropped their latest album, Goodbye Cruel World which debuted on October 26, Icarus Witch was able to focus their efforts on working hand-in-hand with Spoonwood Brewing.
To incorporate the band’s affinity for coffee, Myers sought out Black Forge Coffee House, because it seemed like a natural fit. The coffeehouse, whose slogan is “Darkness Brewing Eternal”, not only brews coffee that’s top-notch, it’s become a gathering place for neighbors and metal heads alike. When coffeehouse owners Ashley Corts and Nick Miller took up shop in the city’s Allentown neighborhood, they not only wanted to take part in the neighborhood’s urban revitalization process, they wanted to create a coffeehouse that doubled as a music venue and art gallery where heavy metal acts could perform and local artists could exhibit dark art. For all of the right reasons, Black Forge’s coffee became the chief ingredient for the dark stout’s flavor.
Cooking up in Steve Ilnicki’s cauldron were “Blast Beat Espresso” beans and over 1,200 pounds of malt, including Belgian Caramel, Kiln Coffee Malts and American Midnight Wheat. With all parties wanting to be involved, Icarus Witch band members and Black Forge Coffee House owners spent the day assisting Steve with Spoonwood’s brewing process. The result was a full-bodied, bitter stout with subtle hoppiness to allow the cold-brewed espresso to shine through. Affectionately named Bitter End, after one of the tracks from Icarus Witch’s new album, the beer finishes off with a creamy dark chocolate and velvety toffee flavor.
Seriously, are you drooling or is it just us?
Definitely worth noting were the intentions of the brewery, band and coffeehouse to create a hand-crafted beer, rich in ethically sourced, cruelty-free and vegan-friendly ingredients. Myers, along with his girlfriend and “Bitter End” bottle-label designer Aubrianna Veitz are both strict vegans and notes, “Many beers still use animal products in the filtration or in their ingredients.
Steve was adamant about keeping this brew cruelty-free. Combine this with the fact that the barrels of spent grains in the processing are donated to a local farm in Kittanning, PA to feed the animals, this project could have easily been called Goodbye Cruel Beer.”Black Forge Coffee House owner Nick Miller adds, “The coffee that Black Forge is contributing to Spoonwood Brewing are ethically sourced from Sumatra, Mexico and Tanzania.”
A brewery, band and coffee house with a conscious – we like that.
Quite possibly the best part of this collaboration is that it’s coming together full-circle. Black Forge Coffee House, located at 1206 Arlington Avenue, will be hosting Icarus Witch for their last metal show of 2018 on December 2 at 6pm. To celebrate the release of their new album Goodbye Cruel World and Spoonwood Brewing’s “Bitter End” 7.7% ABV dark double espresso stout, the vegan-friendly, limited-run brew will be available in heavy metal inspired 22oz bomber bottles. If you can’t make the release party, visit Spoonwood Brewing located at 5981 Baptist Road in Bethel Park, PA over the holidays, for a taste of the bold stout while supplies last.