The WeirdVinylGirl Bar Crawl

My name is Cassie and, clearly, I’ve got a thing for records and beer.  My parents had a huge and respectable record collection when I was a kid – Dad had a lot of Zeppelin and Aerosmith and the like, Mom leaned more towards Stevie Nicks and the whole Fleetwood gang, etc. – so I grew up around music being played on a turntable.  So I’m glad vinyl is, you know, a “thing” again so after twenty-some years I can finally be “cool”.  

Anyhoo, I like to think my Instagram is a little wacky and alotta weird.  I like to take unique pictures and avoid low hanging fruit, if you will.  Absurd humor is the name of the game, and I combine that with informative and (I hope) funny descriptions and histories of each record that are usually 50-60% fiction.  Which I like to think adds to the fun.  I blur the line.  There’s too much dichotomy in the world.  WeirdVinylGirl is a middle ground.  There’s lots of good info in there, but some of it’s also made up.  Because why not.

 In summary, I’m a stout girl.  This whole “let’s make a billion hazy IPAs with cool can art and sell them for $25 a four-pack because people will still buy them because they’ll look good on Instagram” trend is fine, but the good old stout is the true and eternal king of beer styles.  And though it was fun for a while, I’m very much over the whole barrel-aging thing.  There’s still some great ones.  CBS.  Epic’s Triple Barrel Big Bad Baptist is probably the best I’ve ever had.  But for the most part, I like rich, complex stouts that haven’t been boozed up.  Stone’s Xocoveza is probably my favorite beer in the world right now.  There’s so much happening, but it’s all blended so smoothly and it warms up beautifully, like a rich cup of spiced hot cocoa.  It’s a masterpiece.  And honestly my go-to stand-by is Java Head.  Nothing flashy, no bells and whistles, just a damn good stout that’s perfect for literally any occasion.  If I’m going local, Insurrection’s Bocctahhe is glorious.  Brew Gentlemen’s Mexican Coffee Stout is great, too.

Ok I’m done now, for real.

Cream’s “Wheels of Fire” at Couch Brewery:

HEY GUYS. Are you ready for a week of themed posts? And that theme? LOCAL CRAFT BEER! It’s the WeirdVinylGirl Bar Crawl! Yay! I took some of my favorite drinking records to some of my favorite Pittsburgh microbreweries, because literally nothing is better than pairing a good beer with a good record! And if you wanna join in the fun this week, tag me in a post with some of your favorite local beer and I’ll share your pic in my story! Yes! Awesome! AND. I’ve got a fun surprise planned for the end of the week. Stay tuned!
First up is Cream’s “Wheels of Fire” at the magnificent Couch Brewery near Highland Park. The beer? Atomic Punk, their pumpkin pie spiced amber ale. This smooth, spicy gal paired perfectly with “Wheels of Fire”, because – interesting fun fact about Cream – the band was actually named after drummer Ginger Baker’s famous pumpkin cream pies. Ginger Baker wasn’t even his real name, just a pseudonym derived from what he did best: baking pastries using ginger. He was best known among his friends for his pumpkin cream pie, and in fact they originally wanted to call the band “Pumpkin Cream Pie” but the label wouldn’t allow it. Anyway, on one occasion in 1968, before performing what would become the live half of this double album at the Fillmore, Baker cooked up a particularly spicy ginger and pumpkin pie, that really took notoriously gentle-tongued Jack Bruce by surprise. Referring to the pie, as the spices hit his taste buds, he exclaimed in shock, “That pie is a real wheel of fire!” And the name stuck. Anyway, I figure this is pretty elementary classic rock history but it’s a cool story for those who didn’t know all that!
And if you’re in the area, swing by and drink comfortably at Couch! Great beer (their Velvet Recliner Stout is also aces) in a bizarre and wonderful atmosphere that’s quite unlike any other brewery in town! Cheers!

Glass Animals’ “ZABA” at Brew Gentlemen:
The WeirdVinylGirl bar crawl rages on! Yinz feeling a buzz yet? Remember to pace yourself with water. And so listen, I know IPAs are, like, all anyone is brewing right now, in comical proportions, but the true king of beers is still the stout. And there are few better, not just in Pittsburgh, but anywhere than Brew Gentlemen’s Mexican Coffee Stout. Even with Paste Magazine’s  #1 DIPA in the world – Lou – on tap when I dropped in to take this picture, your girl went straight for this smooth, dark, spicy concoction. Because it’s the damn best.
And round about second-drink-of-the-night territory is when I usually love to throw on a record equally smooth and dark: “ZABA” by Glass Animals. They struck gold last year with the brighter, sunny “How to Be a Human Being”, but their debut LP is a different beast all together. Throbbing with lush jungle beats and satanic calypso vibes, “ZABA” is a densely layered and endlessly catchy descent into the heart of bizarreness, simulating the sensation of sinking into a swamp while a bunch of monkeys laugh at you from the moon lit trees above. “While my naked fool, fresh out of an icky gooey womb, a woozy womb, dope so good, a silky smooth perfume.”
An interesting fun fact, “Walla Walla” is Drew Brees’ pre-game pump up tune. A lot of uncultured folks often ask, “why haven’t you dealt with that receding hairline yet, Drew?” Surely a man of his stature would have gone to Bosley by now. But his signature masculine look is actually thanks to a ritual where he’ll close himself in a locker before every game and play that song and other selections from “ZABA” as loud as possible in complete darkness, like a reverse sensory deprivation chamber. As a result, the pulsing bass that Glass Animals employed has permanently shaken the hair out of its roots. Zaba + darkness = the Brees Cut. In fact, he once confided that his four children – Rylen, Baylen, Bowen, and Callen – are all named after made up words that he hopes will someday become cryptic titles of future Glass Animals songs. Crazy.

Childish Gambino’s “Camp” at Strange Roots:
Yo, what’s up, I’m WeirdVinylGirl and this is the WeirdVinylGirl Bar Crawl! Keep tagging me in pics of local craft beers you’re drinking and I’ll keep adding them to my story!
Millvale, PA. Home of my favorite record store in the world AND one of the best sour brewers in the country. I’m not joking. Love Jester King. Love Jolly Pumpkin. But Millvale’s Strange Roots is absolutely swinging for the fences with those giants of the industry. This is their S’mores Stout. It’s fermented with graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow. And it’s real sour. And is there a better metaphor for Childish Gambino’s “Camp” than a beer where a bunch of clashing styles all collide vigorously to create something beautiful?
Pitchfork gave this record a 1.6, forever solidifying the fact that P4k has completely abandoned any semblance of credibility. Because the self-proclaimed “only black kid at a Sufjan concert” created something brilliant with “Camp”. Witticisms that are second to none, beats that oscillate between vicious and heavenly, and a voice with strange roots indeed, pulling us along a hip hop album that’s sweet and sour and infinitely inventive. It doesn’t conform to norms of the genre, and that’s what makes it such a wild trip.
Not to mention some of my best memories are from when I was a counselor at Camp, which I already told you about, with the Miles Davis Furbies. Bonfires, Backpackers, being Outside, the Sunrise, etc. But my fondest memory was coaching a youth tennis team that, through some doctored paperwork, I officially registered as Temple University’s varsity squad, for the purpose of getting a bunch of free hotel stays around the country to boost my Starwood Preferred Membership to Platinum. I’d travel with them and then show up at the match and act real confused when my kids’ opponents were like 20 years older. “Someone in admin must have made a mistake!” Temple eventually caught on when their ranking tanked after like 12 forfeits, and I never went Platinum because one of my unsupervised tennis kids took a shit in the piano in the lobby of the Miami Sheraton and they blamed it on me. But great memories nevertheless.
Cheers, everyone! ❤

Fitz and the Tantrums’ “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” at Insurrection AleWorks:
WeirdVinylGirl Bar Crawl! Day 4! Here we go! Tag me in a pic of some local craft beer to join the crawl in my story!
I have two very distinct memories of Fitz and the Tantrums. The first is when I saw them live with no prior knowledge of who they were back in, man, 2011. I’ll never forget Michael Fitzpatrick sauntering out to the beginning of “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” and just wailing “Baaaaaaaaaaaby!” into the mic to kick off the night. Instantly, I was so IN. Way back then they were touring for this album – “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” – their debut LP, and I’m fortunate to say I was there to witness a slice of one of neo-soul’s finest offerings. It’s a blistering collection of wild tunes that teleport you back in time with their brass sections and back up soul harmonies, but also sticks its claws in you with its modern pop sensibilities. My second memory is from the Rudee Rocket dolphin watching boat in Virginia Beach, speeding full blast into some waves and getting SLAPPED in the face with a wall of salt water as “HandClap” blared over the boat’s speakers.
But the keyword there was soul. Because today I’m out at Insurrection AleWorks in Heidelberg, just a smidge south of the city. This place. This place has got soul. Heidelberg has always just kinda been there, not bothering anyone, a quiet neighborhood with a Shop N Save and the kind of Goodwill where you dumpster dive and pay by the pound. But now there’s this new heart beating right along its main drag – Insurrection – and for the first time since probably 1960 when they tore down Heidelberg Raceway, this town’s got soul again. The beer isn’t just good. It’s world class. They’re making – arguably – some of the best IPAs in the city. (Dancing Gnome fanboys incoming…) This here’s a Galaxy bomb called Cold Feet. It’s stupid good, and pairs perfectly with some classic Fitz. Plus, their in-house food, cheese, and charcuterie offerings are quite simply the best at any Pittsburgh microbrewery. It’s the area’s best kept secret. Get here!

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