Song Shot: Duo Denim “Purple Drank” with Ninkasi Brewing ReNEWale 2012

Image via Duo Denim’s Bandcamp

Looking at the bottle of Renewale with the melting snow around the borders and reading the back description of how it is suppose to be “Something new and special to enjoy while winter runs its course” made me think about Winter a bit and the coming (well, passing now) of the New Year. It’s about trying new things, right? So I decided to randomly look up Oregon musicians on Bandcamp (I hope you are noticing a theme on this blog now) since that is where Ninkasi Brewing is located, and started listening to each one. I couldn’t nail down what Renewale ‘tasted’ like. Is it indie folk? No, too rich for that. Does it taste like lo-fi? No, more complex. Sometimes the more you try to figure something out and categorize it the less likely you will ever find what you truly looking for. Here I am, scrolling down and down and down, listening to Nigerian folk songs, to bedroom project singles, and I finally I click on something called “Purple Drank” by Duo Denim, because why not.

It was exactly what I needed to hear while drinking this beer. You might have thought I have all these pairings in my mind weeks beforehand. Nope,. I’m slightly eccentric and I’ve come to accept that and if I planned that far in advance by the time this post went up I would already be disagreeing the song with the beer or vice versa. I think that is what is most exciting to me about Volume by Alcohol, the search for the unknown. Do I hear a song and instantly know what drink will pair with it? No, nor is the reverse true but the fun is in the actual searching.

“Purple Drank” makes me close my eyes and envision the melting snow off the beer bottle and what type of Winter wonderland is slowly melting away in some far away place. The piano keys tinkering away has this enchanting feel about them. The piano melody sets a mood similar to how the inside of a snowglobe must feel after it’s been turned upside-down and all snowflakes are slowly back down. The cymbals crashes start chiming in and help build the momentum of the song while building the hip-hop base to “Purple Drank”. The synth starts in with an almost robotic sound but still flows with the airy piano. It’s a hard rock ambient song if there ever was one. The song is a little over two minutes long but at the very end the keys slow down and matches up perfectly with that last snowflake.

Duo Denim is a duo based out of Portland, Oregon and are not easily categorized. They blend together keys and drums and add in some electronic backbeats for a full-on instrumental sound. It’s an odd pairing on paper but Duo Denim definitely make it work and own the sound. The duo is a little indie rock, a little hip-hop, and then they throw in some jazz, funk, and math rock in. Because they are Duo Denim, and they can. Both Drew Shoals and Ben Darwish have been in other area bands (Tony Furtado, Ben Darwish Trio, Dan Balmer, and others) but it seems that they have found their niche. While the group only has one EP released, Heat Rocks (Vol. 1),it has been receiving phenomenal reviews around Oregon and it’s about time the rest of the world found it. Here’s to hoping Duo Denim come out with a full-length this year and get to tour. If you enjoy this post and their music please go to the Bandcamp page and click the “Buy Now” and you can name your own price, which it is honestly worth at least $2 considering how many times you’ll play it.

Ninkasi ReNEWale 2012

Beer: ReNEWale 2012

Brewery: Ninkasi 

Style: Porter

ABV: 5.9%

“Bittersweet chocolate aroma and flavors accentuate this dark, rich ale” is one of the many quotes on the back of the Renewale bottle. Ninkasi Brewing (Oregon) started their Winter seasonal beer many years ago and change up the recipe annually so no two years are ever the same. This could be a good thing but also a bad thing if you loved one specific year’s, which is my case for 2012. The beer pours dark like most porters but this one has a lighter head, not a deep caramel-y head that you sometimes find. I will say that Renewale smells delicious.

Renewale starts out slightly roasty and bitter, then switches to a sweet after taste. There wasn’t a huge coffee flavor in this, which is surprising since most Porters have a strong coffee flavor profile. Instead the beer tastes like someone made a Dr. Pepper beer. Dark and raisin-like flavors with a touch of carbonation and that tangy sweet kick at the end. Yup, this is the Dr. Pepper of beer. I cannot verify if Renewale has 23 different flavors but I can tell you it is delicious. It’s complexity mimics Duo Denim, while there are only two members of the band they deliver a one-two punch of sounds that make you forget only two people are making every note. Another parallel between the band and the brew is the comment “dark and rich.” The song “Purple Drank” has a beautiful yet haunting way about it with the rich drumbeats bring the song to a whole new level. Renewale is dark with the porter qualities and rich with the several layers of flavors on your tongue. It bounces from bitter to chocolate to syrupy to tart to sweet in just seconds. I highly enjoyed this beer and am sad to know that next year Renewale will be completely different.


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