Aurum collaborates with death metal band Godless to bring out a beer that messes with your head.
Author: Ganesh Vancheeswaran
The assault is sudden and lethal. One minute, I am speaking to Ram, a friend, about the indie music scene in India, and the next minute, I just can’t hear him anymore. My ears feel blanked out. It takes me a moment to realise that the room has been suddenly swamped by sound waves. Sound waves coming from the speakers placed in one part of the room and filling the room like so many locusts. Looking around, I can see that the rest of the people in the room are similarly affected. They have a dazed look, and their eyes seem to have suddenly glazed over.
From then on, there is no let-up in the assault for the next half hour or so. To put it briefly, we are pummelled into submission by the music.
We are at an exclusive, pre-release listening session. Godless, the death metal band from India, are unleashing their latest album — and their first LP — on us unsuspecting souls, prior to its official launch on November 19. Titled States of Chaos, it features tracks in their signature death-meets-thrash-meets-rage style of music. And, to mark the occasion, the band has collaborated with Bangalore-based craft brewery Aurum to bring out a dark, strong Belgian ale, which too is being launched today. Aptly, the folks have named the beer after one of the tracks in this album — Netherworld. And man, this brew does take you to the depths!
Godless’ songs deal with themes that make the band members uncomfortable; issues they think are wrong with life and society, and must be questioned. Like overpopulation. Abbas Rizvi, bass guitarist of the band, tells me, “Our music is loud, chaotic, death-and-thrash metal types. Many of our songs portray a dystopian scenario.” The idea is to needle the listener into thinking about these issues and, if possible, changing their behaviour. Netherworld, the song, talks about someone who has lost their grip on reality and sanity, and has to reconcile themselves to this.
Netherworld, the beer, on the other hand, is a hat-tip to the Trappist monks of the Saint-Sixtus Abbey in the West Flanders province of Belgium, who have, for nearly two centuries, been brewing some of the best beers in the world. Abbas tells me, “On a tour of Europe, we managed to snag a few pints of the Westvleteren 12, made by the monks of this abbey. And we were blown! So, when we were thinking of collab-brewing a beer with Aurum to make to mark the launch of this album, we thought of paying our tribute to this legendary beer.”
George Jacob, head brewer at Aurum, says, “I’ve known this band for a long time; we are drinking buddies. Like me, they too are beer lovers. So, when they told me they were launching States of Chaos, they wondered if we could bring out a beer to mark the occasion. A beer that mirrored their music style and was also a tribute to the Westvleteren. We decided to launch the beer here, today.”
The Trappist Westvleteren is brewed by monks only within the walls of Saint-Sixtus Abbey. And it can be bought only through the brewery’s online store. Those who want to collect their bottles in person have to do so only from the abbey — there is no other physical sale outlet. There is a home delivery service, but it is on a small scale and is restricted to registered customers based in Belgium. The rich history of these beers, the fact that there is a waiting period for them and the rationing of sale quantities by the abbey, have all helped the Westvleteren aura grow over time. The beer is available in wooden crates of 24 bottles each, and in packages of 6 bottles each. The Westvleteren range features just three beers: Blond, 8 and 12. The brewery claims that the unique taste and aroma of the brews has a lot to do with the fact that they are unfiltered and have not been pasteurised. Secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle itself.
Never have stats been more misleading. At face value, an ABV of 8% and an IBU of 23 don’t seem all that dangerous. But send a couple of pints of Netherworld down your hatch, and it does something to you. It messes with you. In a good, addictive way, of course. The heroes of this concoction are dark malt and abbey-type Belgian yeast. George says, “It has hardly any hops, to allow for the yeast and malt to stand out.” On the nose and tongue, I can sense a lot of dark fruit, like raisins, plums and fig. There is a hint of caramel and jaggery, too. A couple of fellow-drinkers say they got a faint hit of bubble gum, but I didn’t get any of that. What I did get, however, was a very faint syrupy feel as the beer touched my palate — or maybe, the growling music had hit me by then and I was just imagining the syrupy feel.
At first, it took me a few sips to make any sense out of the drink. But once I got into the groove, I started enjoying its refreshing mouthfeel and medium body. The sting is really in its tail: it finishes dry and light, making you want to drink just a little more. And a little more. And maybe, just a little more. By the time you are into your third pint, the death metal and sludge and rage will all be in your head.
Chetan and George at Aurum deserve applause for coming up with this fabulously complex clanger of a Belgian ale that speaks to the godless in every beer lover. And, as for the band itself, they have a winner in States of Chaos. Here’s wishing them well for the album and for their forthcoming tours in India and abroad!
Photos: Godless (band photos) / Ramakrishnan Krishnan, aka Bantering Ram (beer) / Aurum Brewworks, Bangalore (poster)