I once bought a Slayer album over twenty years ago back when I was in college. All I could remember about it was a bunch of really fast guitars nearly drowning out some guy yelling about a of bunch of people dying in particularly grisly detail. Metal bands have created some pretty compelling art about universal themes of fear, anger, frustration, and alienation, but I just found all that noise about countless gruesome deaths to be of all things, incredibly boring. I returned the record to the store in exchange for something else.
I certainly understand this personal anecdotal snippet from many years ago is no way to judge a band that’s been together for nearly 30 years, but I still consider Slayer to be an interesting cultural curiosity I just don’t get. But any band that’s been together that long, has achieved status as one of the Big Four of Thrash Metal, and has millions of fans, including critical acclaimed classical violinist Rachel Burton Pine, must be doing a lot of things right. Like being the unlikely inspiration for an excellent Dark Double Alt beer released for the holidays by Ninkasi Brewing.
The beer itself pours a very dark brown, nearly black. As one might expect from its appearance, the first thing that hits you on the tongue is a heavily roasted, slightly smokey malt goodness which is surprisingly smooth and drinkable, despite all that heavy roasting and strong flavors. Then the banana-like esters kick in, solidly asserting themselves just before the a light clove-like aromatic spicy finish. It makes for an easy drinking sipping beer, or a beer that would pair quite well with a lot of strong wintery holiday foods like roasted beef, pork or smoked turkey.
Speaking of the holidays, not only has Slayer inspired a holiday beer, it’s also inspired an entire Christmas light show someone created for their Southern California neighborhood my beer blogging buddy Peter Estaniel recently brought to my attention. Make sure you don’t miss the flashing Christmas presents next to the electric flowing river of blood.
Perhaps the message here is that holiday good will can come from unlikely places. Maybe we’d have a lot fewer rivers of blood in this world if we did more to accept, seek out and welcome those who might seem strange and out of place, understanding it’s these differences which make our world a great place to live. OK, it’s a bit of sappy message, but I thought it would seem a lot less sappy cloaked in beer and thrash metal, so just work with me here.
Have a very Sleigh’r Holiday!