Sun-drenched, sentimental car journeys blasting mixtapes (OK, bluetoothed Spotify)—it’s the stuff that summer dreams are made of. Unless you live carless in the inner-city, with all your vacation days used up and a relentless throb for your couch come 6 p.m. You’re in dire need of some escapism and it appears there’s nothing else for it: It’s time for another Binge Session.
Pop on some vinyl, abandon the couch and get comfortable on that shag pile carpet. Cast your mind back: How many of your musical memories, as they flicker through your memory like silent movie daguerreotypes, were unaccompanied by booze? Along with those shapeshifting first live concerts, it was probably video rental nights and sleepovers punctuated by coming-of-age dramas—looking at you, Almost Famous—that inspired you to get a fake ID and learn guitar. Both of which ended in varying degrees of success, but were fully informed by your musical heroes, especially those immortalised on-screen in fictional accounts, documentaries or biopics.
I admit that most of these pairings come armed with a robust disclaimer in regard to their subject’s notorious substance abuse problem, so limit this binge session to not more than a sixer out of respect for the sober or no longer with us.
Beer: Blue Moon Brewing Co.’s Belgian White
Kate Hudson is luminous groupie extraordinaire Penny Lane, self-titled "Band Aid" to the 70s stars who take her and an underage burgeoning music journo called William cross-country on whiskey-filled buses and dodgy private jets as they tour the States. Toast your inner-groupie (we’ve all been there), inner-Rolling Stone correspondent (music journalism isn’t what it used to be, just warning you) or perhaps, most naturally, your raging inner-rock goddess with a flurry of chilled ones whilst you enjoy this amazing cult rock-romance adventure. Old school rock stars liked to know what they’re getting and that’s why they send their security scouts out to escort the hottest baes from the crowd to the afterparty. Oh, and it’s also why the rider exists. After Fiji water—which inevitably is left untouched under sweaty towels and ashtrays—there’s usually a request for a watery lager that can be used to ply eager fans and worn roadies alike. Your Almost Famous beer must be available universally and the alcohol percentage low enough to be able to drink for a good 12-hour bender without risk of losing your head completely and throwing a TV out of a hotel window. Go for a Blue Moon with a slice of orange, for the vitamin C you need on tour.
A Hard Day’s Night
Beer: Newcastle Brown Ale
A friend of mine once delighted in telling me one of the screaming girls halfway through a particular Beatles documentary was his mum in the 1960s. It seems like these hardcore Beatlemaniacs deep in the throes of Beatlemania could have done with a strong beer to temper their nerves. Anyone can relate to needing a jar after a long, hard day of slog; whether that’s being chased around exotic foreign cities or sitting clocking data in your office cubicle. Even if you’re trapped in a hotel room like the Fab Four, avoid the mini-bar lagers at all costs. There’s no way in hell I’d be let off alive if a Geordie heard me comparing Newcastle to Liverpool, but if you’re gonna have a tipple from the north of England, this is the one. Its coffee and brown sugar accent is as thick as the Beatles’. It’s not vegan-certified, though, so maybe not one for McCartney.
Beer: Cloudwater Brew Co.’s DDH Pale Centennial Enigma
We’re still up in the north of England, for two reasons. No one parties with the same air of cool as a British musician, and Manchester is where it all kicked off with the Hacienda and Factory Records (for this actual story, see 24 Hour Party People). But it’s music photographer-turned-art-biopic-filmmaker Anton Corbijn’s Control that you need to save for this Binge Session. At the center is Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, in all his frenetic, fantastic, tragic glory and played impeccably by Sam Riley. The soundtrack alone will make you wanna drink and dance in the rainy streets of Manchester where, if visiting, you’ll find a wealth of decent but unpretentious craft beer joints. Internationally imported Cloudwater has instantly recognisable artwork: Dainty, precise, intricate on some brews and sparse on others. Ever in touch with his feminine side and a sharp style aesthetic—and proudly Mancunian—Curtis would have loved DDH Pale Centennial Enigma, and so will you. It’s a delicate pale ale with pleasant notes that will not tear you apart.
La Vie En Rose
Beer: Brasserie La Choulette’s La Choulette Blonde
Translated to “Life in Pink,” meaning life under pink hues—or rose-tinted glasses—this is an incredible story of defiance and romance in the face of adversity. And let’s be real, everything including our cheeks is a little rosier after an evening jar. You might think it’s uncouth to recommend a pairing for the story of musical renegade Edith Piaf who was also a raging boozer—but god knows she knew how to have fun and where to find the best taps. This is both a heavy and beautiful watch—the dramatic highs and lows of the unmatched French songress, played by the enigmatic Marion Cotillard, nicknamed “The Sparrow,” as she warbles and cries through the streets of Paris. She is woman, hear her roar. Enjoy a fantastically elegant and outlandish blond over an equally elegant—and, of course, French—Bière de Garde La Choulette Blonde. Expect to cry, so hydrate too.
Beer: Detroit Beer Co.’s Local 1529 IPA
Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
If you didn’t see 8 Mile when it came out, honestly, were you living under a rock? A buddy and I recently discussed this as our joint chosen movie to inspire ambition when we’re feeling down and out and so—paired with fine Michigan refreshment—you’re bound to lose yourself in the music and the moment. Fresh as Mathers’ early rhymes and straight from Detroit Brew Co.’s Local 1529 IPA is a neighbourhood favourite: Copper and served unfiltered in the American Micro tradition with extensive hoppiness backed by lots of sweet malt. Should your marathon drift into TV territory, don’t miss last summer’s four-part HBO series charting the complex Compton relationship between Jimmy Iovine and Marshall’s old comrade Dr Dre in The Defiant Ones.