Canada’s Award-winning Brewer Jerry Vietz Riffs on His Collaboration with a Rock Star
D.L. What was it like to work with musician Dave Mustaine?
J.V. Working with Dave on the Megadeth Beer has been great. He and I are very similar in our thinking. Dave cares about quality, as is apparent from his music. He also realizes that brewing is an art form, and we have a mutual respect for each other.
D.L. A Tout Le Monde is a Belgian-style dry-hopped saison with an ABV of 4.5%. What inspired you to make a beer completely different from anything Unibroue has done before?
J.V. Although our beers are well balanced, they are considered strong. They are very smooth and drink like beers with much lower ABVs. I attend a lot of concerts, and I see people drinking so much so quickly, they are falling down by the third song. Imagine if they were drinking one of Unibroue’s 8-10% beers. I wanted to offer a beer that would give the same drinking experience, but with a much lower ABV. A Tout Le Monde is light, but has the same complexity and level of quality as one of Unibroue’s traditional beers. A lot of people will discover Unibroue through A Tout Le Monde and I want to take their taste buds to a new place with this saison. I hope from there they will try our other beers. I may even release another, higher ABV version of A Tout Le Monde sometime in the future.
D.L. Have you worked with bands/musicians in the past? If so, was it successful?
J.V. I have worked with a lot of artists over the years, and am a big supporter of the Montreal Blues Society. The music scene in Quebec is very close knit, and I have an affinity for musicians here. I often co-host events with musicians, such as Steve Strongman, an award-winning singer/songwriter from Ontario, and The Paul Deslaurier’s Band, who recently reached #1 on the USA Blues Chart. These events are a great opportunity for both the musicians and the brewery. People who have never tried our beers, but are fans of the music, get a chance to taste what Unibroue has to offer, and the bands are able to reach a new group of people who come out to taste the beers.
D.L. What are the similarities between making good music and brewing good beer?
J.V. Brewing, like music, is an art. For me, creating a new beer is very similar to a musician writing an album. It takes an enormous amount of patience and attention to detail. I strive for perfection every time and, like with music, perfection is something that is very rarely achieved. However, I try to get as close to it as possible with each new release. I really believe in quality over quantity. A lot of artists seem to be coming out with a new album every couple of months, which is similar to the rate that many craft breweries are releasing a new beer. But brewing a quality beer, like making a great album, takes time. It takes 6 to 18 months for me to develop and release a new beer for Unibroue, and while that might seem long, the results speak for themselves when you taste our beer. I brew with my heart and each beer is an expression of myself. This is, I hope, what comes across when people try our beer.
D.L. There have been studies that say the type of music people listen to can affect what they like to eat and drink. What is your take on that?
J.V. I love this question. I very much believe that music affects mood. Sensory memory is incredibly powerful. Some songs I hear make me think of certain seasons, and visa-versa. When I smell flowers in the spring, certain songs come to mind. This relates to beer as well, as the taste of some beers remind me of specific times in my life. This is not surprising, since all of our senses are so closely related. I want people to think of our beers when they feel a certain emotion, just as they think of a particular album or song.
D.L. Speaking of particular albums, is there a specific type of music you like to listen to when working on a new beer?
J.V. Well, when I brewed at home, I listened to different styles of music, depending on what kind of beer I was working on. Now at the brewery, it really depends on the project. Of course I listened to Dave Mustaine/Megadeth throughout the making of A Tout Le Monde. Because of this, Megadeth’s sound became part of the beer.
D.L. If you could pick any musician, living or dead, to collaborate with on a beer, who would it be?
J.V. Well, This is a difficult question. I am a huge fan of so many musicians, but that does not mean a collaboration with them would be successful. To work together and create, there must be a similar way of thinking, as well as mutual respect. In the beginning, there must be a common point – something to build from. Collaborating is not one person saying, “I want this” or “do this.” A true collaboration means working together from start to finish, with full commitment on both ends. No matter who it is, if you can find a common bond and build something together, the end result will be something neither person could do alone.
D.L. What can we expect to see from you in the future?
J.V. I’m going to keep listening to, and taking energy from, good music. And I’m going to keep on brewing good beers.