A Pilsner is the Gothenburg Metal of Beers

Reasoning: Both got their start in a single city, Plzeň and Göteborg, respectively, which lead to a signature taste/sound. This popularity spawned derivative acts across the pond in the form of mass-produced pale lagers and metalcore.

Beer style description: It’s a pale lager brewed with noble hops
Metal subgenre description: It’s now known by the more general term “melodic death metal,” and that’s pretty much what it sounds like.

Representative brews:
Victory Prima Pils is the only American-made pils you should drink. It may be the only pils you should drink, period.
Pilsner Urquell, the original pilsner. But only on draft. They put that shit in a green bottle! Apparently the brewers don’t care about photochemistry and skunking. Fuck them.

Representative bands/albums:
In Flames — The Jester Race
At the Gates — The Red in the Sky is Ours
Dark Tranquility — Skydancer

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Heavymetalbirder is BACK \m/

It’s spring, and the Palm Warblers are in the house!

It has been a long time — and a long winding road — between updates here at Heavymetalbirder. We certainly haven’t stopped making (or drinking) beer, nor have we stopped listening to metal.

Birding was another story. The two bastard fools behind HMB live in Bushwick, Brooklyn. If you read the NY Times, you’ll come away with the impression that Bushwick is some manner of Hipster Valhalla, where transcendent hep shit happens to people, involuntarily, all the time.

That’s only partly true.

For our purposes, it’s important to remember that 1) most of Bushwick burned to the ground during the 1977 riot and 2) in the 21st century, it’s a chaotic mix of swiftly (and cheaply) constructed residential buildings and light industry. That’s great for for people who love graffiti (we have some seriously kick-ass graffiti out here), but terrible for people who want to look at birds. Because there is just not much in the way of habitat.

So what changed? We got a car.

Now we can cavort off to New Jersey to see shorebirds, or idly bomb down to Prospect Park or Green-Wood Cemetery or Floyd Bennett Field, without having to plan our entire day around public transit. As much as it pains me to say this: it’s the Best. Thing. Ever.

So expect more updates (plus some backdated updates from our journeys to Florida, North Carolina, Vermont, and points beyond) for glorious tales of birds, beers, and blastbeats.

From Sunday’s birding trip:
Green-Wood Cemetery, Kings, US-NY
Apr 11, 2015 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
39 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 4
Mallard 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Egret 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
gull sp. 3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) X
Mourning Dove X
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 5
Monk Parakeet 5
Eastern Phoebe 2
Blue Jay 4
Tree Swallow 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin X
Brown Thrasher 1
Northern Mockingbird 3
European Starling X
Palm Warbler 4
Pine Warbler 7
Chipping Sparrow X
Fox Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 3
Swamp Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Rusty Blackbird 2
Common Grackle 5
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
House Sparrow X

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Hellbent for Cooking — Pork of Disease!

A couple of years ago, I received Hellbent For Cooking as a Christmas present.

A brief description may be in order. Annick Giroux, vocalist for Cauchemar and general metalhead extraordinaire, contacted a bunch of metal bands across the world asking for their favorite recipes, then published the collection in a book. It covers the gamut — apps through dessert through drinks, and a huge range of cuisines make an appearance.

Since I don’t get to bird much these days — new job + incredibly bad winter + neighborhood more suited to corpse-watching than bird-watching — I figured I could attempt to make all of the recipes in the book and post about that. One day, I’ll be able to buy a car and drive to where the birds are. But until then, I gotta make do.

Tonight, we started with a recipe from Chilean epic-doom band, Procession. The recipe is called Pork of Disease (Citrus Style), and is basically a beer-and-citrus-and-spice marinated pork loin. Since the beer we make is way hoppier than the pilsners one can buy in Chile, we snagged ourselves a can of Coors Banquet Beer (made famous by Smokey and the Bandit) and used that. Basically, mix in a bowl 24 oz. of decent lager, the juice of 8 lemons, some cayenne, salt, oregano, and pepper. Slice the loin and bathe that virgin flesh in your hellbroth for a few hours. Bake at 350F. Eat. Our meat came out a little dry, so I suggest either adding some oil to the marinade, or cover the meat and bake for only 20 minutes or so.

Serve with the most Satanic vegetables you can find. We hell-roasted some red potatoes and flame-kissed some spinach and garlic, but really any sides will pair with this nicely.

The recipe also calls for listening to Pagan Altar while roasting the virgin and praising Satan, but we decided watching the England cricket side play the West Indies was sufficiently doomstruck to qualify. The gods know they are a sadistic bunch of bastards anyway.

Recipe as written, out of five \m/:
5 Horns on the entertainment scale
5 Horns for the marinade
2 Horns for the procedure, since our pig ended up a little dry.

Would eat again:
5 Horns

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Book Review – The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beers

A few years back, I went to a Meet the Brewer event at Beer Table featuring Pretty Things, one of my favorite brewers. The special surprise they had for us was the somewhat cryptically titled “November 15th, 1901 KK”, the second brew in their Once Upon A Time series of historical beers. It was black without even the slightest hint of roast character and packed with a ton of English hops, suggesting that the Brits did the whole “Black IPA” thing a century before anyone over on this side of the Atlantic (and did so without throwing such a divisive name on the beer). The story behind the beer, which can be found in more detail at Old Beers, is that Pretty Things collaborated with a part-time British beer historian to brew recipes directly from historical brewing logs. The historian in question is an Englishman dwelling in Amsterdam by the name of Ron Pattinson. He runs a blog called Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, which not only holds a wealth of historical beer information and recipes, it is also an opportunity to see a historian working in real time. Many of the posts feature part or all of an original document coupled with Ron’s explanations and interpretations of that document.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer by Ron Pattinson

Recently, Ron published The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer. The book begins with an overview of historical ingredients and the challenges these create for modern brewers looking to recreate these beers. For example, the specialty brown malt of today is very different than the brown malt that served as a base malt in the 19th century–a major obstacle to anyone wishing to exactly recreate almost any porter (or stout) recipe in the book. Hops present another challenge, as the majority of the recipes predate the quantification of alpha acids in hops and bitterness in beer.

The bulk of this book is a collection of recipes dating from 1800 to 1965 organized more or less by style, with a brief historical exposition presented before each section’s recipes. Regular readers of Pattinson’s blog will be familiar with many of the stories and themes (IPA was not a strong beer, popular accounts of Scottish brewing traditions are nonsense, etc.), but one of the highlights of this books is seeing all of this information collected and edited into a chronological narrative. Yes, some of the details like advertisements and gravity tables are omitted, but those are still available back on the blog. Despite the editing, Pattinson’s personality comes through in the writing, as does his enthusiasm for the subject.

The recipes are scaled to fit the typical 5-gallon homebrew batch, and typically include simplified mash and boil schemes, for those who don’t wish to do, say, two mashes, three sparges, and a four-hour boil. Each recipe has a brief set of notes attached which typically highlight the historical significance of the beer, unusual ingredients, and modern modifications.

1832 Truman XXXX Mild

An example of the recipe format for the book, with grains, hops, gravity, ABV, IBM, SRM, and mash info.

The recipes are all-grain, which makes the book more appropriate for experienced brewers, and knowing how to adapt recipes to your system is essential. As the title suggests, the book is written primarily for homebrewers, though I imagine anyone interested in the history of British beers can gain something from a read. The recipes tell an interesting story on their own to those who can parse abbreviations such as OG, FG, and IBU, and Pattinson provides a healthy dose of supporting context. For me, one of the highlights of the recipes is to see what a diverse range of beers British brewers were able to produce with a limited range of ingredients – nearly all of the 19th century recipes, outside of porter and stout, are built from pale malt and Goldings hops.

We recently had a party at our apartment where we served beers we made from 1830’s recipes, two of which are in this book. I have another two lined up for brewing in the coming weeks. I recommend this book primarily to anyone looking to brew examples of the ancestors of today’s beers, and secondly to curious folks looking to learn a different side of history. The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer is published by Quarry Books and is available in spiral-bound or Kindle editions.

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Well Looky Here, My Favorite Albums of 2013

As I’ve said in the past — I don’t claim that these were the best albums. They’re just the ones I listened to the most, or which affected me the most profoundly in the last calendar year. Subgenres are given in parentheses, although this is just a very general guide.

Full-length or EPs (in no particular order)

Morgengrau — Extrinsic Pathways (Death)
Satan — Life Sentence (NWOBHM)
Attacker — Giants of Canaan (Heavy/Epic/US Power)
Enforcer — Death By Fire (Speed)
Carcass — Surgical Steel (Death)
Cultes des Ghoules — Henbane (Black)
Bolzer — Aura (Death)
House of Atreus — Into the Brazen Bull (Death)
Magister Templi — Lucifer Leviathan Logos (Heavy/Doom)
Zemial — Nykta (Black)
Grave Miasma — Odori Sepulcrorum (Death)
Oranssi Pazuzu — Valonielu (Progressive/Black/Epic)
Portal — Vexovoid (Death)
Sacriphyx — The Western Front (Death)
Beyond — Fatal Power of Death (Death)

Demos (no particular order)

Mold — Cremated Alive (demo) (Death)
Ranger — Combat Metal (demo) (Speed)
Arnaut Pavle — Demo 2013 (Black)
Trenchrot — Dragged Down To Hell (demo) (Death)
Possession — His Best Deceit (demo) (Death)
Beastiality — Ancient Bell Chimes (demo) (Death)
Eternal Champion — Last King of Pictdom (demo) (Epic/Heavy)

Non-Metal Albums (no particular order)

Wardruna — Runaljod: Yggdrasil (Folk/Ambient)
Beastmilk — Climax (post-punk — think mid-80s Cure + Joy Division + Chameleons)
Nails — Abandon All Life (Brutal metallic hardcore/Grindcore)
Dead Lord — Goodbye Repentence (Hard rock)

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Holiday Cheer

We’re kicking it in the wilds of New Hampshire for the holiday season, but headed back tomorrow. Typical winter birding (most activity is near feeders), with the stalwarts one expects:

hairy woodpecker
downy woodpecker
black-capped chickadee \m/
dark-eyed junco (slate colored)
red-breasted nuthatch
white-breasted nuthatch
tufted titmouse
blue jay
northern flicker (only heard, not seen)
red tail hawk
terrorist goose

I was hoping to see a common redpoll or some of the other species that we don’t get in NYC, but no dice. But it’s refreshing to see birds again — Bushwick has many things to recommend itself, but easy birding ain’t one of them.

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And My Favorite Music from 2012

Before culling, I had something like 430 separate bands (not even just EPs or albums) in my 2012 releases list. I narrowed that down to these as my favorites of the year. I didn’t bother with a top 10 because I am lazy.

Aksumite — Prideless Lions
Aura Noir — Out To Die
Behexen — Nightside Emanations
Charon — Sulphur Seraph
Christian Mistress — Possession
Dawnbringer — Into the Lair of the Sun God
Dead Can Dance — Anastasis
Dephosphorous — Night Sky Transform
Faustcoven — Hellfire and Funeral Bells
Hades Archer — The Curse Over Mankind
Horrendous — The Chills
Indesinence — Vessels of Light and Decay
MGLA — With Hearts Toward None
Mok — Mokamorphosis
Pseudogod — Deathwomb Catechesis
Satan’s Satyrs — Wild Beyond Belief!
Svartidauti — Flesh Cathedral
Wormlust — Collective
Zuul — To The Frontlines!

Agatus – Gilgamesh 7″
Antediluvian/Adversarial — Initiated in Impieties as Mysteries split 12″
Antimelodix — Hellfuck EP
Funebrarum/Undergang — The Dead of Winter split 7″
Genocide Shrines — Devanation Monumentemples EP
Impious Baptism — Path of the Inverted Trinity 7″
Innsmouth/Mongrel’s Cross — split 7″
Ohmwar — 5 Song, 11 Minute EP 7″
Ravens Creed — Nestless and Wild 7″ EP
Thevetat — demo CD

Still TBD (late arrivals)
Nechochwen — O+O
Hatespawn — Blasphemous Redeemer 2012 demo
Blood of the Black Owl — Light The Fires!
Imprecation — Jehovah Denied demo
Oath of Cruelty — Altar of Impalement
Verraeter — demo

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Wow, Now That’s Some Serious Neglect

Looking at the timestamp of the last entry on this blog, it’s clear that we haven’t posted in awhile. It’s funny, because the last time we updated was right around the time when we found out we had to move. Our landlords were raising the rent on our place, and we didn’t feel comfortable paying what they were asking. This sparked one of the least-pleasant aspects of living in NYC: apartment hunting. Every night, trawling Craigslist. Every weekend, walking into realtor’s offices and seeing shithole after shithole, for which these people had the temerity to ask for a huge chunk of change every month. It’s grueling, depressing, and thoroughly soul-destroying.

After weeks of not finding anything worthwhile in our neighborhood (which we wanted to stay in because of close proximity to Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery), we started looking farther afield. And we eventually moved into the neighborhood I least expected us to move into: Bushwick. Bushwick has a shitty reputation: it was a crime-infested pesthole for much of the 1970s through the late 1990s. Then the hipsters moved in and now it balances between a crime-troubled neighborhood and a hipster-infested pesthole with some bright spots sprinkled throughout. We like living in Bushwick, all things considered.

We moved in June and have spent the past few months getting settled, figuring shit out, and learning new routines. It is difficult to go birding here, though. Transportation to Prospect Park is kinda crap from this part of Brooklyn, and the Ridgewood reservoir is not yet open. So, not much city birding lately. We finally figured out the various quirks of the kitchen and have successfully brewed some beers, which we will eventually write about. There’s a used record store a couple of blocks away, and we’re near metal venues, so we’ve been going out to shows more often.

Anyway, I’ll follow up this post with my Favorite Music of 2012. I wish everyone an excellent holiday season filled with booze, birds and blastbeats.

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Metal Bookends

Let’s face it, the work week is generally a five-stage-run of tedium. But this week, Doug and I were fortunate enough to have two concerts to keep the will to live fresh. Monday night we saw local band Villains (“Never abandon the slut train.”) open up for Chicago heavy metal killahs Superchrist. The show was unfortunately sparsely attended, which is a got-damned shame. Do yourself a favor and check out both of these bands.

Friday, Doug opted to stay home, but I went back to St. Vitus to see one of my favorite black metal bands: Inquisition. This is the third time I’ve seen them (although I didn’t see much of their set at RODIII), and these guys simply do not disappoint. I was in the front, just to the left of Dagon’s mic, and it made everything 100x more intense. Which kind of boggles my mind, because Inquisition shows are ALWAYS intense. They played a bunch of my favorite songs, including Desolate Funeral Chant.

Next Friday is another KILLER show: Autopsy, Funebrarum, Unearthly Trance and Undergang. Those who read my MDF report from last year will remember that Doug and I got to meet two of the guys from Funebrarum, and they are top-notch humans. I’m really looking forward to this show as sort-of the prelude to MDF X. It’s gonna crush.

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Airlock Adventures

I took a look in the fermentation chamber (aka the bedroom closet) today to see how the Belgian strong dark ale was doing and was pleased to see that fermentation had taken off quite vigorously. Perhaps a touch too vigorously, as there was a steady stream of bubbles coming out the airlock and most of the sanitizer had been pushed out. I tried adding a little more sanitizer to the airlock and watched as it all bubbled right out the top.


I thought that was amusing and only mildly alarming, until I took a look after dinner and noticed that krauzen had made its way up through the airlock and out onto the lid of the fermentation bucket. Not quite as amusing, and a bit more alarming.

The things that look like dress shirts near the top left and top right corners of the photo? Those are the shirts I wear to work. Surprisingly few people complain that I smell like beer.

Anyway, rather than risk the airlock being forcibly ejected from the top of the bucket with an accompanying spray of yeast and foam, I decided to opt for a blowoff tube. For the moment, there is peace in the bedroom closet.

The growler is from Shawnee Craft Brewing, who make excellent beers.

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