Mike Derks knows his crowd.
The GWAR guitarist and managing partner/executive chef of the metal band's restaurant, GWARbar, wanted an accessible beer that would appeal to the band’s slavish fans (or as they call themselves, “bohabs”).
GWARBlood — the name of the resulting beer — is awesomely awful, but what else would you expect to be served while seated on the blood-spattered floors of the Jackson Ward restaurant? It’s here you’ll find the hoppy stuff, in addition to the taproom at Strangeways: the brewery producing the collaboration.
The beer’s origin has no dead babies or goats (thankfully) — just a simple conversation between a few metalheads. Dave Witte, drummer for the internationally popular local band Municipal Waste, suggested Derks seek a partnership with Mike Hiller, head brewer at Strangeways Brewing. Derks wanted to collaborate with a local brewery for his new bar and Strangeways seemed like a perfect match; it was, after all, a year-and-half-old brewery known for its off-the-wall beers like Gourd of Thunder, born out of pumpkins “that were ripened on the vine while continuously listening to heavy metal.”
“ I think (Witte) suggested us because we’re all metal freaks here,” Hiller says. “And we have a reputation for brewing some strange-ish beer. It was a definite fit.”
Collaborating with Derks took only a few weeks; he had a precise vision of what he wanted and shared it with Hiller by phone between GWAR tour stops. It would be something easy and balanced that would compliment another GWAR-specific beer, Killsner, made for the band at Cigar City in Florida for the 5th Annual GWAR B-Q in 2014.
The resulting beer is an in-your-face hoppy pale ale with a reddish hue. A combination of Centennial, Cascade and Pacific Gem hops, the beer is spicy and light and intended to appeal to a mostly Pabst Blue Ribbon crowd, Derk explains. The color is the result of a red malt, Red X, that gives the beverage its appropriately bloody tinge.
“ Brewing for GWAR has been surreal and one of the coolest things I have done thus far,” Hiller says. “I couldn’t believe Derks was calling me from the road. It was seriously cool to see how serious he is.”
GWARBlood is available at GWARbar for $6 per pint and at Strangeways for $5 per 13 -ounce “Goblet”; $8 per “Grunt” or “Can-able”; and $15 per growler.