More than just a beer, Aeronaut's small batch T.R.I.P. also happens to be an artifact of the Boston music scene. By buying the beer, you’ll receive top secret instructions for retrieving the newest album from local band The Lights Out– conveniently printed on the label.
“The beer is the unique delivery vessel launching this album out of a recording studio and into the world,” says Adam Ritchie, guitarist for The Lights Out. “Think of it like the Titan-Centaur rocket that boosted Voyager 1 and 2. The Titan gave Voyager escape velocity to fly into the universe, carrying its golden record.”
This space-meets-reality imagery is more than a pretty analogy; it’s the theme of the album. The fourth full-length record from the hyper-creative Lights Out, T.R.I.P. fuses pandimensional travel imagery with multiverse theory, creating what Ritchie calls a “soundtrack to your journey between realities.”
As you would expect from a beer tasked with carrying such an album into our own 'verse, the themes carry over into the brew itself. “A project like this required the creative conceptualization, design and construction of new kind of beer, which would be adequately powerful in flavor and aroma to awe the senses even as they were overwhelmed by the certain rigors of traveling between universes,” Ben Holmes, Co-founder of Aeronaut, says.
And Aeronaut's immaculate attention to detail is evidenced from the first moment you pick up the can. Designed by the über-talented Raul Gonzalez, illustrator of all of Aeronauts beer cans, the label touts the brew's “intergalactic hops,” which believe it or not, is more than just catchy marketing. T.R.I.P. actually features Galaxy hops from Australia, which are combined with Azacca hops from the Pacific Northwest. The hops are then put through Aeronaut's proprietary cold-steeping process – and like a cup of cold brew coffee, it's all the flavor without the bitterness. Very clever. But their ingenuity doesn’t stop there.
“For the yeast, we used a new strain with European origins, which we cultivate in-house,” Holmes tells us. “[W]e've been developing [it] under the banner of our feedback flight program, where the brewers share experimental recipes with visitors in the taproom! We’re getting a ton of great feedback on this strain, especially as it interacts with the hops that create the juicy, tropical flavor backbone of the beer.”
All of this inventiveness sounds wonderful, but does their theory carry over into practice?
Absolutely. The first sip comes across as smooth as a Pilsner; it’s not until the back end that you get the bite of hops. It's an excellent balance of light and crisp, and a refreshing take on Imperial Session Ales. For pairings, Aeronaut recommends a seafood dish, or even a bitter chocolate to bring out the fruit tones.
“Humans are comforted by the idea of leaving artifacts scattered in our wake. We’re driven to create something enduring that says, “We were here.” For musicians and brewers, those artifacts are sonic, liquid and metal.” Ritchie says. But while this is a beautiful combination of the three, it won’t be around forever. Aeronaut has only made 15 barrels, or roughly 150 cases. So get the full T.R.I.P. experience – album, beer and time-traveling, multiverse adventure – before it's just a relic of a great beer.
You can find T.R.I.P. at the brewery and beer stores in Massachusetts.
View Adam Ritchie's BostonTalks presentation on the project here.