It’s Super Bowl week and Houston is boasting its best attributes for all to see. Two things we do better than most American cities – beer and music – have been flowing untapped all week. Tomorrow, visitors and locals can celebrate both in one place with a Houstonian who’s devoted plenty of time to these enriching subjects.
Jon Denman is host of the Drink of Ages Radio Show, which will mark its fourth anniversary with a party 2 p.m. Saturday at Drink of Ages Pub, 1005 Waugh. Two dozen local breweries and a handful of out-of-towners will be tapping beers throughout the afternoon. Free to the public, the event will feature music from The Lime Traders and The Journey Agents.
Drink of Ages the show, which airs 9 p.m. Fridays on ESPN 97.5 FM, spotlights a brewery and band each episode. It has now hosted more than 160 music acts, who “probably drank, combined, over 10,000 beers,” Denman estimates.
We asked the show host and pub owner what elements Houston’s beer and music communities have in common.
“For each to be successful, they have to put the work in. In order to put the necessary work in, they have to be extremely passionate about what they are doing. You cannot half-ass either one,” Denman shares. “The beer and the music communities are proud of their art, and want to share it with as many people as they can.
"It definitely takes a special type of personality to be in both businesses," he continues. "Fortunately, both types are generally good, driven, happy and fun people. I have worked in other industries. There really is nothing like the music and beer communities.”
The local breweries that will be on hand make for an all-pro lineup, making the pub the perfect place for Big Game visitors to try them all at once. The full list Denman sent over includes the granddaddy of them all, Saint Arnold, and newer favorites, like 8th Wonder, Eureka Heights and Texian. Buffalo Bayou, Sigma, SpindleTap, Goliad, Brash, Alamo, No Label and Platypus will all be represented. Holler, Southern Star, Lone Pint, B-52, Copperhead, Bakfish and Back Pew will be pouring favorites. Duo Cider, Cyclers and Texas Beer Refinery round out Denman’s list. The pub’s next-door neighbor, Fuel, is breaking out the grill, Denman said, “with tacos, kabobs, mac and cheese, chicken wings and more.”
Music-wise, Denman has lined up recent radio guests The Lime Traders, whom he describes as “a duo of soulful vocalists harmonizing over a duo of heavy blues guitars, with a foundation of deep bass and a groovy pocket to sit it all in and make it hard not to dance along." The Journey Agents might be simply classified as funk, he says, but it's not quite that simple.
The Agents are "all original and often explore other territories as well. Latin, percussion-heavy samba rhythms," he explains. "Textures of jazz and energy of rock are elements that can also be found in the grease bucket. Cosmic, spacy vibes, yet earth-rooted and tightly arranged movements, are designed to be crowd-centric. Beautiful baby-making music.”
You can trust Denman’s takes on music. He’s had global acts (Flogging Molly), national acts (Cody Jinks) and your favorite locals on the show.
“In the beginning everyone was a surprise,” he admits. “Each story of what brought them to where they are today, both brewery and band guests, was inspiring and entertaining. A bunch of bands I still talk to on a regular basis. Friendships and drinking buddies were made.”
“Brock Wagner from Saint Arnold is always a favorite," he adds. "The guy is an amazing individual. I can talk beer with him for days. Certain bands really know their beers — Second Lovers, The Journey Agents, Muddy Belle, Grizzly Band are a few. Then you have Poor Dumb Bastards, Dead Rabbits and a few more that really enjoyed the beer, no matter which ones.”
Denman says he would love to lure a few more big fish out there into the pub and onto the show — Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman, for one.
“Fat Mike from NOFX would be fun," Denman says. "Although I am not sure how much of that interview would air on ESPN.”
Until those dream guests are booked, the show and its namesake pub keep evolving. The latter opened last June following renovations of what used to be Growlers in a former life. It introduced the Mug and Growler Club several months ago and quickly sold out of lifetime memberships, which get members exclusive drink specials, "Taste It First" tappings and parties throughout the year.
Denman has had a privileged view of the growth both Houston's music and its beer communities have enjoyed in recent years and says what is good for one is good for the other.
“We have over 20 breweries in the area, with more on the way," he says. "This has given an opportunity for so many local bands to perform at the breweries. The two work well together. With more breweries, we all get more opportunity. Consumers get to try new beers and bands get a new place to play”
The Drink of Ages Radio Show 4 Year Anniversary Beer Party, tomorrow, 2 to 6 p.m. at Drink of Ages Pub, 1005 Waugh. Free.
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