Don Cornelius, the sultan of smooth and soul, who created and hosted Soul Train for 22 years, sadly died earlier this month. But his spirit lives on … in a beer--a brown ale brewed with coffee and aged in bourbon barrels. Western Mass brewers High and Mighty are dropping the beer Tuesday night at the OtherSide Cafe, along with Massachusetts Girls Pint Out. (The OSC will be screening Soul Train and Don Cornelius-inspired cupcakes will be provided by We Are Not Martha too!) Honest Pint hopped on the Soul Train with High and Mighty brewers Will Shelton, Andrew Bosquet and Jim Marcyoniak, to get the scoop on their new beer.
What is Don Cornelius all about?
High and Mighty Beer: Plainly put, it’s a beer with soul.
Why the Soul Train inspiration?
Shoot. Why not? Soul Train represented a magical era of funk freedom and expression. The music, the clothing, and the style were all killer. Besides, we’re pretty groovy dudes over here.
How did you develop the beer?
The three bald men of High & Mighty Beer Co. were having a company meeting at Amherst Coffee, a local shop here in Western Mass that turns into a whisky bar at night. We were enjoying a few bottles of our XPA, and were also sharing a generous pour of Buffalo Trace bourbon, while taking in the intense coffee aromas that make Amherst Coffee so intoxicating. The three worked perfectly together – a liquid metaphor for the guys at the table, a ménage à trois where everyone feels fulfilled.
The recipe was written up on a bar napkin then and there, Spinal Tap-style, and the beer was brewed just a few days later. Mukunda from Amherst Coffee hooked us up with twenty pounds of his fantastic French roast coffee, and Jackson [Cannon] at Eastern Standard managed to score us some empty Buffalo Trace barrels in which to age the beer, and a few weeks later, Don Cornelius was in the house.
How would you describe how it smells/tastes/looks like?
It’s a deep, garnet red, and it’s sexy.
It’s dry, with gentle coffee flavors and aromas and a little kick of bourbon/oak in the finish. Like everything we do at High & Mighty, it’s subtle – the coffee and bourbon flavors aren’t intended to overwhelm the beer. If we might paraphrase noted beer drinker, Will Shakespeare, the beer is the thing.
What kind of food would you pair it with?
We wouldn’t, really. But, if you insisted, we’d say Spam. Raw.
What would you most like people to know when drinking this beer?
That it was conceived, named, and brewed, back in October – months before Don C left the stage – and that we’re not trying to exploit his untimely exit. This is a celebration of an icon.
Favorite Soul Train moment?
That’s tough to say.
How about every damn time it came on?