Saturday, November 12, 2011

Queensryche's Michael Wilton Promotes Whip Ale at Total Wine

Total Wine Ft. Lauderdale is Hiring

So I got invited to an unpublicized event at Total Wine in Ft. Lauderdale this afternoon. By not publicized I mean Ed Roberts and I tweeted about it relentlessly with no real media outlet paying any attention. LOL. And it was better that way, anyway.

The event was Queensryche's Guitarist Michael "Whip" Wilton appearing to promote his Whip Ale, an American Pale Ale brewed by Diamond Knot Brewing in Washington. When I first heard about the event a few days ago, I was like, "Oh, shit. I don't know this band and its songs that well. Is that the Silent Lucidity band?" And indeed, I was correct about that. Yes, I can hear you all groaning because I label the band with one song. Whatever.

But I did listen to a bunch of their songs on YouTube and Pandora to bring myself up to speed. I don't think I'll ever be a metal kind of guy, but it was cool. And this is a rock legend! And he has his own beer!

Queensryche's Michael "Whip" Wilton. I'm the other guy.

I showed up early as usual to the one-hour event. (P.S. Most of you South Floridians should freakin' try that once in a while!) I did some shopping including grabbing a bottle of the other music beer of the week, Dogfish Head's Pearl Jam Faithfull. Oh, and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Sierra Nevada Celebration, the four new 22's Sam Adams put out, and yes, a few bottles of Whip Ale to be signed and consumed.

Ed picked up Michael from Revolution, where the band is playing a show tonight and arrived right on time at 2pm. I was the only one there so I got to ask all my questions and basically rap with Michael about beer and the band. We were about 5 minutes into our conversation when he finally realized I didn't work for Total Wine. LOL.

He's a totally cool guy, very knowledgeable about the product, and super friendly. I asked him about his nickname, which I'm sure he's never been asked before. He told me it's a childhood nickname that refers to the way he really whips on the guitar, a name that's stuck for decades. Good thing or we might not have this beer! Think about that.

Michael Wilton and Ed Roberts

We talked about all the stupid Prohibition Era laws that stifle the beer community and he seemed very satisfied that Total Wine would be handling much of the bureaucracy on a national basis. Apparently Whip learned his lesson dealing with crazy Washington State regulations and was fed up with that. I think he'd rather be jamming (do you kids still call it that?)

That led to the question... Why beer? Why is Whip Wilton brewing beer? He told me he was only a novice homebrewer but enjoyed IPAs and hoppy beers. And I think that's as complete an answer as I got. But he had a recipe and approached Diamond Knot about brewing the beer for him. They seemed like a natural fit as they'd be using local ingredients, they had two IPA's and Whip Ale is a Pale Ale. After three batches and a little tweaking of Whip's recipe, they had their final Whip Ale.

That's when I dropped some knowledge that Queensryche's Singer Geoff Tate has his own wine. I was going to ask whether the drummer had a whisky or not, but Michael instead started talking about how wine makers have an easier time with legal restrictions.

About 15 minutes into the tasting, Clean Plate Charlie John Linn unexpectedly walked by. My first thought was that he was going to scoop me again. LOL. But Ed let me know that he is now working for Brown Fresh Beer Distributors and that he was completely unaware of the event. Funny coincidence.

My Son's 3 String! Whip Ale Pick
Michael gave me and all tasters a Whip Ale guitar pick and I had him sign two bottles of the beer. I also had a few glasses of the beer. I'll do a thorough review another day that I don't have to coach 5 year olds on the finer points of hitting and throwing, but I did enjoy the beer. Was fairly bitter for a Pale Ale but I also thought the sweet malts came through very well. After that initial lull and close encounter with CPC, Michael had a few fans show up and one superfan that had a Whip Ale t-shirt on. I thought she was with the band but I don't think so. Autographs and photos were had. I'm so glad I didn't take my son's 3-string guitar to be signed. LOL.

[Update 11/27/11: I did do that thorough review I promised, so check it out!]

Whip was so cool and friendly and comfortable talking about the beer and pouring for the guests that I don't think many even knew he was a rocker legend that sold more than 20 million records! I had a great time in the 45 minutes I stayed and would totally do it again. Perhaps next time I'll plan ahead to see the show.

One last question. You like the beard I was sporting for the picture? Took like three weeks to grow, but I wanted to make sure I fit in. Actually, that's not really true since I only found out about this a few days ago. I guess it was fate! And I scraped that shit off of my face later in the day anyway.


marie said...

Saw them in concert in 1996 or 1997, they put on a great show. Drank a bottle of Boon's Farm and smoked a joint. My, but I've come a long way.

Beer Drinker Rob said...

I've never seen them live but meeting a rock star is always fun. And yeah, Boon's to Beer Babe, you've finally made it!