Cheers!: A Funky Pairing Made in Heaven

All day long I had Fred Wesley and his trombone looking at me. I thought it would be a good thing, but it turned out to be a bad thing because the minutes ticked like hours, and the hours ticked like weeks.

It started it out when on my way to work I stopped at the post office, where a copy of Fred’s record Wuda Cuda Shuda had finally arrived after I had ordered it many months ago. I ordered early because the first 500 copies were being released on funky orange vinyl.

Fred Wesley AlbumFred, you may recall, was trombonist and band leader for the late, great James Brown, so, you can imagine, Fred wields one funky ’bone.

And all day long Fred called to me in orange tones – I am going to funk you up, he kept saying.

But when I finally got home there was the dilemma of what should I drink with this first dip into Fred Wesley’s orange-tinged world?

Magic fridge, make my dreams come true!

Thanks to Baileys Harbor beer lover Sam Perlman, I pulled out a bottle of New Glarus Brewing Company’s Cran-bic 2016 from the always dependable magic fridge. Somehow, it was the perfect accompaniment to a record that tells Fred’s story, including a song about being a behind-the-scenes man all those years for Mr. Brown, and then being fired by the Godfather of Soul.

Why does the Cran-bic pair so well with this record? Fred Wesley is a master of the trombone, just as Dan Carey of New Glarus is a master of brewing. He gives the Belgian Lambic a Wisconsin twist by imbuing the liquor with cranberries rather than raspberries (framboise), cherries (kriek) or currants (cassis), and Wisconsin is the No. 1 producer of cranberries.

The sour beer and cranberries reach a tart crescendo that is unique among Lambics.

And here’s a secret – as it warms, the lambic sour and cranberry tart delight the palate separately. Layers of tart on the tongue. This is one funky pairing!

And Fred wails…


Article Comments