Kyle Craft – To Øl

ALBUM GENRE: Rock, retro stylings.

BEER STYLE: Gose.

To say I’m not a fan of over inflated 70s hair rock is probably an understatement. So, when I first heard the thunderously high-pitched screech of Kyle Craft’s vocals, and saw the man’s ridiculously volumous locks, I quickly reached for the skip button…

Anyway, this week’s bottle isn’t a bottle at all. It is, in fact, a can; and this can comes along with an apology to my hordes of fans for the three weeks that I missed posting. I can only apologise, but in all honesty, a certain cowboy related video game and also non-cowboy related work things got in the way and most of my beer was simply drunk for the sole purpose of intoxication.

Danish brewer To Øl’s ‘Gose to Dim Sum Restaurant, Orders One of Each’ is the beer that caught my eye this week. Its can displays a dark forest scene with a rather imposing skull protruding on a quarter of the can. And, of course, what slightly gothic forest scene could be considered complete without a large circular TV test pattern plastered across its black and white tones? To Øl’s certainly passes on that front.

I picked this one up entirely on the basis of its can art, and to be honest, I expected not to enjoy it when I picked it out of the fridge to drink it; having had two of the other beers I picked on that particular trip to The Crafty Half meeting their fate with a swift chugging into my winced, deeply unwilling face. Oh, the wonders of alcohol…

Looping back to Kyle Craft. After a few months of Spotify repeatedly insisting that I’d love The Free Design’s ‘Kites Are Fun’ (I do not, please stop. I’ve never flown a kite in my life), Kyle Craft’s ‘Eye of a Hurricane’ resurfaced, playing as I busily worked away. This time, I laid aside my ignorance and listened. What I’d initially hurried away from my ears due to a voice one critic compared to Jim Steinman of Meat Loaf, suddenly had me hooked. He belted his Dylan-esque lyrics, pounding away at the keys of a black and white toned piano and within a week I knew every word and had the record put aside at Fives while I scrambled together some funds.

Spinning it for the first time, I was met with a brilliant transition from Eye of a Hurricane to Balmorhea, another song employing his mysterious, as previously mentioned, Dylan-esque lyricism, delivering a cryptic tale of heartache and misery, a common theme on the album.  Next, we’re met with Berlin, another heavily 70s rock inspired track named after another object of Craft’s desire.

Kyle Craft is fantastic at writing something that you’re going to get excited to sing along to. I can hardly keep myself from thundering out an awful attempt at some of the album’s hooks, something that this album is absolutely packed with. If you want something that’s bound to engage you, this might be it.

Now you may have noticed my brilliantly subtle link back to the beer there: “black and white toned piano”, much like the “black and white tones” of the beer can. Although my links are usually almost as strenuous as that, this one goes further than just the colour of the can. My first encounter with Kyle Craft was a negative one. I naively skipped it, much as I had done with To Øl’s Can every time I opened my fridge.

Its can suggested I was about to pour something dark, possibly a stout or something else particularly heavy, and I rarely enjoy overly heavy beers. But, when I cracked open the can, poured it out and gave it a chance to impress, I was met with what may well become one of my favourite beers.

To Øl’s ‘Gose to Dim Sum…’ pours an appealing, almost clear, golden colour, a foamy, thick head adorning its surface. Immediately, my fears were scarpered, my nose quickly assaulted by the refreshing, fruity smells of Lychee and Dragonfruit. Taking the first sip, my eyes probably widened as I swallowed. The taste wasn’t followed by any sort of overbearing bitterness so often found in similarly refreshing IPAs, something that, although I understand is supposed to be there, after a series of overly aggressive, heavy beers, I was more than willing to embrace.

To my knowledge, this had been my primordial Gose, a style of beer, known for its salty taste. Although, this particular one wouldn’t exactly stack up beside a pack of pork scratchings, its added soya means that it offers a light hint of saltiness, complementing the lack of bitterness.

In summary, I went into Kyle Craft’s Dolls of Highlands expecting to grow some sort of camera style iris in my earhole to block out something that elicited memories of Absolute Radio’s no repeat hour, but once I had given it a chance, I was met with an album that, give or take one or two tracks, I’d call damn near perfect. A similar story to my encounter with To Øl’s ‘Gose to Dim Sum Restaurant, Orders One of Each’.

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