Update: Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine is slated to attend the festival on Sat., April 22. He’ll be signing posters and pouring beer.
After two years of daydreaming and a third year of intense planning, Decibel Magazine is launching a new beer festival that pairs heavy metal music with craft brews.
There aren’t many beer festivals of this kind in the US — one of the few others is in Pittsburgh, which hosted its first Brewtal Beer Fest last fall — but there apparently is demand. As of right now, three and a half months before the April 22-23 “Metal & Beer Fest” goes down at the Fillmore in Fishtown, the event is already more than half sold-out.
Decibel folks aren’t rookies when it comes to concerts, of course. Under editor-in-chief Albert Mudrian, the Philly-based national music magazine has sponsored an annual tour since 2012, but there’s an entirely separate battery of logistics to deal with when you’ve got beer tables peppered throughout general admission. You need the perfect venue and the right mix of bands and beer, not to mention someone to pull it all together.
Enter Decibel’s marketing manager, Alex Yarde, who joined last spring and whose background in event planning was the catalyst for turning the Metal & Beer Fest dream into reality.
“Unibroue’s decision to sponsor [the event] was the final push,” Yarde says. How’d she make it happen?
In mid-2016, Yarde casually mentioned the concept to local Unibroue rep Corey Ford, who ran it up the flagpole at the flagship. Turns out Unibroue already had plans for a fall 2016 release of A Tout Le Monde — a Belgian-style saison made as a collaboration between brewmaster Jerry Vietz and Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine. The cross-promotional opportunity was too good to overlook.
While Yarde was busy finding additional brewers and locking down the location, Mudrian set to work on the bands. Using connections he’s cultivated since the magazine’s 2004 debut, Mudrian selected 12 bands he thought would pair well with the selection of breweries, of which there are now 17.
There could have been many more. “Once word got out, we unfortunately had to turn both bands and brewers away,” Yarde says. “The response was overwhelming.”
Although there haven’t been many dedicated festivals, there’s already a lot of overlap between the metal and beer communities.
Brewers like 3 Floyds, who will be pouring at the event, have made a name for themselves among beer geeks and metalheads with events like Dark Lord Day and beer collaborations with thrash legends Municipal Waste and Pig Destroyer. Both bands will take the stage at the Metal & Beer Fest, along with headliners Agoraphobic Nosebleed, recently reunited stoner doom legends Sleep, and supporting acts that include Philly locals Crypt Sermon and Denver’s Khemmis, whose most recent release, Hunted, just took the top spot in Decibel’s Top 40 Albums of 2016.
There are two ticket options. The “Metal and Beer” ticket gets in the venue and gives you access to pours from all the breweries in attendance. “Just Metal” gets you into the venue with the option to purchase selected beers, including Unibroue’s “A Tout Le Monde,” at the cash bars throughout the Fillmore. Each is available in single-day or two-day variety.
Yarde’s suggestion on which way to go? “You’re gonna want the Metal and Beer ticket. The brewers have told me they’re bringing some pretty special stuff.”