For most of the Aleheads, the 90s were the the “best” era in the history of rock music. Sure, most of the critically-acclaimed “greatest” bands of all time (Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Cream, etc.) existed before then. And, of course, there have been some incredibly good bands that have arrived on the scene after the 90s drew to a close. But the truth is, you never connect with music quite like you do in your teens and early 20s. It’s during those emotional, tumultuous years, when every experience seems fraught with meaning and everything seems so raw and important that music is most powerful. Since the Aleheads came of age during the era of Clinton and grunge, it’s only natural that the music of that period would be our favorite.

Slouch and I decided to revisit the tunes of our youth by playing our favorite game…Beer Analogies. We attempted to come up with a brewery that best represented some of the most popular bands of the 90s. Like our posts on The Wire and The Big Lebowski, the utility of such an exercise is dubious at best. But it was hella fun and we probably got more caught up than we should have in the whole endeavor. We stopped at 40 bands when we realized our analogies were getting a little tenuous. So if your favorite group from the era isn’t on this list, don’t be too upset. There’s literally no rhyme or reason to the bands we selected. As always, please feel free to add your own analogies in the Comments section. And if you can think of a good brewery to represent Cracker, well…you’re better at this than we are.



Nirvana – Pete’s Wicked: Nirvana essentially ended the 80s by starting the grunge/alternative movement before tragically exiting after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Pete’s was one of the key breweries in ending the macro tyranny in the 80s and paving the way for the craft beer movement of the 90s. Pete Slosberg may not have shot himself, but he essentially disappeared from the beer scene after selling his company to Gambrinus in 1998. (Barley)

No Doubt – Weihenstephaner: No Doubt was basically Gwen Stefani, a gorgeous blond, and a bunch of other guys. Weihenstephaner is basically their Hefeweizen, a gorgeous blond, and a bunch of other beers. Also “Weihenstephaner” kind of sounds like “GwenStefani” if you say it quickly. (Barley)

Alanis Morissette – Unibroue: A Canuck who probably became more famous than she should have because of a couple of strangely popular tunes (Ironic, You Outta Know). Unibroue is a Canadian ale factory that arguably gets more credit than they deserve because of a couple of strangely popular beers (La Fin Du Monde & Terrible). (Barley)

The Smashing Pumpkins – Dogfish Head: It pains me to write this, since I used to worship the Pumpkins. But after a brief tenure on top, they devolved into a cavalcade of poorly-conceived albums dreamed up by their frontman, an egomaniacal “genius” named Billy Corgan. Replace the words “albums” with “beers” and “Billy Corgan” with “Sam Calagione” and you’ve got the perfect description of Dogfish Head. (Barley)

Dave Matthews Band – Magic Hat: A feel-good, successful, hippie band that appealed to women and ultimately made some pretty pedestrian music. Magic Hat was a hippie ale factory that appealed to women (hello #9), and ultimately makes some pretty pedestrian brews. Also, they both sold out big time. (Barley)

Beastie Boys – Brooklyn Brewery: Both originating from the same borough in NYC, Mike-D and the boys pioneered a wave of white guys doing black music and then rode it to unprecedented success; Brooklyn Brewing hit the very beginning of the craft beer juggernaut to become one of the giants of the industry; Both have commercial hits that paved the way for everything to follow (Licensed to Ill, Brooklyn Lager); They offer high-concept experimental offerings the fans love (Paul’s Boutique, The Brooklyn Local Series); As well as the critic-proof aggressive singles that ensure you’re invited to the party for years to come (Fight for Your Right/ Sabotage, Black Chocolate Stout/ Monster). (Slouch)

Dream Theater – Pretty Things: Conceptual bordering on the annoying. Masters of a craft at the top of their form. Chance of commercial success = nil. (Slouch)

Everclear – Rolling Rock: Often the result of poor decisions when deciding whether to attend an event, we have all consumed more of both than we care to admit. Both pair better than you’d think with Black Tar Heroin. (Slouch)

Creed- Blue Moon: In some wave of mass delusion, everybody convinced themselves that they liked Blue Moon beer and Creed. Both sold out and became insufferable. As quickly as the notion of approval appeared, it dissipated leaving us confused, scared, and alone. If you encounter a Blue Moon Belgian White or Scott Stapp, immediately shove an orange wedge in it, take two quick slugs, and report the incident immediately to Aleheads’ Central Command. (Slouch)

Genesis – Young’s: Technically solid; Satisfactory in a pinch; Severely dated and not as revolutionary as it seemed in 1989 considering all that has transpired. (Slouch)

Jamiroquai – Budweiser: They played this at my college freshman orientation; I drank this at my college freshman orientation. (Slouch)

Korn – Stone: California acts that harness aggression and rage to appeal to an ostracized fan base; The commercial success is surprising when viewed from an objective point of view; Neither pander for people to like them, and you could encounter physical violence if posing a critique in the wrong place and time. (Slouch)

Marilyn Manson – Rogue: Hits are diluted, macabre ripoffs (Sweet Dreams/ Dead Guy Ale); There’s a commercial viability that you wouldn’t have bet on when you first discovered them; Both have an ingredient known as Twiggy; at the time edgy, now extremely passe in hindsight. (Slouch)

U2 – Guinness: Conquered the US from Ireland against all odds; there was a hell of a lot of head involved. (Slouch)

Snoop Dogg – Dark Horse: They produce a beer called “Smells Like Weed”- ‘nuff said. (Slouch)

Pantera – Lagunitas: They do one thing and one thing well- hammering your sensibilities with the hardest rock / hops on the planet, while maintaining a laid back, everyman stoner sensibility with in-jokes that have created a proud community of fans across the country. Also if you do too much too fast, you will regret it and look and smell like shit. (Slouch)

Phish – Otter Creek: More mainstream acceptance than fans care to acknowledge; Consumed most often in Middlebury dormitories; We draw conclusions from a small sample size of offerings; inexorably linked with hallucinogens. (Slouch)

Catherine Wheel – New Belgium: Arguably the most “commercial” of the shoegazer groups (like My Bloody Valentine and Ride), Catherine Wheel found that sweet spot between progressive rock and pop. New Belgium is arguably the most “commercial” of the Belgian-style American ale factories (see: Allagash, Ommegang) and they seem to have found that sweet spot between progressive (La Folie) and popular (Fat Tire). (Barley)

My Bloody Valentine – Allagash: In keeping with the shoegazer/Belgium analogy (this is why you come to Aleheads…admit it!), My Bloody Valentine had no business being a commercial success, but they released an absolutely mind-blowing album (Loveless) that caught the attention of critics and made them a fairly popular group. Allagash’s challenging, Belgian-inspired brews should have made them a niche brewery, but their uber-popular White caught everyone’s attention and made the brewery a household name (at least in the households of Aleheads). (Barley)

Ride – Ommegang: Might as well finish this inane analogy off. Ride lacked the commercial appeal of Catherine Wheel or the experimental daring of My Bloody Valentine, but they produced some high-quality tunes of their own (listen to the lush Vapour Trail if you haven’t yet). With this year’s 20th anniversary release of their seminal Nowhere, Ride may oddly end up being the most well-known shoegazer group. Ommegang might lack New Belgium’s marketing chops or Allagash’s innovative brewing techniques, but I would venture to say that they might be on their way to becoming the most popular Belgian-style ale factory in the US today. (Barley)

Manic Street Preachers – New Albion Brewing Company: Yeah…I don’t really remember them either…other than the fact that their guitarist disappeared into thin air one day. Kind of like New Albion! (Barley)

Matchbox Twenty – Gordon Biersch: Blandly corporate rock, but undeniably masters of their craft. Gordon-Biersch makes blandly commercial beer, but they are undeniably masters of their craft (German lagers). Also, I heard that Matchbox Twenty was going to make the Matchbox toy car company change their name to “G’Knight”. (Barley)

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Sam Smith’s: The Chili Peppers just keep chugging along. And every time you forget about them, one of their songs pops on the radio and you remember that they’re pretty good. Same with Sam Smith’s…they’ve been chugging along for centuries now. And just when a few months have passed since your last Taddy Porter or Oatmeal Stout, you grab a bottle and remember just how damn delicious their beers are. (Barley)

Bush – Redhook: Bush looked and sounded like a real band, but there was no substance there. Just fluff and inane lyrics. Redhook looks and sounds like a real brewery, but there’s no substance there, just bad, tasteless, insipid beer. (Barley)

Radiohead – BrewDog: Radiohead are pioneers. Innovators. Creators of challenging, sometimes inaccessible, and occasionally controversial music. They never compromise and they always push the envelope. Like Radiohead, BrewDog is a UK-based outfit that has found strong support in the States. They never compromise and are always innovating and pushing the envelope with their high-gravity, hop-forward concoctions. The analogy will make even more sense when Radiohead releases their next CD stuffed into a dead stoat. (Barley)

Neutral Milk Hotel – Oskar Blues: The first time I heard In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, I thought “my life is better for having heard this album.” The first time I drank a can of Oskar Blues Gordon, I thought “my life is better for having consumed this beer”. Both NMH and OB were innovators who put a unique spin on their respective oeuvres by incorporating non-traditional techniques (crazy instrumentation for NMH, canned craft beers for OB). Let’s just hope Dale Katechis doesn’t drop off the face of the Earth like Jeff Mangum. (Barley)

Tool – Founders: Maynard James Keenan, Tool’s enigmatic frontman, spent his formative years in Michigan before founding one of the most influential and successful groups of his era. Tool is known for writing challenging, powerful songs that reward patient, thoughtful listening. Their music doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone, but for those “in the know”, Tool may be one of the finest bands to come out of the 90s. Founders, located in Michigan, has had remarkable success thanks to their challenging, powerful creations that reward patient, thoughtful drinking. Their brews don’t necessarily appeal to everyone, but those “in the know” consider Founders to be amongst the best breweries in the US today. (Barley)

4 Non Blondes – Sherwood Forest Brewers: See if you can follow the logic here. 4 Non Blondes was a group made up of four people, none of whom were blonde. Sherwood Forest in Marlborough, MA brews four beers…none of which are a Blonde Ale. Now that’s what I call a half-assed analogy. (Barley)

Pearl Jam – Boston Beer Company: Helped kick-start the alternative movement and is still rocking after all these years. Though they seemed to be in a creative wilderness for almost a decade, Pearl Jam has since resurfaced in recent years with some surprisingly high-quality tunes. The Boston Beer Company helped kick-start the craft beer movement and is still going strong today. Though they lost a ton of cachet and their “craft brew darling” status for awhile, the BBC has since come back strong with some amazingly good beers over the past few years. Plus, the Boston Lager is like Ten…perhaps a little dated, perhaps more of a nostalgia trip than anything else. But you know what? I still drink Boston Lager. And I still listen to Ten. (Barley)

Alice in Chains – Deschutes: Alice in Chains was never the “biggest” name to come out of the Pacific Northwest in the 90s…but they were arguably the best band from the region. They had a unique voice, challenged their listeners, and created some of the most memorable tunes from the era (man I loved “Would?”). Deschutes may not be the biggest name amongst Pacific Northwest brewers, but most Aleheads consider them the best. They have created unique, challenging beers that stand the test of time. Plus, they make the Abyss…a beer that basically describes Layne Staley’s life in one word. (Barley)

Metallica- Sierra Nevada: NoCal pioneers that proved the commercial viability of heavy metal and hoppy craft beer; Overwhelming success with a single offering that changed them from fringe act to household name (Black / Pale Ale); managed to sell out without making it obvious; Have a huge catalog of rock-solid work (Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning/ Monster Barleywine, Wet Hop Ale); battled the commoditization of their product by outside forces (Napster/ 7,000 breweries popping up in their backyard); both drummers are kind of assholes. (Slouch)

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Clown Shoes: Toad the Wet Sprocket became very commercially successful and produced some surprisingly solid tunes despite one of the weirdest names in music history. Clown Shoes has become commercially successful and produces some excellent brews despite having one of the oddest brewery names ever. Are we reaching? Yes, we’re reaching. (Barley)

The Black Crowes- Troeg’s: Solid, souful artists that bear the unfortunate similarity of being fronted by brothers who can’t stand each other- the fraternal feuding between Crowes’ frontman Chris Robinson and axe-wieldin’ Rich is well documented; less well documented* is the violent rift between hops-slingin’, tank-scrubbin’ bros Chris and John Trogner whose workplace fisticuffs are the stuff of legend in the small world of imaginary brewing. (Slouch)

*Because I made it up. But YOU try coming up with a brewery analogy for The Black Crowes!

Beck – The Bruery: A one-man show, Beck is an experimental, highly successful, SoCal recording artist who does his own thing at all times. The Bruery is Patrick Rue’s baby through and through: an experimental, successful, SoCal-based brewhouse that completely reflects the vision of its innovative founder. (Barley)

Green Day – Anchor: Neither Anchor or Green Day has changed a damn things over the decades. Anchor keeps churning out the same, solid, palate-friendly California Common Beer day after day. And Green Day keeps pumping out solid, punk-influenced, radio-friendly tunes year after year. Like death and taxes, Green Day and Anchor will seemingly always be there. (Barley)

Better Than Ezra – Long Trail: Personal choice, but Better than Ezra was sort of the “cool” college band in the 90s and Long Trail was the “cool” college beer for many of the Aleheads. Maybe neither the band or the brewery were world-beaters, but they were both solid with palatable, well-crafted output. (Barley)

Our Lady Peace – Dieu De Ciel: A Canadian alternative outfit that produced some dense, complex, yet accessible albums, Our Lady Peace was the “best” Canadian band of the era but never earned the praise or respect of their American peers. Dieu De Ciel is a Canadian brewery that produces some dense, complex, yet accessible beers. And while they’re probably the best Canadian brewery operating right now, they just don’t have the cachet of the top American ale factories. (Barley)

Soundgarden – 3 Floyds: Nirvana was the catalyst. Pearl Jam was the light side. Alice in Chains was the dark side. But when it came to the Seattle “grunge” scene, Soundgarden was probably the most talented, technically proficient group. Said Chris Cornell about Soundgarden during their glory years, “I think we were the most daring and experimental and genre pushing.” 3 Floyds may not have the name recognition of other craft ale factories like Founders, Bells, Dogfish Head, or Stone, but they just might be the most talented and technically proficient brewers out there. Plus, 3 Floyds Black Sun sounds suspiciously like Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun. Coincidence? (Barley)

Weezer – PBR: Weezer is highly commercially successful despite the fact that they, you know, kind of suck. Their glory days are loooooong behind them (if they ever really had them), but they keep on keepin’ on thanks to Rivers Cuomo, their insufferable hipster douchebag frontman. PBR is a highly commercially succesful brand despite the fact that their beer, you know, kind of sucks. Their glory days of winning blue ribbons are looooooong behind them, but they keep on keepin’ on thanks to the insufferable hipster douchebags that think PBR is delicious irony in a can. (Barley)

Foo Fighters – Lost Abbey: The Foo Fighters rose from the ashes of Nirvana as drummer Dave Grohl founded the group shortly after the death of Kurt Cobain. While Nirvana was brilliant, Foo Fighters had an even tighter focus, and became just as commercially successful, if not more so, than their predecessor. Lost Abbey is something of a “spin-off” from the incredible Port Brewing Company. They have a much tighter, Belgian-centric focus and have become just as well-regarded, if not more so, than their original parent company. (Barley)

We’re officially reaching now, which means it’s time to call it a day. Until next time, dear readers, remember that…

One day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see

3 thoughts on “THE ALEHEADS TAKE ON: 90’S ROCK

  1. First of all, I can’t believe you guys did this. Allow me to add a few:

    Bryan Adams: Molson. Adams sounds like he smokes nonstop. If I’m drinking Molson, there’s a good chance I’m trashed, which means there’s a good chance I’ll look for a smoke. (ok, so that’s a reach).

    R.E.M.: Terrapin. This was the most obvious one. Both founded in Athens, GA. ‘Nuff said.

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