“There are an awful lot of brewers who are into music,” Dalldorf says, “I don’t think you can go into any brewery in America and not hear loud rock and roll or reggae or something coming out of the brewhouse. That’s the background music of brewing.”
Of course, verses about beer have been around since at least 1800 BC, when some swingin’ Sumerian beer geek penned “Hymn to Ninkasi,” singing the praises of the ancient goddess of brewing. And religious historian Mircea Eliade writes of “animating the drum”—a sacred ceremony wherein a shaman would sprinkle beer on the shell and skin of his ritual instrument in order to bring it to life so it could tell stories.
But the popular cultural expressions of beer and music, rooted in the ribald drinking songs of continental Europe and the British Isles, have certainly been turned up several notches in the New World, where country and blues had a baby and called it rock and roll. And just as tame lagers and ales aren’t where it’s at for most American craft brewers anymore, the “Beer Barrel Polka” is a nostalgia trip.