Shedding Light in an Age of Doubt

“Luminous 09”, Great Notion Brewing. Photo by Nick M. W.

Brewery: Great Notion Brewing (Portland, OR)

Artist: Arcade Fire

Beer: “Luminous 09” (5.8% ABV)

Song: “Age of Anxiety I”

I raised a glass of Great Notion’s juicy red “Luminous 09”, the ninth edition in their series of sour IPAs, as I absorbed WE, the sixth Arcade Fire album.

The Rose City has been known as a craft beer hot spot for decades, but one brewery has made a fine name for itself well beyond the Willamette Valley: Great Notion Brewing, and they’ve done it in a relatively short amount of time.

Friends, co-founders, and co-brewers James Dugan, Andy Miller, and Paul Reiter set themselves apart from other breweries in a competitive market by brewing unconventional IPAs, and sours, using varieties of local fruit (in Oregon, that can be pinot noir grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and cherries), and stouts, using shit like roasted coffee, vanilla beans, and maple syrup.

“Luminous 09” was fermented with lactobacillus, which a quick internet scan will tell you is a “good bacteria” that produces an “undesirable” taste in beer, except for varieties of sours. In addition to that friendly microorganism, the good folks at Great Notion tossed in some milk sugar and yeast in the mix, which gives “Luminous 09” a creamy mouth feel.

Aw, yeah, baby. Creamy mouth feel.

Blackberries (also grown in Oregon) and vanilla are added to bring about a rich flavor. The beer produces a sour burst when it first splashes across the tongue, but that tapers once you guzzle that swig down your gullet.

“I see a theme.” Image edit by Nick M. W.

I’m a sucker for a well-designed beer can. If the art pops but the beer sucks, at least you had something cool to look at while you dumped the brew down the drain. The art POPS on all of Great Notion’s cans, a tip of the cap to their artist/s, and their beers are solid at worst. At their best, and “Luminous 09” is up there, Great Notion’s brews are works of culinary art.

Is that pretentious? Well, it suits the vibe because a tasteful, exquisite beer, like “Luminous 09”, deserves an equally exquisite soundtrack. Drinking this brew to Slayer didn’t feel like the appropriate pairing. Arcade Fire, though, one of the most pretentious of bands to stomp/clap their way to fame, is the perfect pairing.

They make music that makes you feel something. On WE, Arcade Fire’s journey from introspective angst to communal transcendence begins with “Age of Anxiety I”, my favorite track on the album. It’s a slow onset of panic that begins with some tender piano chords and Win Butler kind of whimsically singing about an age of…anxiety. Worry. Fear. The ingredients of a mental breakdown, urged forward by the piano, until a little more than halfway through the track, the band pivots, and we travel back in time to a modern version of the 1980s.

The experience here feels more hopeful than where “Age of Anxiety I” begins, and I feel enlightened and enlivened by “Luminous 09”.

Originally published at https://www.farfromprofessional.com on May 27, 2022.

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