Beer and drums: the overflow thread

Chico homebrewer Heather Best.

Chico homebrewer Heather Best.

Photo By jason cassidy

More beer? Faithful readers know that Arts DEVO is a fan of a well-crafted brew, and so it has been with great enthusiasm that I and my fellow CN&R beer-lovers have recently immersed ourselves in our area’s excellent craft beers and the people who make and sell them.

Some of those excellent local beers are, of course, being made by homebrewers. And, while I have brewed a few of my own IPAs and a couple of brown ales, my creations haven’t been nearly as tasty as some other local suds. My buddy and West by Swan guitarist Dan Greenfield has cranked out several all-grain batches—steam beers, farmhouse ales, bocks, bitters, and more—that have been extremely tasty. And, more recently, a local homebrewer I met just last week, Heather Best, shared a unique creation that knocked my hair back: a lavender pale ale. Inspired by a clone recipe of Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, Best added some edible lavender with the hops during dry-hopping, and the result is a clean and surprisingly well-balanced ale that is a perfect complement to a hot summer day.

I met Best out at Feather Falls Casino Brewing Co. when I was following brewmaster Roland Allen around the brewhouse for this week’s “Craft-beer takeover” story (see page 18). She was recently laid off from her job as an IT project manager, and in addition to spending her time making beer, Best has been interning with Allen in an effort to learn more about brewing and to decide if she might want to pursue a career in the field.

“I absolutely love it. It’s just totally natural,” she said of the experience at Feather Falls thus far.

The self-described foodie said that she’s always looking for things that stand out, where the people involved are “going outside the norm,” and she’s constantly seeking out the most inventive craft brews.

Wolf Thump logo, by Dragonboy and Ayrian Dilts.

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“There are just infinite possibilities with craft beer,” Best said, and that mindset is put into practice with her own homebrew portfolio which, in addition to the lavender brew, features things like an amber peach-tea ale, a honey-basil ale, and even a key-lime-pie variety. Her home production is cranked up to two batches a week these days as she prepares to supply beer for her upcoming wedding. “We’re doing between 50 and 100 gallons of homemade beer. We’ll probably have anywhere from 15 to 20 things on tap.”

If anyone going to that reception needs a date for the night, you have my email address above.

More groove? There was a lot more to my Q&A with Mike Wofchuck—bandleader of Chico samba troupe Wolf Thump—that I couldn’t fit into the story on page 29. Here’s just one item that didn’t make the cut, about Wofchuck playing in both The Mother Hips and MaMuse:

CN&R: How does it feel to have been in two of the most influential and popular bands in Chico over the last couple of decades?

Wolfchuck: “They’re just my good friends, both groups. It’s just very natural, both processes, and I’m just very blessed to have friends who are amazing songwriters. If you combine amazing songwriting and amazing vocal talent, it’s a big blessing to have those two together. I just feel really blessed that I was able to support those messages in both groups.

“And with MaMuse, it’s just been, once again, a very natural unfolding. [It’s] so amazing to see what those gals are up to, just the beauty of their expression. [When] they started writing songs, I heard them a couple times, so I definitely kind of knocked on the door a little bit, because I knew it was going to be good.

“At first, I didn’t know necessarily how to do it. I was with my sticks and, you know, we got together one time and it just didn’t sound right. But then David [Longaker, Karisha’s father] was like, ‘Hey, check these out,’ and gave me some brushes. And then it opened up this whole new world for me—especially as a percussionist—of learning about sensitivity, learning how to support in a powerful way, yet a very low-volume way, which I’d never really experienced. For sure, [with] The Mother Hips, we had a lot of dynamics. But in samba, the West African drumming thing—that’s just like full-on. You’re slamming. So it was really nice to have this experience with MaMuse of learning how to just totally get under the melody. It’s been great for me to learn about that.”