Decibel Metal & Beer Fest Brewery Profile: Burial Beer Co.

Burial Beer Co.
Asheville, NC

Start Date: 2013
Signature Metal Beer: Scythe Rye IPA

The bands that will be performing at the upcoming Decibel Metal & Beer Fest on April 22-23 in Philadelphia are no doubt familiar to Decibel readers, but we wanted to shine a little light on the craft beer underground by spotlighting the breweries that will be pouring their beers at the festival. Next up we head south to chat with Burial co-founder/brewer Timothy Gormley.

I know you’re a metal fan, but how do you bring the metal aesthetic to Burial beers without potentially alienating people who like good beer, but might be put off by overt metal imagery?
One of the best things that Burial Beer Co. has going for it is that the ownership team is a diverse one. Doug, Jess, and I all have very different backgrounds and interests, and that dynamic ends up being very much to our advantage. Doug has a law background and is able to apply very practical branding knowledge to creative ideas. Jess has a master’s degree in art history and has a great sense for composition and story telling through imagery. I’m the metalhead in the group. In the early days when we were trying to come up with our art direction and branding, I was pitching a lot of different artists that I knew through my love for music. I think the place where all three of our aesthetics blended was in psychedelic imagery. Doug is really into psych rock (both from the ’60s/’70s and modern), Jess is a big fan of Flemish art (artists like Hieronymus Bosch) and I love the psychedelic elements of doom metal. When we found David Paul Seymour, the type of work he was producing was attractive to all three of us.

Sure, David’s art has a lot of skulls and bones and three-eyed beasts, but it’s undeniably intriguing. It’s rich and strange and colorful and demented and full of mystic imagery and you just can’t look away. You’ve just got to pick up the can or bottle and ask yourself, “what is this?” Is there any better way to brand a product?

And then we put some very unique beers in those packages. If we can get the public to read about the liquid on the inside because they were curious about the art on the outside, we feel that the branding was successful.

You package a lot of your beer in cans. In addition to cans being “very metal,” what are the benefits to canning beer?
There was once a time when the only beer that came in a can was shitty. That time is over. Modern cans have a lining inside that prevents the can from lending a metallic flavor to the beer. Cans, unlike bottles, allow for zero potential of light damage or skunking. Cans get colder faster and are easier to crush and recycle. Cans allow for less oxygen intake through time. Can labels wrap the entire surface area of the container, allowing for maximum branding potential.

What’s the most metal beer Burial brews?
I’ve often asked myself, what makes a beer metal? Is it a beer that a guy in a metal band would drink during a show? Like a PBR? We’ve got Shadowclock Pilsner. Or maybe he’s drinking shots of whiskey? We’ve got Bourbon Barrel Aged Scythe Rye IPA. Is it an extremely strong, black beer—maybe an imperial stout? We’ve got Houtenhamer Double Barreled Imperial Stout. Maybe it’s a beer with an unforgiving name? We’ve got Massacre of the Innocents IPA. Or maybe it’s a fierce beer that has roots in Scandinavia and is named after a really bad-ass medieval sword? We’ve got Ulfberht Oak Aged Baltic Porter brewed with juniper berries.

Anything else you’d like to add?
One thing that I love about the metal community is that, in a lot of cases, we look really fucking brutal on the outside with our long hair and our all black clothes and our jackets covered in abrasive logo patches, but on the inside we are no different than you. We are kind. We can even be sensitive and loving. When I first met the crew from TRVE Brewing in Denver, I fell in love with them. They are sweet folks trying to make great beer just like everyone else. To the outsider, maybe they seem intimidating, but it’s just a perception thing. When TRVE and Burial set out to make a collaboration beer together, my idea was to play on this concept of a fierce looking beer with a sweet heart. We brewed a black braggot with 40% honey and aged it in brandy barrels. On the surface, it’s strong and black like midnight inside of a coffin. But within, it’s full of floral honey notes and vinous, oaky accents. That’s the most metal beer Burial has ever brewed. We plan to release it at the festival.

To get tickets to the Decibel Metal & Beer, go here.