Start Date: 2014
Signature Metal Beer: Midnight Still Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
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. Seattle brewery Holy Mountain has garnered a worldwide following in a very short period of time, largely for its crisp, flavourful and ultra-clean mixed fermentation brews that are at once tart, complex and eminently drinkable. Co-founders Colin Lenfesty and Mike Murphy gave us the lowdown on a brewery with a name that may be familiar to Sleep fans.
Holy Mountain’s vibe isn’t overtly metal, but it’s lurking in there in your brewery name, merch and beer names. Was that part of your original vision for the brewery?
We’ve always had an obsession with the occult, religion and the imagery/symbolism attached. That was the driving force when we created the brand. We didn’t set out to be overtly metal but that vibe has definitely crept in because we’ve always been fans of heavy music, and again, the vast world of artwork and imagery associated. We’ve always just done our best to stay true to ourselves and keep the thought of how “metal” something is up for interpretation.
Is Sleep’s Holy Mountain album a favorite, or did it just make for a good brewery name?
A really good friend of ours, who is also a brewer, had talked about brewing a beer called “Holy Mountain” for a long time. It was to be the highest offering that a brewer could produce—the biggest most badass beer you could imagine. When we were first going through the process of setting up the brewery, looking for buildings, etc., we ended up having to ditch our original brewery name due to a trademark issue. We were at that friend’s house drinking beers and listening to Witchcraft, feeling sorry for ourselves for losing our name, and the name “Holy Mountain” popped up as a new option. The Sleep album was definitely the first association, but it also brought to mind occult/illuminati imagery, as well as an association with Washington state’s holy mountain, Mount Rainier. It was perfect. As fans, the uncompromising quality that Sleep uses in recording their albums and putting on shows—always bringing the heaviest at all costs—is incredibly inspiring. I think we follow that lead in the quality of beer we make—no cutting corners, giving it everything we have to ensure our customers have the highest quality experience possible.
One of the coolest things about the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest is that attendees will get to drink your beer while watching Sleep play the song “Holy Mountain.” Your thoughts?
That’s pretty crazy shit to think about! The festival is going to be awesome. We can’t wait to drink all the other breweries’ beers and listen to the amazing lineup. Sleep always puts on a great show and it will be awesome to have all that beer around to drink at the same time.
What’s the most metal beer Holy Mountain brews?
We don’t intentionally set out to make a beer “metal.” Most of the beers we produce age for a period of time in oak, and while we always have an idea of how the beer will turn out, we usually wait until much later in the process to name and brand a beer based on how it speaks to us. That said, Midnight Still is probably our most metal beer. It’s a 100% bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout that we release once a year.
Why should attendees of first annual the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest seek out Holy Mountain beers at the festival? Give Decibel readers your best pitch.
There are going to be a lot of awesome beers from a lot of incredible breweries at the fest. Attendees should try them all and make up their own mind. As this is being typed, we’re down at Burial in Asheville brewing a collaborative beer just for the Decibel Fest. So, definitely try that one!
Anything you’d like to add, any upcoming projects?
We’re going to continue exploring the relationships between hops, wild yeast and oak. We’re very fortunate with the bounty we have available in Washington. We have access to amazing hops, amazing fruit, wineries that supply us oak for different projects and incredible water, just to name a few. We have some pretty great collaborations coming up with some people we respect the hell out of, and we’re looking forward to traveling and working with those awesome breweries.
Before it’s TOO LATE, get tickets to Decibel Metal & Beer Fest here.