Brewtal Truth: Morbid Hour Arrives at Decibel Metal & Beer Fest

We’re just days away from the second iteration of Decibel‘s drunkest two-day event, the Decibel Metal and Beer Fest. While we’ve been slowly announcing the many different beers that the participating breweries will be pouring at the festival, we wanted to save one little surprise for the end. Our friends who are making the Six Most Metal Breweries TV series will be attending, along with the stars of the first episode in that series, Kings County Brewers Collective (KCBC), and they are bringing along a special beer they brewed together, Morbid Hour Black Pilsner. The Philadelphia Fillmore, where the event will be held, has purchased 10 cases of Morbid Hour to sell at the bar. The Six Most Metal Breweries will also have a booth during one of the sessions and KCBC co-owner/brewer Tony Bellis will be on hand to pour some Morbid Hour. We rang Bellis up on the Interhole to ask him more about this unholy beer.

Tony Bellis photo by Matt Furman

Tell me a little about what the Kings County Brewers Collective is? Is it a commercial brewery?
Kings County Brewers Collective is a commercial brewery in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. We’re the first brewery to brew beer in the Bushwick neighborhood in 40 years! Pete [Lengyel], Zack [Kinney] and myself were all looking to open breweries in NYC individually but knew how hard it was to open a brewery in this city. We met each other through the beer scene and decided to join forces and open a commercial brewery in Bushwick,  together with a 15-barrel brewhouse. That’s how KCBC came to be.

I take it that you’re a metalhead, but are there other metal fans that are part of the collective?
A good part of our staff are metal fans. One of my partners at KCBC, Pete, and I have a common love of metal and other loud stuff. We found out early in our friendship a common love of Danzig and Amon Amarth among lots of other bands. Our other KCBC partner Zack would not call himself a metalhead, but his first concert was Metallica so he gets a honorable mention! Other people on the KCBC crew (Rich, Krissa, Steve and Erin) are all into metal too. A lot of them are musicians as well so our playlists are always interesting around the brewery.

KCBC is the subject of the first episode of the Six Most Metal Breweries series. Tell me what the experience has been like filming this?
It’s been really cool working with Adam [Zuniga] and the crew from the Six Most Metal Breweries and the guys from Saint Vitus Bar. It’s cool to be able to tell the story of our brewery and our passion for beer and tie it to our love of metal. For me music really inspires me in everything in life and listening to something heavy as fuck while brewing, writing recipes or doing the boring business management things like paying bills always keeps me motivated and inspired. I hope other people see the cool stuff we’re doing and get inspired by what we do for a living just like I do by musicians and other brewers.

You brewed a black pilsner called Morbid Hour for the series, what made you choose this style?
When we started talking with Saint Vitus Bar and the Six Most Metal Breweries about the project I think we all agreed early on that it should be something dark, but easy drinking. Keeping the beer low ABV so you can have a bunch of them when at a show was also the goal. 4.66% AVB is perfect for drinking all night. It has a nice malt backbone and some roast to it, but it’s really smooth and crushable.

And along those lines, as opposed to a black lager (schwarzbier), what gives this brew the “pilsner” influence? Hops?
At its heart it actually is a Schwarzbier, we just liked calling it a Black Pilsner because it made it more approachable to a wider audience of beer drinkers. Its base is pilsner malt with some darker roasted malts as well, obviously. A nice hop note from Celeia hops that give the beer a slightly herbal note. A German beer at heart, metal as fuck.

How has the response been to the beer? Has it been in regular production since you brewed it for the Six Most Metal Breweries show?
We initially brewed a 30-barrel batch and kegged and canned it for the release. People really went nuts for it and we sold through almost all of it pretty quickly and had to ration some of it to last until these shows and the [Decibel Metal and Beer] festival. Our label artist Earl Holloway made a killer label, too, which has been cool to see on the beer cans. The great thing about lagers is they get better over time so it’s a great beer to last for a few months through the winter.

We know that you’re bringing some Morbid Hour the Metal and Beer Fest, which will be for sale at the bar. Which band or bands that are playing at the festival do you think Morbid Hour pairs best with?
I think the beer is a great pairing with Pallbearer since they both are heavy at heart but approachable and easy to take in. They’re one of my favorite bands, so I’m really excited to be drinking Morbid Hour during their set.  This beer is also totally a pairing to Mayhem because just like the Norwegian black metal legends this is truly a classic beer!

For those who can’t make it to the festival, where is Morbid Hour on tap and in cans?
The last kegs of Morbid Hour for this season will be available at the festival.

Will Morbid Hour be a regular KCBC brew or a one-off?
Most of what we brew are one offs because we like to constantly be creative and try new things, but because Morbid Hour was so popular I think we’ll look at doing it yearly in the late fall/early winter since it’s perfect for the cold-weather months. We’ve been talking about maybe doing a spring/summer variation of Morbid Hour or another beer with Saint Vitus Bar that would be good for warm weather concerts.

Anything else you want to mention? Any upcoming metal-related projects or releases, etc.?
We have our new “This Is Your Brain On Hops” series coming out this week which will be a rotating hop Double IPA series which we’re really excited about. I’ve been talking about some other upcoming metal-related projects but nothing we can talk about quite yet, but will let you know when they’re happening!