Though WarPigs is currently a transnational brewery collaboration between Indiana’s 3 Floyds Brewing Co. and Denmark’s Mikkeller, when I hear the name I think of the rock band Black Sabbath — not beer.
The antiwar anthem “War Pigs,” released on the 1970 album “Paranoid,” starts out with a groovy instrumental guitar and drum intro before an air siren — that chilling portent of impending doom — begins wailing its own track over the others like a new-moon banshee. Then begins the vocals as the sharp, unmistakable sound of Ozzy Osbourne emerges amid short, punctuated notes that sound like gunfire.
Despite the assertion by some that this song praises evil, it actually speaks to the idea that those who wage wars aren’t the ones fighting and dying for the cause. As the late South Dakota Sen. George McGovern, a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War, pronounced, “I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”
The song is about those who are in power preying on those who aren’t, while using others still to carry out their wishes. It’s a political song, one of general unhappiness over the discord of war and with a lyrical theme often seen as a response to the Vietnam War. Black Sabbath used its voice to share a belief that, in the end, Satan and evil win not because of any secret rites, but because the machinations of war breed destruction and desolation.
Pigs also were used during battles in ancient times. It has been written that they were sometimes slathered with a flammable substance before being lit on fire and sent in a crazed frenzy to frighten the enemy’s war elephants.
War pigs. It surely sounds scary to me; their squeals are enough to set one’s teeth on edge.
But what of the odd partnership between a Midwestern brewery steeped in heavy metal culture and a former nomadic brewer who formally settled down when planting roots in Copenhagen?
That would be WarPigs: Brewing beers influenced by both sides of the Atlantic and serving Texas-style barbecue, quite possibly the last thing you might expect to be sent from their collaborative kitchen.
Opened in Denmark in 2015, you now won’t have to travel by plane to try WarPig’s beer at the actual brewpub. Thanks to the glories of global culture, this transcontinental collaborative project has canned beers available to the thirsty horde right here in Lancaster County. Kegs also are becoming available, so keep an eye out for these beers on draft.
One of the beers I tried was Lazurite.
Pop the top of one of these mostly black cans and savor the flavors inside. The can features a winged demon with a blood-splashed face, the only color on the label other than the red eye of the skeleton boar he rides. In his hand he holds a lit lantern, and behind him a sickle moon hangs in a ruinous sky.
Lazurite poured lemony gold and crystal clear with none of the haze that is such a hit these days. On top was a fluffy white head with generous lacing that persisted throughout the session of this India pale ale with a 7.5% alcohol by volume.
It smelled of juicy tropical fruits, Lemonhead candy and freshly crushed pine needles, but the flavor carried a heavy dankness, earth and grass that I didn’t get at all in the nose. I tasted vanilla, pine, pith, grapefruit and resin in Lazurite. While there was a clean malt presence, it didn’t overshadow the prominence of the hop domination in the slightest.
The other beer I sampled was Salmon Pants, although the label does not include salmon or pants. Instead, it featured a green-eyed boar with sizeable tusks, scruffy fur and saliva dripping from its mouth while frozen in mid-Watusi dance.
Called a “full flavored and hoppy lager,” Salmon Pants was a 5.3% ABV beer that poured honey gold with a thin white head and clear body.
The aroma was faint with light grainy malt, pine and honey. Its flavor was crisp and dry with a dominating pine bitterness, dank hops and a quiet honeylike sweetness lurking beneath the surface. I prefer a more malt-forward lager with noble hops, but if you enjoy light lagers and hop-forward IPAs, then you’ll definitely want one of these while mowing the lawn.
Contact Amber DeGrace with comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on Twitter at @amberdegrace.