Raise a Historically Accurate Glass to Bach, Beethoven and Brahms

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The event organizers have done their homework to cross-reference the composers’ location, time period and alcohol preferences. Photo credit: Flickr/Maëlick


Classical music devotees have long been trying to break the “stuffy and privileged” stereotype with varying degrees of success. But Matt Abramovitz, Program Director at WQXR, may have cracked the code: On Friday, June 19, he’s adding beer to the “three big Bs” of classical music by hosting an evening of classical jams that features the work of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Buy your tickets here.

“The concept of the event is to pair classical music with craft beers of that era and time,” he explains. And he definitely did his homework, cross-referencing the composers’ location, time period and alcohol preferences. J.S. Bach was working in the German town of Leipzig when Gose was gaining popularity, and he was a known beer drinker. “We don’t have a letter that says ‘Gosh, I love Gose,’ signed by J.S. Bach,” Abramovitz admits, but in all likelihood, the legendary composer drank a room temperature version of the brew. Audience members will be sampling a Gose imported from Leipzig alongside craft beers brewed specially for the event.

Travis Kauffman of Carroll Gardens’ Folksbier will brew a Kolsch inspired by the beers of 19th-century Cologne and Bonn, Beethoven’s birthplace. The brew will be accompanied by a performance from pianist Jing Li and violinist Sage Cole  of movement from Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, a piece which inspired a Tolstoy novella of the same name.

The folks at Bridge and Tunnel Brewery in Queens have drawn their inspiration from the work of Johannes Brahms, a Hamburg native active in the mid-late 1800s. They’ll be pouring a Dunkelweizen and a Berliner Weisse as audience members learn the history of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture. The composer was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Breslau and wrote the piece in 1880 as a thank you. The catch? He cheekily wove several popular drinking songs into the fabric of the piece, and the hosts will be conducting audience members in a rendition of one of the tunes.

Tickets include a four-ounce pour of each beer and admission to the event, which is being held at The Greene Space. Looking for other ways to combine beer and classical music this summer? Check out Classical Revolution, which brings small chamber groups to informal venues, the Metropolitan Opera’s free summer recitals in parks and high definition performance screenings in movie theaters nationwide and this guide for pairing beer and music in the comfort of your own home.

Claire Brown

Claire is the Associate Digital Editor at Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. When she's not writing about food, she can often be found leading tours at the Union Square Greenmarket.

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