The Six Most Metal Breweries on What Makes Beer “Metal” and Which Breweries on TapRm Rock

Photo by Tom Starkweather 

Through events, creative videos, collaboration beers, and of course, the TV pilot at the center of its mission, The Six Most Metal Breweries has been shining a light on just how big the overlap is in the Venn diagram of heavy metal and craft beer. Adam Zuniga, Derek Ingber, and Jeremy Batchelor join forces of beer expertise, heavy metal passion, and TV production, and the result celebrates the vibrant intersection of these two scenes, from heavy metal-inspired breweries to metal bars with killer beer lists. As we see more and more crossover between hops and headbanging, from KCBC’s can art to SingleCut releasing IPAs called things like “Metäl!,” we decided to sit down with Adam and find out more about The Six Most Metal Breweries, just what makes a beer metal, and what beers fit the bill on TapRm. 

Can you tell us all about The Six Most Metal Breweries?

Adam: The Six Most Metal Breweries is a travel series at the crossroads of beer and metal, where craft beer and heavy metal meet. It all started for me in a background doing sales and marketing in the New York City beer scene. Six Most Metal Breweries as a concept began in the way that all great bands could or should or would begin: at a show. I met my partners in beer and metal, Derek Ingber and Jeremy Batchelor, originally at New York City Beer Week while they were there filming the festival, and we reconnected later at a Megadeth show at Saint Vitus Bar. New York City is the biggest little town in the world and there’s a community for everyone to plug into once you look for it. Out of this shared interest and shared passion, we went on to film a short film about beer turning people into zombies, called Bierleichen Das Movie, inspired by a bar in Ridgewood, Queens, called Bierleichen. 

The idea of doing a travel series and a lifestyle series continuing this theme of craft beer and heavy metal just naturally evolved into The Six Most Metal Breweries. So we partnered with Kings County Brewers Collective in Bushwick, knowing one of their owners and founders, Tony Bellis was a hop head and a metalhead. From there we developed Morbid Hour Black Pilsner and decided to launch it at Saint Vitus, the heavy and hollowed institution in Greenpoint. And we basically just filmed the beer every step of the way, from inception to execution, and incorporated lifestyle elements by bringing in heavy metal yoga by Saskia Thode who runs Metal Yoga Bones. We put together a killer soundtrack, and we did the six most metal bars around New York City, and this idea of the six came from, well, if we are invested in everything that’s the most metal, let’s do everything in the context of six. So, six episodes per season, the six most metal bars in each city and state, and a custom six-pack for each season to wash it all down. 


 Photo by Tom Starkweather

6MMB won Best Pilot at the 2021 New York TV Festival, which is rad. What’s next for the pilot?

Adam: We set out to make a travel series, a fully immersive lifestyle series, and the pilot is about a 25-minute run time that just dives into heavy metal culture, centered specifically in Brooklyn. It launched initially on Banger Films, on their YouTube channel. As of this year, we took the Best Pilot award at the New York City TV Festival, and it was just accepted into NewFilmmakers New York, where it will be screening this summer. At our website, there’s a page now where you can watch the pilot start to finish. We are shopping it around--what makes The Six Most Metal Breweries interesting and unique is it puts the brewery first. It is all centered around the brewery, but we also like to bring in a band to work with and we like to delve into the greater culture that is around that brewery. We like to include the six most metal bars, and above all, bring in a greater lifestyle element, be it heavy metal workouts or yoga or heavy metal food--wherever heavy metal manifests itself, we’re into.


Photo by Tom Starkweather  

What about 6MMB as a whole--what do you see for the future of the project, especially as maybe the world starts to spin again and we can look forward to the return of events, concerts, festivals, and travel?

Adam: Obviously it’s been a hard year for us all, and everyone’s had to get crafty. Something like beer as well as live music, these are very social industries. They’re dependent on human interaction, they’re dependent on just being able to communicate with fans and enthusiasts, and they’re so vital to social fabric of our society, alcohol and music in large. Being kind of separated from those two things and not being able to connect on that level in person has been really trying. I am incredibly optimistic that we have a “roaring 2020s” ahead. I think people are thirstier than ever, I think they are hungrier for the live experience, and for personal interaction. 

I think there’s also going to be a big need for content, because this shut down production in film and television, as well. I’m really optimistic whether it’s through maybe more traditional channels or through current streaming services that at the very least we can get The Six Most Metal Breweries picked up as the six [episodes] for a lower investment but ideally with a maximum return, and we can take off and do this across the rest of the country. 


 Photo by Tom Starkweather 

Let’s talk about Morbid Hour. How did this beer come into fruition, and what’s the story behind its style, flavor profile, and name?

Adam: The pilot is 666% centered around Morbid Hour. We knew we wanted to do something a little untraditional, and something that also suited the taste of Saint Vitus Bar. They’re not big IPA guys, and I think a lot of what’s happening in craft beer right now, it can be a turn-off for consumers. It’s fun once but then they assume it’s all IPAs, it’s all like double dry-hopped, double-everything, heavy-hitting IPAs. We wanted to do something to fit the Saint Vitus crew and their happy hour is of course “morbid hour”--you can’t have a happy hour at this heavy metal bar in Brooklyn, you gotta’ have a morbid hour

So, we took that name, and I started looking into schwarzbiers and the history of dark lagers, black lagers, and I realized going further back into German beer history it’s also called black pilsner, which I thought would be really novel for the new American craft beer market. So, we had our name, we had our style, and KCBC honed it in at 4.666% alcohol. We developed really cool label art by Earl Holloway, which was in the spirit of both Saint Vitus Bar as kind of its morbid interior, as well as the comic-book, graphic aesthetic that KCBC does on all their labels. We made the beer, we packaged it, we launched it both at KCBC in their taproom and at Saint Vitus, and they’ve continued to brew the beer yearly ever since. It marks the winter solstice for them so it’s this great pagan ritual. 

Obviously I’m biased, but it’s become a favorite style of mine. You can drink it cold and fast, and it’s truly refreshing. You can sip and savor and let it warm up a bit and really appreciate the depth of malt character. It’s infinitely versatile with food pairing, you can go sweet or savory with it. Or, again, it stands on its own as a session beer at 4.666%. Hugely important to us was making a beer that you could have one or two or six of at Saint Vitus during a show.


 Photo by Tom Starkweather 

So, the big question: what does makes a beer metal?

Adam: Back in the day--you know, you can trace this concept back to “Brewtal Truth,” [a column] in Decibel Magazine, which was a huge inspiration for us--the idea was that metal went side by side with “extreme.” So, the concept was, okay, for a beer to be “metal,” it has to be big, it has to be boozy, it has to be high-alcohol. And there is of course still truth to that, and there are breweries like Adroit Theory, like Nightmare, that I think absolutely fly the flag for big beer, boozy beer, aggressive beer, and that is a big part of heavy metal beer culture. But recently, heavy metal-inspired breweries, say, within the last five years and ones that continue to open, they’re showing it’s not just about the booze, it’s about bringing the shared DIY ethic or passion that you find in bands to the brewhouse. These are artists in their own right who maybe played in a band and went on to translate that into a career in beer, or maybe never played in a band and are living out that fantasy now by making beer, and they’re bringing that DIY ethic and passion to their recipe formation, to their name, to their label art, to all the aesthetics around the beer. They’re proving it doesn’t have to be 14%, it can be, like, 4.666%. It can easily be drinkable and sessionable, so long as the metal graphic element, the attitude and the aesthetic are all there. 

Last but not least, if you were to ask me, personally, I think metal is a commitment to quality. It’s hard music to play, it’s hard music to perform, and I think brewers inspired by that kind of music and that level of talent, they’re bringing it to their beer and executing some of the highest quality beer in the market. So for me, personally and professionally, it is a commitment to quality; it represents some of the best craft beer commercially available. And I think for the brewers making it, it is their passion, it is their aesthetic, and it is that same DIY element that’s been guiding craft beer since the beginning, but taking some of the hippie out of it [laughs] and putting some of the headbanger into it.


Photo by Tom Starkweather  

What are your picks for the six most metal breweries on TapRm right now? And what metal songs or albums would you pair them with?


Industrial Arts Brewing Company 

Music pairing: For all its “tool”-themed beers, pair with TOOL anything, and if you don't think TOOL is metal, think again.

OEC Brewing (Featuring the Coolship Lager, 5.2% ABV)

Music pairing: The guitar styling and shredding of Tony Pellino, brewer and headbanger at OEC.

3 Floyds Brewing Co. (Featuring the Gumballhead Head Wheat, 5.6% ABV)

Music pairing: "Waiting In Line" first, second and third stanza by Trappist, because not having to wait in line for 3 Floyds anymore is most metal.

SingleCut Beersmiths 

Music pairing: SingleCut does everything from classic rock to modern metal, and have named beers with references like the Weird & Gilly IPA for Bowie's heaviest album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Kings County Brewers Collective 

Music pairing: KCBC’s rotating selection like Straphanger Rice Lager saves the day until KCBC's next batch of Morbid Hour Black Pilsner, for now wet your whistle with "Morbid Tales" by Celtic Frost

Surly Brewing (Featuring the Abrasive Double IPA, 9.2% ABV)

Music pairing: “Slaughterhouse" by Powermad - the brainchild of guitarist and former Surly brewer Todd Haug--featured in "Wild At Heart" by David Lynch.

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