A Brewer Born: A Third-Hand Account of the Genesis of Something We’re Pretty Sure Happened
If you want to understand the man, the myth, the legend, the Rolla Beer King, you’ll have to go back in time.
The place was Soest Road in the sleepy little hamlet of Rolla, Missouri. The year was 1995. Or at least we’re pretty sure it was…
A young, innocent, impressionable Joshua Lee Stacy, full of wide-eyed optimism about the world that lay before him was in the throes of discovery. Girls. Music. Beer. There was other stuff too, but those predominantly occupied his idle time. The rise of alternative and grunge music of the day gave him the desire to try his hand at the bass guitar. Amplifiers and effects pedals soon followed. A junkie-like obsession with gadgets and sound manipulation took over. And an endless thirst for expressing oneself with the low end became his daily devotional.
Around the same time he was falling head over heels for the raw, angsty emotion of alternative and grunge, he got his first taste of real beer. Not that fizzy yellow water many of his peers were guzzling. Real beer made with real ingredients and real care by his father. He knew he wasn’t supposed to drink dad’s beer. But who has EVER followed that timeless parent-issued dictum in the history of the world? I defy you to produce one example.
As he retells the story, which I am now relating third-hand (which ensures complete and incontestable accuracy), that first sip of Belgian-style Dubbel ale, brewed by Papa Stacy, had a profound and instant impact on him. The carbonation tickled his tongue, the yeast rattled his brain, and the malt warmed his belly. His hair instantly grew thicker, his eyes brightened, and he now stood approximately one foot taller. His voice dropped one full octave and his once slinky gate became a true baller swag. The heavens opened up, shining a light down on the chosen one, who would carry forward the blessing of beer for the entire world to taste. He spent the rest of the day in a deep, trance-like meditation, contemplating the implications for what would become his life’s calling. One day he would spread the gospel of beer far and wide, forsaking all other vocations and creeds. And the world would be a better place for his sacrifice. He slept the most peaceful dreamless sleep of his life that night. His mind blissfully clear. His destiny manifest.
The following morning he awoke focused and refreshed. While preparing for the day he paused for a moment, grateful for the metaphysical transformation that had taken place with one sip of his father’s magical elixir. He then donned a well-worn flannel shirt and the coolest denim jacket you’ve ever seen in your life, popped the collar, slung his bass guitar over his back – true-rock style – got behind the wheel of his bitchin’ Chevy Corsica, cranked the volume to 11 and blasted “Thunder Kiss ‘65” by White Zombie. Despite the low-grade factory speakers, which caused many crackles, pops and distortions in the playback, he confidently rocked on.
Yes, life was good. And it was all due to Mr. Stacy’s homebrew religious conversion. He was no longer just a beer lover. He had become … something more. His newfound sense of purpose did much more than provide him a roadmap for the frothy path that lay ahead of him. His supreme confidence propelled him to new personal and extracurricular heights. Within mere weeks of his revelation, he led the Rolla High School Bulldog football AND soccer teams to become state champions. He followed these feats by being crowned Homecoming King, before graduating Valedictorian, and being voted by his classmates as “Most Likely to Brew Beer and Kick Ass.” Yearbooks had never breathed life into a prophecy the way Rolla High’s did. And it never did again. His was indeed the last of the great yearbook prophecies.
Upon hearing of the young man’s great successes, he even received an unprecedented congratulatory call from then President Bill Clinton. To this day Mr. Stacy still refuses to recount the intimate hour-long conversation they had, but we do know this: within a matter of minutes after hanging up the phone, the President issued a declaration that the official adult beverage of the White House would no longer be Arkansas mountain hooch, but delicious craft beer.
Mom and Pop were indeed proud. Who knew that this sandy-haired little scamp would achieve such great heights from such humble beginnings? Deep down, they always knew. They always knew.
Once he had learned all the known facts in the world, he went on to form a multi-platinum selling post-progressive-punk act, which was named “Sneath” for obvious reasons. Infamous for his onstage antics, borderline-vulgar hip thrusts, and Rhodes Scholar-turned bad boy attitude, he was instrumental in crafting Billboard Chart topping hits, such as “Balling Degrees,” “Don’t Bogart the Yeast,” and “Lauter Tun Junk Smash,” featured on Sneath’s breakout EP, “Twisted Fits in the Agitarium.” Despite a short stint in a rehabilitation clinic for people whose body chemistry had exceeded safe water to malt ratios, it wasn’t the excesses that brought him down, but the disintegration of his musical baby.
The other members, fed up with playing second fiddle in the press while Mr. Stacy received all artistic credit, abandoned their leader in middle of their, “Guns, Grist, and Gravy” world tour, resulting in Mr. Stacy’s little-heard solo release, “Stirrin’ My Own Mash,” months later. The departure from the signature thumping bass-lines of Sneath to the novice level banjo playing of “Mash” proved to be a bridge too far for hardcore fans and he was quickly dropped by the record label. It is the one known mistake that he has ever, or will ever make in his kissed-by-the-angels existence. Like Icarus, he flew to close to the sun on banjo strings and fruity esters, becoming light-struck and skunky, before falling back to earth in a billowy cloud of bung dust … poof …
After slipping into reclusion due to the disaster that “Stirrin’ My Own Mash” proved to be, he received a knock on the door from a former bandmate and long-time friend. Aghast at the dumpster fire of a man Mr. Stacy had become, his friend pulled him from the wreckage of months-old Ben & Jerry’s cartons that completely littered the living room floor. He told Mr. Stacy he had ten minutes to change out of his adult onesie pajamas and into something respectable.
They hopped into the car and drove back to the old house on Soest Road. Weeping openly like a child, Mr. Stacy lifted the garage door to reveal his dad’s old homebrew set up, covered in dust and cobwebs. His friend nodded knowingly and said, “It’s time.” Mr. Stacy then grabbed a rag from the tool bench and began to clean up the little homebrew system that had been lost to the ages to commence brewing once more.
Of course good beer is never brewed without good music. So Mr. Stacy’s friend plugged in the otherworldly boombox in the corner, opened the compact disc player and pressed play. No, it wasn’t a Sneath record. It was something of his bandmates own design – a playlist that cut Mr. Stacy to the quick. As the heavy distorted guitar of White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ‘65” permeated the air, another small tear came to Mr. Stacy’s eye. With tender loving care, the two men brought the system back to life with water, fire, grain, hops, air, and that precious, precious yeast. That day, they brewed the most glorious Belgian-style Dubbel ever brewed on a tiny system in a dusty American garage. All the while ‘90s jam after ‘90s jam – most of them inspiration for Mr. Stacy’s personal style of playing – filled the room and it is believed added a little magic to the brew kettles. That day, they brewed only for themselves and no one else. But they knew in due time they would go forth into the world and spread their love of beer across the land without pretense. And it was so.
Here we present this open, musical love letter to 1995, awesome songs, cool bass lines, and flimflam origin stories everywhere. And of course to Mr. Stacy.
As always, be safe, be responsible and be kind to each other. A friend, a pint, a session, (and music) is what it’s all about. Cheers!
White Zombie – Thunder Kiss ’65
Primus – Southbound Pachyderm
Beastie Boys – Root Down
Sublime – 40oz to Freedom
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Walkabout
Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun
Weezer – Say It Ain’t So
Sponge – Molly
Pearl Jam – Not For You
NIN – Sanctified
Tool – Sober
Marilyn Manson – I Put a Spell On You
Pantera – This Love
Filter – Hey Man Nice Shot (Nickel Bag Remix)
Smashing Pumpkins – Bullet with Butterfly Wings
The Beatles – Free As a Bird
Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night?