Sunset Dervish Saison

(1 customer review)

A balanced farmhouse ale with complex malt flavors and a kiss of citrus!
  • Grain bill:  Pilsner, Wheat, Carafa III, Acidulated Malt
  • Hops:  Styrian Goldings, Saaz, Sorachi Ace
  • Yeast:  White Labs WLP566 Belgian Saison, Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale
  • Secret ingredients:  Honey, Coriander Seed, Pink Peppercorn, Yuzu Extract
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Origin Story:

This one is for Howard Mordoh, aka LA Rocker, aka The Dancing Man of LA.

Howard and Charo

Howard enjoys Charo at the Hollywood Bowl

I first saw Howard at the Hollywood Bowl at the KCRW World Music Festival, maybe in 2012.  Lauren and I get a box for the festival every summer.  In a box closer to the stage and to the right of us, a man who looked a little like a tall Wolf Blitzer popped up and started dancing.  Not just dancing, but whirling.  Throwing one hand on top of his head, one hand on his belly and doing a tight spin.  He’d stop on a dime, get back into the groove, boogie a bit, and do it again.  He was obviously having more fun than anybody else at the Bowl, and he was sharing this fun—he would work the crowd, find other like-minded folks, and get them moving too.  It was infectious.

Coachella 2016

Coachella 2016

I saw this guy at every show at the Hollywood Bowl that year.  Then I saw him at the David Byrne / St. Vincent concert at the Greek Theatre.  Then I saw him at a Todd Rundgren show at the Saban.  Then I saw him at the Magnetic Fields at UCLA.  Then I saw him at Coachella.  It got ridiculous when I saw him in the opening credits of Shut Up And Play The Hits, the film documenting LCD Soundsystem’s farewell shows at Madison Square Garden.

I eventually struck up a conversation with him at Coachella one year and told him I was a big fan of his work.  I learned that his name was Howard, he was a retired laboratory scientist, his Facebook handle was LA Rocker, and he went to as many concerts as he possibly could.  We became friends on Facebook, traded birthday greetings, and chatted occasionally at shows.

The lockdown of 2020/21 has been rough for so many reasons, the live music dry spell among them.  On 18 July 2021 I went to my first concert in 1 1/2 years—Kamasi Washington and Earl Sweatshirt at the Hollywood Bowl.  I prayed that I would see Howard at the show, and sure enough he was there, spinning up a storm.  Then a couple of weeks later at Reggae Night.  Then at King Crimson at the Greek….

Howard and Eric 2021

Hollywood Bowl 2021

Around the same time, my friend Julie alerted me to a short documentary that PBS did on Howard.  This film isn’t about a local curiosity.  It’s about the power of live music to move you; the joy in following your own truth; the struggle of making it through this time of social isolation; and the anticipation of this monaural grey concrete shell cracking open and releasing us all back into a sensurround, technicolor world.

It’s probably obvious by now that Howard’s kind of my hero: he loves music—chases music—and isn’t afraid to express his full self.  I realized he deserved a beer in his honor.  It would have to be an easy summer drinker with some definite funk:  a saison.  Build some additional complexity to the story by triple-decocting the mash—that is, boiling it to apply the Maillard reaction to the malt.  Pink peppercorn for spice and yuzu for an exotic citrus tang.

In my humble opinion, this is one of the best beers I’ve brewed.  I know that Howard’s not really a beer drinker, but I believe it does him justice. Here’s to you, Howard!

As I was in the process of getting Howard’s permission to portray him on the label, he alerted me to Jen Fodor’s Front Row—a song about him, with a video starring him.  So I’m not the first person to have been inspired by Howard to create.  I’m sure I won’t be the last. 

Music Pairing:

Princeton Record Exchange

The Princeton Record Exchange

In a 2005 interview with the magazine The Wire, James Murphy said “I grew up in basically a small farm town [in southern New Jersey], and if it wasn’t for the Princeton Record Exchange, I might as well have grown up in the fuckin’ armpit of the world.  The Record Exchange saved my life.”  This is when I first sensed he was a fellow traveller—I can’t count the number of hours I spent crawling the aisles of the PRX thumbing through dusty LPs and used CDs.  “Losing My Edge” is the battle hymn of the cratedigger, speaking directly to every Gen Xer who has ever used their music collection as a life raft.

I wasn’t entirely taken with LCD Soundsystem; while “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” is just about perfect, on a lot on the album the spot-the-influence game overwhelms the songwriting.  On Sound of Silver, Murphy has gotten the upper hand—like “Losing My Edge”, the songs speak clearly to the emotions and anxieties of impending middle age while incorporating all the disco, punk, no-wave, and experimental sounds that bounce around the hipster subconscious.


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1 review for Sunset Dervish Saison

  1. MaxBanta

    I’ve only recently started drinking saisons and Sunset Dervish was one of the most exciting I’ve tapped into yet. It’s a sweet mouthful of fantastic fruity flavor that had every person at my beer tasting get together asking… “WOAH! Which one is this?!” It was perfect for the warm Los Angeles afternoon we found ourselves drinking it in. Light, fruity, and oh so delicious. Something about it felt familiar too. There was a light peppery kick that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I checked out the label… Pink peppercorn. The very tree that offered us shade that wonderful afternoon.

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