Dave Mustaine, the godfather of the modern thrash metal movement, is somewhat of a Renaissance man. The mastermind behind Megadeth, still going strong after 33 years, is revered as a guitar hero and brilliant songwriter. In addition to his unwavering devotion to his craft, he is also a wine maker, author and Grammy nominee. Now there’s a new title to add to Mustaine’s arsenal—beer collaborator.
Mustaine’s roots on the metal scene started as an early member of a fledgling garage band known as Metallica. Mustaine’s not-so-amicable split fueled the formation of his own metal project known as Megadeth, which would help redefine the metal movement. Known to the metal allegiance as one of the “Big Four” (along with Anthrax, Slayer and his ex-bandmates Metallica), Megadeth burst onto the scene in 1983 and hasn’t looked back since. As many of the bands of his time looked up to classic rockers Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or AC/DC for inspiration, many metal bands of today pay homage to Megadeth for inspiring them toward their musical destinies.
Megadeth’s latest full length release, “Dystopia,” has been met with stellar reviews. Debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, it was the band’s highest-charting album since 1992’s “Countdown to Extinction.” The release introduces new members Kiko Loureiro (guitar, formerly of Angra) and Chris Adler (drums, on loan from Lamb of God). The title track has received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.
Yet it was a trip back to 1994’s critically acclaimed masterpiece, “Youthanasia,” that spawned the idea for Mustaine’s newest project, a beer called A Tout Le Monde. Named after a hit single from the “Youthanasia” album, the song was a departure from the traditional sound of thundering double kick drums, amps on 11 and Mustaine’s angry “through-the-teeth” vocals. A Tout Le Monde featured beautiful melodies, subdued, layered guitars and a thought-provoking, melancholy theme. Similarly, Mustaine’s new beer, a saison, is also a departure from the dark and heavy Megadeth brand, yet, like the song, fits perfectly within its machine.
Partnering with esteemed brewery Unibroue of Chambly, Quebec, Canada, this creative partnership has produced an incredibly drinkable masterpiece that is bound to have mass appeal to casual consumers and beer diehards alike. Recently, Mustaine and Unibroue’s Brewmaster, Jerry Vietz, visited Phoenix to discuss this true partnership.
Every aspect of the process from creative idea to final execution was a partnership and a family endeavor between the two camps.
“My family and Jerry’s family are all invested in this beer,” Mustaine says. “Our kids were giving their input on label design while Jerry and I were fine tuning the flavor profile.”
Mustaine chalks up the partnership to fate.
“We were playing a huge concert in Canada, for over 80,000 people,” he says. “It was the debut of two of our new members. And as luck would have it, I missed the soundcheck before the show.”
Despite the nerves, pressure and misfortunes prior to the show, it went off without a hitch. Afterward, Mustaine was introduced Vietz through a mutual acquaintance and a friendship was immediately born. According to Vietz, they were almost finishing each other’s sentences like friends of many years. There was an immediate respect and comfort factor between the two parties.
Mustaine told Vietz of his quest to create a Megadeth branded beer, and Vietz immediately expressed interest in the endeavor. One agreement made early on was that this was not just going to be a marketing department project, Mustaine insisted on being involved in every stage, especially product development.
“I don’t want to put my name on anything that doesn’t live up to the quality I believe it should have,” Mustaine says.
Vietz and Mustaine started the process by sampling the entire Unibroue lineup to gauge Mustaine’s palate and figure out which direction to take the beer. Mustaine was especially impressed with a beer known as Ephemere. There were flavor and aroma profiles present that appealed to him but he wanted to make sure to create a beer that reflected the Megadeth brand, as well.
Vietz used his extensive knowledge of recipe formulation and combined just the right malt, hop varietals and the perfect yeast strain to create the flavor profile that Mustaine was seeking. The end resulting saison (the French word for season) is an extremely drinkable, low alcohol 4.5% ABV thirst quencher packed with flavor, loaded with complexity yet balanced and masterfully crafted. And most importantly, as Vietz stated, “It was a beer brewed upon friendship.”
In fact, before the final product was finalized, Vietz presented Mustaine with two versions of the same beer, and the second version was dry hopped with the very popular Citra hop. Dry hopping with Citra was the magic that tied the project together, even though dry hopping is nontraditional for the saison style. The dry-hopping regimen gave the beer complexity, without showcasing the hops or any other single ingredient for that matter. Unibroue prides itself on producing quality Belgian-style ales, and the key to a great Belgian ale is always the balance. A Tout Le Monde is the definition of balance.
Pouring a hazy yellow orange with an everlasting head consisting of fine, creamy bubbles, clean notes of citrus and light spice emerge. Malt flavors of fresh baked bread meet the hops in perfect harmony. Saisons, by nature, are highly attenuated beers, meaning they are fully fermented making them light on the palate. High carbonation makes the beer extremely effervescent. As the beer flows through the palate, different flavors from the yeast, malt and hops combine to create a new, unified flavor that finishes clean and satisfying. This beer can be paired with virtually any entree due to its versatility, but will nicely accompany chicken shawarma, pad Thai, fried calamari or a salad doused with lemon vinaigrette.
An ever-so-slight, pleasant tartness derived from the yeast acts as an additional palate cleanser making each bite of food taste like the first and making each sip lead anticipatorily to the next. At 4.5% ABV, this beer does not overpower its food companion and can be consumed in quantity. Simply put, this beer is a world-class example of a beer style that is often underappreciated and one that takes a certain level of expertise to produce properly. The heavy metal crowd and the beer geeks of the world would love and appreciate this beer even if Mustaine had nothing to do with it. The fact that he was intricately involved just makes the story that much more special.
Even the finished artwork on the bottle was a bit of a collaboration. Although it was ultimately the team at Unibroue that created the final packaging consistent with the rest of their respected lineup, front and center is Megadeth’s renowned mascot, Vic Rattlehead, reminding consumers that Mustaine is the driving force behind this beer.
Mustaine explains why he called it A Tout Le Monde; and why brew a saison.
“Saison is about refreshment and enjoyment,” he says.
He knew fans would be consuming these beers at their shows and felt it was important to create a beer that wouldn’t put people over the edge.
“I don’t want anything to happen to my people,” Mustaine says.
Vietz interjected that the flavor profiles they were discussing through the product formulation stage lent themselves toward the saison style more than any other style of beer. And, because Unibroue is known for crafting fine Belgian-style ales, producing a saison stayed consistent with Unibroue’s strength.
Megadeth didn’t angle for something darker and heavier, like its music, Vietz explains.
“We wanted to appeal to the masses and we felt that a darker, heavier beer wouldn’t achieve that. And more importantly, it was a privilege to create a beer for Dave’s personal taste.”
The speed and intensity of Megadeth’s music belies Mustaine’s deeply spiritual and introspective nature, as when he explains the meaning behind A Tout Le Monde. He says it is about getting the chance to say just one final thing to someone. The song effectively describes someone saying goodbye from beyond. The chorus of the song is as follows: (In French, with English translation in parentheses):
A tout le monde (To everyone)
A tout mes amis (To all my friends)
Je vois aime (I love you)
Je dois partir (I must leave)
This successful venture into the alcohol business is not Mustaine’s first. In 2014, living in California and getting to know local wineries of the area, Mustaine and his wife, Pamela, had the idea to create Mustaine Vineyards. The idea stemmed from a guest appearance Mustaine was going to make with the San Diego Symphony. Knowing that his metal crowd and the sophisticated symphony crowd were two different animals, Dave wanted to create, in his words, a “social lubricant,” to unify the two groups. Because of that event his first wine was born, called “Symphony Interrupted.”
Later, Mustaine Vineyards partnered with South Coast Winery of Temecula to produce three other wines, Kingmaker Super Tuscan Blend, Hook in Mouth Red Blend and Mustaine’s favorite, Blood of Heroes Syrah, all of which are available.
Recently relocating to Nashville, Mustaine wanted to be closer to his daughter Electra who is active in the country music business. The one prerequisite? The home had to come with a wine cellar, which he has filled with Mustaine Vineyards wine. And if there’s a refrigerator in that basement, you can bet it is stocked with A Tout Le Monde Saison. Mustaine is personally invested and 100% behind it. With A Tout Le Monde, there is no doubt that he loves this beer like an extended member of the family.
For more information, visit megadethbeer.com.