Updated: May 1, 2014
By Brian Kaufenberg
In 1860, August Schell Brewing Company was founded, Garibaldi returned to Italy in the Second Italian War of Independence, the British Open was played for the first time, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States, and South Carolina seceded from the Union, setting the stage for the American Civil War.
In 2005, the year 89.3 The Current played its first song—Atmosphere’s “Shhh”—the Minnesota Vikings took an infamous cruise on Lake Minnetonka, Tom Cruise jumped on a couch, George W. Bush became “The Decider” in his second term as president, and Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore got married.
Despite a 145-year age difference, the two organizations are working together on a new beer and music partnership to be released this May. August Schell, the United States’ second oldest family-owned brewery and the largest brewery in Minnesota, is brewing a special co-branded beer with The Current, Minnesota’s non-commercial, member-driven radio station dedicated to bringing listeners “the best authentic new music alongside the music that inspired it,” according to its website.
“Craft beer ranks right at the top with what our audience identifies with,” said The Current’s marketing manager Matt Perkins. “We’re just really excited to be working with Schell’s. They’re homegrown and so is The Current.”
Schell’s The Current Beer is a limited edition version of the brewery’s summer seasonal Zommerfest Kölsch-style Ale, and will be available in 16oz cans at liquor stores and restaurants wherever Schell’s products can be found. A portion* of the proceeds from the beer sales will go back to The Current, an arm of the non-profit Minnesota Public Radio, to help with costs of the music programming.
Over the past nine years, The Current’s musical programming has been integral in growing Minnesota’s local music scene. Whether through the Local Music Exchange, sponsoring concerts across the state, the creation of the Local Current radio stream, or the addition of full-time Local Current blogger Andrea Swensson, The Current’s coverage of local artists has helped propel many of them into the regional and national spotlight.
The station has received high praise from its listeners, being named the Best Radio Station in the Twin Cities for nine consecutive years in the City Pages poll. The Current has also received national recognition, named the “Best Non Commercial AAA Station” for the fourth consecutive year by Friday Morning Quarterback, an industry magazine based in New Jersey.
“I’m constantly impressed that The Current is pushing the boundaries of what people expect of a public radio station,” said Perkins.
Continuing its mission to promote the best new music, The Current is organizing four concerts featuring local musicians to launch the collaboration beer and will be offering free music downloads from the artists on its website.
“Local bands and local beer are a great match,” said Jim McGuinn, program director at The Current. “We love that we can bring the two together. Through the downloads available at thecurrent.org and upcoming shows featuring these artists, we hope to continue to support our local music scene.”
The idea for a music and beer partnership had been “kicked around for a few years” before it was suggested to Schell’s, according to Matt Perkins. Perkins worked alongside The Current’s assistant program director Lindsay Kimball on a beer and music radio show called Pairings. The show explored different musical genres and what beers would make interesting pairings, ultimately planting the seed for The Current Beer.