Just in time for the holidays, here’s another super-cool Whiskeytown token that might be even rarer than the old Strangers Almanac whiskey bottles — Whiskeytown Beer, the entire 120-bottle run of which might already be sold out by the time you read this. It’s the work of Chapel Hill’s Starpoint Brewery, brewed by Tim Harper and Chris Baker. And if the name Tim Harper rings a bell, it should.
Long before he ever started brewing beer, Tim was an old studio hand in North Carolina for a couple of decades. Whiskeytown figures prominently on his resume. Tim engineered and Chris Stamey produced the 1996 “Baseball Park Sessions” that got Whiskeytown its deal with Outpost Records, and those two also oversaw the remix of Whiskeytown’s Faithless Street album that was reissued in 1998.
The road to Whiskeytown Beer started a few months back when Baker come up with a beer recipe involving whiskey, wood, chocolate and coffee, and enlisted Harper to brew it at at his brewery. First came the beer, then came the name.
“Nobody could come up with one,” said Tim. “I’d already started naming beers for bands I’ve worked with over the years, like a ’74-’75 Oktoberfest for the Connells. Sooner or later, I’ll do a Let’s Active beer. Stamey-Holsapple, I don’t know how I’ll work that out. But anyway, ‘Whiskeytown’ came to me in a flash one night for this one because of the whiskey barrels. We used Jack Daniels barrels to brew it.”
Before printing up the label, Tim got approval from multiple sources in Whiskeytown’s orbit, including the photographer who took the picture of Ryan (also seen on Whiskeytown’s Wikipedia entry), Caitlin Cary, Skillet Gilmore, lawyer Josh Grier — and yes, Ryan himself.
“What Ryan said was, ‘Tim, that sounds awesome,'” Tim said with a laugh. “And we found the photographer, got his approval, too. Caitlin and Skillet and Josh, even though Josh informed me that Whiskeytown did not have a trademark for food and beverage. So I didn’t even have to ask him, but I thought it’d be rude if I didn’t. Anyway, I asked everybody and they all said yes.”
Once he was done brewing, Tim bottled 10 cases to sell and put the rest into draft kegs. Those 120 bottles are going fast, but fear not: More is on the way.
“I’m working on a new batch,” Tim says. “It should be available in a couple of months, late February or early March.”