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Published: 2011/06/20
by Amy Jacques

Kyle Hollingsworth’s Latest Hoopla

Photo by Brian Spady

Kyle Hollingsworth, keyboardist for The String Cheese Incident, presented his new Hoopla Pale Ale at the Bruru Experience in the Broo’ers Festival section of Centeroo on Saturday at Bonnaroo. Hollingsworth, an avid home brewer, crafted this beer with help from the folks at Boulder Beer Company in Colorado and calls this new brew “the perfect beer for watching live music.” Later on Saturday the String Cheese Incident performed at the Which Tent. This marked the fourth time that the band had played Bonnaroo, including the very first festival in 2002.

Here is an expanded version of the conversation with Hollingsworth, which originally ran in the Bonnaroo Beacon.

Amy Jacques: How is your new Hoopla Pale Ale different from your Hoppingsworth IPA—and was it a similar creation process for you?

Kyle Hollingsworth: The creation process was very similar. The brewers and I discussed a style of beer we wanted to make. With Hoppingsworth, I wanted a super hoppy ale. But with Hoopla, when I got together with the Boulder Beer people, I was looking for something that would be more of a festival drinking pale ale.

We have a new name for it. Instead of an IPA; it’s an FPA, which is a Festival Pale Ale. I was thinking, “Bonnaroo, a hot summer day in Tennessee, 110 degrees, 95 degrees, what do I want to drink?” I wouldn’t necessarily want to drink Hoppingsworth there; I wanted something lighter with a little bit of hop attitude. So Hoopla is a festival pale ale made to be enjoyed on hot summer days at festivals—a lightly hopped pale ale.

AJ: During one of our talks last year, you told me that you approached brewing and music in a similar way—sort of an improvisational way—by throwing a lot of things in the pot. Can you expand on that a little, and does this still hold true today with the creation of this beer?

KH: For me, the process of brewing and the process of creating live music both live in a spontaneous world where anything can happen. When you’re brewing a beer, at the last minute, you can throw in some premium style—you can make the beer great, or you can make the beer really bad, but it’s all about jumping in that moment. In the same way, I’m taking a solo and I’m just kind of going for it, and you never know how it’s going to turn out. It could be the best beer of your life or the worst—you’re taking that chance. And, then, one more analogy is musically, a beer should be balanced—that’s what we would say. The taste of the beer should be balanced, that means specifically not sticking out too much, having all the flavors. In the same way, I feel like with music, when you listen to a live show—even if it’s the best Warren Haynes solo in the world, you wouldn’t want him to be necessarily loudest or louder than everything else that’s going on. So you have to find the right balance between your mix when you’re playing music, and how you interpret what other people are playing, and as well the same thing with beer, in the final taste.

AJ: And you’re going to be taking this beer out on the road, and you’re calling this the Bruru Experience?

KH: Exactly, but the Bruru Experience is much wider than just Hoopla. It’s a discussion of beer, a discussion on the process of making beer—different styles, kind of like a Brewing 101, the purpose of the Bruru Experience is to turn people on to home brewing, and also the craft beer industry.

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