Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Van Halen “Diver Down” vs. Narrows Brewing Diver Down IPA

Ron Swarner

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They both carry the scuba diver down flag on their frontsides. They both had frontman changes. They both have tasty licks. But between Van Halen’s “Diver Down” album and Narrows Brewing‘s Diver Down IPA, who can truly claim they rule the red with a white stripe from the upper left corner to the lower right corner?

>>> Born On Date

VAN HALEN: Their fifth album, 1982′s “Diver Down,” turned 33 years April 14, 2015. As a hastily-recorded collection featuring only four full-length original songs, this record should by all rights be a disaster. Instead, it’s just about the most fun thing you can play at your next summer picnic.

NARROWS BREWING: Brewed to celebrate the opening of the Chambers Bay Whole Foods Market in University Place, Narrows Brewing head brewer Mike Davis released the Diver Down IPA May 5, two days before the official opening of the grocery store. It’s just about the tastiest beer you can drink at your next summer picnic.

Edge: Age before beauty … the album wins this one.

diver-down-at Narrows Brewing
The Diver Down IPA had more thought behind its creation. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

>>> Behind the flag

VAN HALEN: Lead singer David Lee Roth convinced the band to release a cover of Roy Orbison’s “(Oh) Pretty Woman” as a time-buying, stand-alone single. The track became a sudden hit, and Warner Brothers pressured the band to record an accompanying record … and fast. Understandably short on new material, Van Halen whipped together a 31 minute hodge-podge featuring five cover songs (including their brief album-closing take on Dale Evans’ “Happy Trails”), three short Eddie Van Halen-showcasing instrumentals and just four full-length original songs.

NARROWS BREWING: The Diver Down IPA has both American and British malted barley for the base malts, with a roasted barley that adds some color and a hint of raisins and fruit. A strong malt backbones provides balance to the up front hop presence. Deep copper in color, and a nice “C-Hops” aroma. Dry hopped with Cascade and Centennial hops.

Edge: The Diver Down IPA had more thought behind its creation.

>>> Alcohol Level

VAN HALEN: No alcohol, absolutely no alcohol allowed backstage, guitarist Eddie Van Halen is done with alcohol. “It’s like, God gave me one big bottle and I drank it all. I’m done,” he told Esquire magazine.

NARROWS BREWING: Diver Down IPA rings in at 5.6 percent alcohol by volume.

Edge: This Facebook page is about beer. Edge goes to Narrows Brewing.

>>> The Future

VAN HALEN: Last month Van Halen re-emerged after nearly two years in hibernation and performed live in Hollywood on the neon-washed set of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” So how did Roth and the three Van Halens – Eddie, Alex and the band’s newest member, Eddie’s son Wolfie – do in selling America on Van Halen as a live act in 2015? Roth’s shorn brown hair makes him look more like an accountant than a rock star. The common wisdom seems to be that while Van Halen is still an instrumental powerhouse, and that Eddie may be playing better than he’s played in two decades, Roth has lost it as a live vocalist.

NARROWS BREWING: The Tacoma brewery will release an IPA cask beer Friday, May 15.

Winner: Aw, come on, can’t we all be winners here? And maybe even write a song about it?

NARROWS BREWING CO., 2-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, 9007 S. 19th St., Tacoma, 253.327.1400