Making Pictures of New Beer

When a new (yet to officially open their doors to the public) brewery comes along with some beer and wants photos I can’t say, “no”! After all, I have a duty to share and to inspire, right? When Brandon at First Capital Brewery contacted me I must admit I was pretty excited to taste their ales and get pictures so I could share.

FCB Imperial IPA

First Capital Brewery, Experimental Imperial IPA – © Michael Warth

The first beer behind the lens was the Imperial IPA. I struggled a bit with how I was going to make the pictures and I wanted all three images to have a bit of a harmony between them. I decided to use my classic lighting set-up on the old wood table top and add fallen leaves. Because bottles and labels are not completed yet, I also couldn’t use the bottles in any identifiable way. A simple shot of the beer in a glass seemed boring and I wanted these shots to be useful for future advertising and marketing.

For the beer geeks, this DIPA was a serious wow-factor for me. Again, it was the first time I have ever had any of their beer and I didn’t know what to expect. In fact, I have been rather bored with IPA style beers for a while now and this ale hit it out of the park. I can’t talk specifics as to IBU and ABV numbers, or even give you a definitive name for any of these three ales but I can tell you the DIPA was around 100 IBUs but tasted like 70-80 and is around 10% ABV and very sneaky at that! The Imperial IPA had a fantastic balance I would highly recommend to anyone looking to give this brewery a try.


First Capital Brewing Porter – © Michael Warth

The next beer in the trio was a peanut butter porter with a milky feel thanks to the lactose sugar and cocoa. The porter is around 10% ABV and 50 IBUs and will be a great addition to their lineup. I find it quite refreshing to see brewers who still see the importance of making a good porter. In a world of black beer stouts and Imperial Russian styles, I was thrilled to give this one a taste.

I saved a Belgian style for the final shot and needed a whole pineapple to pull off what I was trying to do. The final beer in the set still needed to look like I shot it on the same set as the other two but I needed to get that pineapple in there without looking like a Hawaiian tourism photo. Keep in mind I was shooting this last beer after midnight due to schedule issues and I pre-lighted, and did all my testing shots with stand-in props earlier the day before so all I would have to do is stop and get a fresh pineapple and start firing away.

First Capital Brewery, Belgian White with Pineapple - © Michael Warth

First Capital Brewery, Belgian White with Pineapple – © Michael Warth

When arrived at the grocery store at 12:20 am (they close at 1 am) the staff looked pissed I was strolling in with a shopping cart. They had an army of people blocking aisles and prepping floors. In fact, they were closing aisles as I was exiting them. It’s like they didn’t want my money and wanted to start before 1 am with their massive project. Nonetheless, I grabbed the perfect pineapple, some other needed groceries and made my way to the self-checkout before 1 am. I won’t even go into detail about how much I didn’t get due to the cleaning efforts…and I was wanting to get shooting so I could be done by 3:30 am.

FCB Belgian White BTS - © Michael Warth

FCB Belgian White BTS – © Michael Warth

I cracked the beer, poured it into the glass, had the set all ready to go with the pineapple in place and it kind of went too smoothly. I actual got to focus on drinking the props sooner than I thought, and this beer was delicious. In fact, it was probably my favorite of the three. One might think the pineapple would have killed the flavor but it was hardly noticeable in the overall flavor profile of this ale.

If you get a chance, and when these cats open their doors next year, grab a few and enjoy the beer from First Capital Brewery. Tell them The Thirsty Muse (AKA Mike sent you) – I’m sure I’ll be sharing more of their story with you in future posts.

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Is There Time For This

Some of gear - expensive paperweights until I get off my tail and do something with them - © Michael Warth

Some of gear – expensive paperweights until I get off my tail and do something with them – © Michael Warth

Between making a living, staying responsible, managing the family life, and being an artist I have had all but no time for this site/blog. I had no idea so much time had passed since my last post.

YouTube consumed A LOT of my time and was is fun but also reminded me why I don’t need to chase shiny shit just to share my art. Most of you probably don’t care what production value I offer, or even if I like a particular drink. Maybe I’m wrong there too. However, what I do know is that I am an artist first and foremost. Time is the one thing we can all agree costs us more than anything else. How we spend our time must be about living not existing, planning to live, or doing the things we hate. I know the responsibilities are important. I’m not saying, “quit your job and join the circus”. But I am saying it’s time to slow down and enjoy the life you have.

I write this because time has passed by quickly over the last few years for me and even flew by since February this year. You may be experiencing the same thing, and I hope this makes you think about it. For me, life has been tough, challenging, and downright crappy and finding time to make art in any form has been all but a dream. I’ve probably said this more in my life than I care to admit but, I have a plan and I’m excited to be on a path to be the artist I have wanted to be all my life.

Stick around, I’ll continue a lot of what I’ve done and share it here on the blog but know this…The Thirsty Muse is about to be more about my art, the creation of my art, and all things creative in my life. My “muse” is thirsty, she is awake, and the struggle to find time will continue but the artist must create. Therefore, yes, there is time for this. I’m not dead yet…I’m only getting started.

Cheers, and happy Monday to all!

Posted in For the creative mind, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Is There Time For This

Do Profits Control Quality?

I posted a new video on the YouTube channel. It was a difficult video for me because I do love Lagunitas beer. The fact they sold a 50 percent stake in their business to Heineken bothers me because I don’t want them to lose focus and start making beer for the sake of expansion. A lot of great brewers and brewery owners know that when the passion stops, and the profit margins need to go higher, the only thing that happens is that the quality suffers due to cheaper ingredients.

Check out the video and tell me what you think. I would love for you to subscribe and share the video if you are not already subscribing.


I’m off to pack and prepare for a brewery visit…cheers to you all and thanks for your support!


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One Beer Always in My Refrigerator

Brew Free or Die IPA, 21st Amendment Brewery - © Michael Warth

Brew Free or Die IPA, 21st Amendment Brewery – © Michael Warth

Do you have that one beer you typically always have on hand? I’m sure you are out scouring the planet for those mystical beers your UNTAPPD buddies are raving about, but what do you always have in the refrigerator?

Locally, I struggle with consistent beer offerings and once I find a beer I love, it may be hard to find the next time I want it. However, I can always count on my local grocery store when it comes to 21st Amendment’s, ‘Brew Free! Or Die IPA‘. I have written about this beer, and commented a lot about it over the last few years, but it really has become a “go-to” beer for me. I am a self-proclaimed beer snob who loves stouts but I find myself enjoying nearly every style of beer out there.

Why an IPA, though? Maybe it is based on the food I like to eat regularly, or maybe it’s just the clean hoppy bite I enjoy – who knows? What I do know, is that I will fly to San Francisco to have words with the folks at 21st Amendment if they stop making this beer. Brew Free is a nearly perfect example of a West Coast style IPA in my opinion. It hits the 7% ABV, 70 IBU sweet spot I enjoy.

I posted a video “Beer Introduction” on the YouTube channel for anyone not familiar with the beer.

You may also want to check out a post I wrote about an interview with Shaun O’Sullivan (21st Amendment’s co-founder and brewmaster) here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May your evening be filled with love, laughter, and good drink – Cheers!


Posted in Beer, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Thirsty Muse is on YouTube!

I’m happy to announce The Thirsty Muse is now on YouTube! You may not want another notification coming at you, but it would mean a great deal if you subscribed to the YouTube Channel!

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A Drink With Skekzi

COLDCOCK sponsored Ohio band, Skekzi - © Michael Warth

COLDCOCK sponsored Ohio band, Skekzi (From Left, Chris Crum, Mark Bowman, Chad Grooms, Jeremy Payton)- © Michael Warth

Last month I packed up some gear, and drove to the Skekzi rehearsal space to have a few words over a drink with the band. We talked about the band, I got to hear some great tunes, made a few pictures, and learned about their connection with COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey. The interview was an informal gathering over a few glasses of whiskey – conversation style, just the way I like it.

Skekzi is a Columbus, Ohio rock band formed in 2011 and resurrected in 2015. Original members, Chad Grooms & Jeremy Payton recently teamed up with Chris Crum & Mark Bowman to renew Skekzi. With the EP “Sick” released in 2012, and the EP “Twisted” following in 2013, I’m sure the band is eager to share the next installment of ear-hole madness and sweet sounds of rock and metal infused with their unique sound.

As one would expect, when four musicians and a professional imbiber with a creativity problem sit down to talk music and booze the conversation has a tendency to run in different directions. A fact that I personally enjoy. I learned they will be releasing a full-length LP in mid to late 2016, and they’re currently working on their live set, and honing their chops. Columbus locals can catch their first show back in the public’s eye on January 30th, at O’Shecky’s!

I could make this a traditionally done transcribed “interview” with a band where I ask a question, and show the band’s answer. However, when I sit down with a drink, and talk with a band, I find the abstract thoughts and meanings are way more interesting and deeper in meaning than any question I could possibly ask. I recorded the interview with a few questions in mind and we just started a conversation. As luck would have it, my own “Thirsty Muse” whispered in my ear and sparked my creative soul to share the moments.

Chad Grooms - © Michael Warth

Chad Grooms – © Michael Warth

Seeing their bond as a band, and being invited into their space was a privilege I won’t soon forget. I’ll admit, I walked into the space blind because I didn’t know what to expect, and I had booze in hand. Our meeting could go great or it could go bad. Fortunately for me, it all went well and we got to share a few stories over a drink.

Mark Bowman & Chad Grooms - © Michael Warth

Mark Bowman & Chad Grooms – © Michael Warth

If you are wondering what happened between the release of “Twisted” in 2013 and the new line-up, you can blame Portland, OR and business. Chad moved to Portland and as one would expect, it was just not possible to keep the band going. However, with a lot of material, there was still something left unfinished. When Grooms returned home to Columbus, he and founding member Jeremy started working on getting the band going again, and as fate would have it, they found themselves at Mark Bowman’s studio to do some recordings. Mark, a friend, and non-member of the band, along with long-time member, Chris Crum helped Chad & Jeremy lay down some new work in the studio. Mark remained with the group, and by the end of 2015, Skekzi was once again a complete band.

I’ve always been a fan of local and regional bands who night after night put it out there for little to no money, often without a significant audience, and absolutely love what they do. Nearly everyone I know playing at this level has a regular job and little time to pursue their passion. Factor in the lives of your band-mates, and the fact that sometimes life simply gets in the way of creativity, these cats are already rockstars in my book. At COLDCOCK they have a saying, “Take Your Shot”. Yes, it can be about the booze, but it’s also in the spirit (no pun intended) of taking your shot at life. Doing what drives you to new heights – making the best of the world around you and doing it all your own way.

Bands tend to do this best. I don’t know if it is the camaraderie, the synergy, or something else, but bands often manage to create under the worst conditions for the worst payouts. Remember, there would be no national acts filling large venues without local bands! Skekzi may not be as well known as many other bands, but I would bet their hearts are as dedicated to the craft as any national act out there.

I am always asking the question about why man has raised a glass for centuries, I was reminded quickly that there is no clear answer. When I got to this particular question I soon realized the answer lies within us all, but hard to express in words. It is a subjective answer, but also like any other where one simply must be there, at that moment, with the right people, and the right reasons. Only then can the question be answered – I was able to answer it with Skekzi that evening. But you would have to have been there to experience the answer. Mark may have said it best when he compared it to breaking bread, or having a meal.

Jeremy Payton, Mark Bowman, and Chad Grooms - © Michael Warth

Jeremy Payton, Mark Bowman, and Chad Grooms – © Michael Warth

Go check ’em out…



Posted in Booze With Artists, People You Should Know | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

It’s OK – Only 11% Of Us Actually Drink Craft Beer

"It's just not fair", says the king of beers. © Michael Warth

“It’s just not fair”, says the king of beers. © Michael Warth


Apparently the King of Beers would like to eliminate all craft beer and continue to offer rebates to distributors who do not distribute craft beer. The tiny space given to craft beer is  common and routinely accepted among most of us craft beer lovers. I mean, the big three beer producers still sell to the masses, and stores must turn a profit, but what would make the king so worried as to try and use government regulations to rid the shelves of our beloved craft beer?

Watered down beer bashing aside, what are they worried about? Sure, since 2008 In-BEV dropped from 49% market share to 45%, and domestic brands like Bud have dropped a massive 5.7%. I guess the 173.6% craft beer increase in that same period scares them enough to go to extremes. Is the writing on the wall for big brands? Are beer drinkers really jumping ship and chasing the craft beer craze?

The numbers would say, “yes”! But, how is this happening when shelf-space in the stores so overwhelmingly catering to the mass produced beer? I don’t have the answers, and a lot of my friends still drink the mainstream lagers and ales. Personally, it’s subjective and to each their own, but I see craft beer as a great alternative to the other beer(s) sold everywhere.

To level the playing field and stop losing market share, the big beer-makers have started an initiative to limit the sales of craft beer in the stores. As reported in the Wall Street Journal…

The world’s largest brewer last month introduced a new incentive program that could offer some independent distributors in the U.S. annual reimbursements of as much as $1.5 million if 98% of the beers they sell are AB InBev brands, according to two distributors who requested confidentiality because they were asked not to discuss the plan. Distributors whose sales volumes are 95% made up of AB InBev brands would be eligible to have the brewer cover as much as half of their contractual marketing support for those brands, which includes retail promotion and display costs. AB InBev, which introduced the plan at a meeting of distributors in St. Louis, estimates participating distributors would receive an average annual benefit of $200,000 each.

I didn’t set out to write a controversial post about what beer is best, or what beer you should be drinking. Most of you who know me well – know I like a can of Bud about as much as a Nickelback song, but it’s not about me. All of us have our reasons for choosing the beer we drink. I just want to understand why the mass produced beer makers are resorting to culture-bashing ad campaigns, unscrupulous political persuasion, and overall dirty tactics when all they need to do is run their business, produce a good product, and move along. Unless, they know their beer is as bad as we do.

If you are part of the 11% of craft beer drinkers, you might consider all this nonsense. But I urge you to take note. Prohibition was bad for the country then, and this new form of selective prohibition is bad for consumer choice. I’m not saying we should demand shelf space, I’m simply saying we need to continue to support local craft beer makers, distributors, and retail shops selling it, and let the rest of the world watch the king struggle until he too decides to make beer the way it was before prohibition.

Before you send the hate mail and private messages…

  • Don’t be butt-hurt that your beloved beer isn’t the stuff we all like.
  • It’s my opinion, and the statistics are only there to justify what I am saying (mainly to the people who argue the finer points and tend to split hairs defending their “brand”).
  • If you are a Nickelback fan – why are you even here?
  • I’m a lover of beer and I will always drink a gift beer, I will always spend money on beer that I think/or know I will like, and I’m not a fan of big market beer (though I was once in college and I did experiment with a few cans of well known beer).
  • Stop crying, I wasn’t picking a fight, and if you are that upset about me saying negative things about your beer, then you need to move along and find something else to read. However, I am impressed you read this far!
Posted in Basic Bar Banter, Beer | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Are You Ready to ‘Take Your Shot’?

COLDCOCK ® American Herbal Whiskey - © Michael Warth

COLDCOCK ® American Herbal Whiskey – © Michael Warth

Ohio is getting cold-cocked! That’s right, I said it — cold-cocked. The rocking’ folks at Zeiler Spirits in San Diego, California have started distributing their flagship brand, COLDCOCK American Herbal Whiskey to Ohio, and I am wicked excited about it. I was starting to get jealous of other states already selling it, and even started seeing COLDCOCK ‘merch’ tents at the music festivals! Come on, Ohio – why do we have to wait for this kind of thing? The satin black bottle of herbal infused bourbon is exactly what a lot of us have been waiting for.

During my research, I have come to the conclusion COLDCOCK whiskey is deeply interested in the basic principle that hard work and taking your best shot is what life is all about. The culture created by Zeiler Spirits in this brand is not only unique among the booze industry, it is downright genius and perfect for those of us who spend time in the community and lifestyle they are marketing to. Any struggling artist (musician, painter, tattoo artist, performer, etc) gets it. Life is truly about following your passion, working hard at it, and moving forward. I love the fact that a major brand like COLDCOCK puts so much effort into supporting artists of all kinds, and encourages success. I’ve never experienced a more artist-friendly company than Zeiler Spirits.

Because this article means a lot to me, I struggled with what I was going to write. I know there will people who read this post and judge it and the whiskey for any number of reasons. I also want to remain true to The ‘Muse and not create a boring and dry review of the whiskey. We already know that taste is subjective and there are drinks we all love, and drinks we all hate. With that disclaimer out of the way, I personally love it, and look forward to being able to stock it in my cabinet. If you don’t learn anything else from this post…learn this…COLDCOCK is literally taking the music industry by storm, and the people already involved love it.

The 750 ml black satin bottle of COLDCOCK® American Herbal Flavored Whiskey - © Michael Warth

The 750 ml black satin bottle of COLDCOCK® American Herbal Flavored Whiskey – © Michael Warth

At 35% ABV (70 proof), less sugar than competing shot brands, and interesting flavor profile (it doesn’t taste like cough syrup) it is so much more than just another flavored whiskey. COLDCOCK is a three-year-old bourbon whiskey infused with natural herbs and flavors such as, cinnamon, eucalyptus, green tea, white tea, ginger, hibiscus, and more. COLDCOCK is in one of the hottest and fastest growing booze categories today and if you think you are too good for it – you are missing the boat! I personally feel like COLDCOCK is the perfect alternative to many of the main spirits in the cocktails I make at home. As cheeky as it sounds, my friends and I love coming up with our own “cocky” names for home-made cock-tails.

Think about it…a traditional dirty martini made with COLDCOCK in place of gin or vodka. Yes, it would be filthy looking! But that is what’s so much fun – a filthy martini made with COLDCOCK could be called a ‘Filthy-Dirty Cock’! I know, I know…I may have stepped across the line with that one but, c’mon! A few inappropriate words among friends is funny. If you are into COLDCOCK-TAILS, try any one of the company suggestions such as, Cocky Mule (more on this below), Twisted Cock, Morning Wood (a personal favorite), Coldcock N’ Cider, Coldcock’d All Night, and Cocky-tini. And as silly as all of this can be or may sound, COLDCOCK is anything but silly. In fact, the brand is killing it.

COLDCOCK sponsored Ohio band, Skekzi - © Michael Warth

COLDCOCK sponsored Ohio band, & friends of mine, Skekzi – © Michael Warth

COLDCOCK was founded by spirits industry veterans who know a thing or two about the business, their market, and building the biggest brands in history. The founders teamed up with major music, action sports, and tattoo industry giants to quickly gain momentum within their target market. Ever hear of Jägermeister and Grey Goose? Yeah, the brains behind building that brand started COLDCOCK! You read that right, Rick & Sarah Zeiler of Zeiler Spirits were the marketing brains behind Jäger and Grey Goose.

Andy Glass (We Came As Romans), COLDCOCK Sponsored band - © Michael Warth

Andy Glass (We Came As Romans), COLDCOCK Sponsored band – © Michael Warth

Having worked for Sidney Frank (just Google him – I couldn’t possibly give him the justice he deserves on this short blog post), the Zeilers know what they are getting into, and have the experience to make their flagship brand huge. Competing with the likes of Fireball, the 9th best-selling spirit brand in the U.S., COLDCOCK may just have the upper hand. If you doubt that last statement, you haven’t been paying attention. The Zeiler’s have called on their experience and contacts to build a brand that dropped into the market guns blazing playing Slayer’s – Relentless, and making friends everywhere. Love it or hate it; COLDCOCK is a growing brand.

My Version of The Cocky Mule

The Thirsty Muse version of The Cocky Mule - © Michael Warth

The Thirsty Muse version of The Cocky Mule – © Michael Warth

Did you know the Moscow Mule is an American cocktail? So, why not use American whiskey? I get the whole “moscow” thing because of the vodka but…

…this is a Cocky Mule, not a Moscow Mule so don’t fire off those emails of hate that I tend to get from a few of you. The COLDCOCK version is…

  • COLDCOCK Herbal Whiskey
  • Ginger Beer
  • Orange Wedge
  • Served on the rocks

Pretty easy to make, and quite tasty. But I wondered what it would taste like if I used a more traditional approach based on limes and a bit more booze than the standard 1 1/2 to 2 ounce versions (my version is basically a double and filled my mug perfectly).

  • 4 ounces of COLDCOCK Herbal Whiskey
  • 6 ounces of Ginger Beer (I used Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew)
  • 1/2 ounce of Simple Syrup
  • 1 ounce of Lime juice
  • 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Lime Wedge
  • Served on the rocks
My preparation for The Thirsty Muse, Cocky Mule - © Michael Warth

My preparation for The Thirsty Muse, Cocky Mule – © Michael Warth

I found that by adding the simple syrup and lime juice – the ‘Mule had a very clean refreshing taste followed by a distinct ginger bite. Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew also helps in that area because it really packs a ginger punch. I adjusted my recipe to fit the mug and add a bit more of a COLDCOCK punch, and the drink was still not boozy (sneaky yes, medicine-like no). Exactly how I like my cocktails. Just a few dashes of Angostura bitters, really added the necessary bittering to keep the drink from becoming too sweet so don’t skimp on that if you make this one at home.

You can shake this drink but I found that stirring was best. Add the ginger beer to top it off and after pouring the shaken/stirred ingredients into your mug. Keep in mind that the amount of ice and your own personal variations of the recipe is completely open to interpretation. To fit my mug well, and make this drink the same each time I make it, I stuck with the amounts I shared above.

I didn’t get photos, but I have to share this one with you. If you enjoy a Long Island Ice Tea, then try this version…

  • 1 oz COLDCOCK Herbal Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Tequila
  • 3/4 oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz White Rum
  • 3/4 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz of lime margarita mix
  • Top off the 10 ounce Collins glass of ice with Coke & garnish with a lemon.
COLDCOCK backstage, the after-party has arrived. - © Michael Warth

COLDCOCK backstage, the after-party has arrived. – © Michael Warth

If I close with a philosophical mindset, COLDCOCK is that shot you take with your friends who support you as an artist. Created by a group of people who understand what it means to take your shot, be an artist, be true to who you are, and support you for doing so, Zeiler Spirits is your champion bringing you a great whiskey for the occasion. A versatile whiskey one can shoot or mix, one with a name that can make you giggle or make you realize life is about taking your shot – a true drink for the artist in us all.

Click on any image to view the full resolution version…share them, and tell your friends to join us here at The Thirsty Muse.


Be sure to follow COLDCOCK on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Visit COLDCOCK online to find it near you.

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Halloween – Beer – Masks – And The Creative Soul

AleSmith Brewing, Evil Dead Red Ale - © Michael Warth

AleSmith Brewing, Evil Dead Red Ale – © Michael Warth

Samhain (pronounced Sah-Win), sunset October 31st to sunset November 1st, marks the end of harvest season and the beginning of the darker months. Traditionally, this is the time when the space between our world and the other world(s) is thin enough to be crossed. People of our world would dress in disguise to trick the souls of the other world and they would feast by going door to door begging for food. By the 9th century Christianity renamed the traditional Gaelic & Celtic festivals to All Saints Day, and over time we came to know this time as Halloween.

In the true spirit of Samhain or Halloween, if you will, I wanted to share a special beer, and discuss masks and art with AJ Good of The House of Masks. However, the interview with AJ proved to be more than a Halloween post, it was a reminder to all creatives that what you do is not as important as doing it. Turn off your lights, put on some metal music, grab your favorite drink, and enjoy this special Halloween post.

AJ Good & his collection at The House of Masks - © Michael Warth

AJ Good & his collection at The House of Masks – © Michael Warth

“When I was like four or five my grandpa forced me to watch the movie Halloween and it scared the Hell out of me” ~ AJ

This creepy clown stared at me during the entire interview - © Michael Warth

This creepy clown stared at me during the entire interview – © Michael Warth

Sitting down with AJ to talk about his collection of masks I soon realized this person I called “a kid” was really an old soul, wise beyond his years and full of the creative spirit. I thought about how, many of us put on a metaphorical mask daily to become the person we thought we should be, or the person others wanted us to be. AJ didn’t have that mask – he was transparent, open, and quite nice. I wondered why so many cars in my area had these, “I Hate AJ Good” stickers on them. Why is he so hated, when clearly he is an inspiration to many?

Like all my interviews, booze is involved. AJ, the true hero of the day, doesn’t drink but was willing to play along and have a few tastes of the ale I shared. I still think when I wasn’t looking he had his friend stunt-drinker, TeaJay drink it for him. Nonetheless, the social lubricant was being consumed while we discussed his creative side.

Slipknot - © Michael Warth

Slipknot – © Michael Warth

“It’s just latex and metal, but it means something…I enjoy collecting more than making them” ~ AJ Good

AJ started his collection with a Slipknot gas mask many years ago, but the masks are really a small portion of who AJ really is. He is an artist, a creative, and a wise soul. Like most creatives, if he is not creating he is not happy. I asked him if he ever felt his creativity leave him, and how did it make him feel? He said yes, and proceeded to tell me about a bad clown mask he purchased. He wore that mask every day for a few hours a day for a year as a way to be creative and think about what he could do with the mask. He documented the year taking cell phone pictures of himself wearing the mask which led to a book idea that excited him. As the book idea evolved, the creativity in the project literally escaped him and he was unable to make any pictures he wanted to use.

"It's just latex and metal" - © Michael Warth

“It’s just latex and metal” – © Michael Warth

AJ is a tattoo artist at Wicked Sensations who worked there for a while before apprenticing at the shop. He started tattooing because he loved the atmosphere at tattoo shops as a child. Good spoke about going into shops with his dad and I’m pretty sure he was hooked at that point. Who wouldn’t? I mean, I don’t have a single tattoo (yet) and I love going into shops to see the art. I was starting to think AJ was simply someone like me, a person who suffers from creative ADHD. He was interested – and good at – a million creative things.

Aside of his creative endeavors, I wanted to know what really motivates him to live the life of a creative? Many of us treat our creative life as a hobby or a plan B. Certainly, collecting masks, tattooing, drawing, painting, being a drummer, and genius marketing campaigns make for a pretty interesting daily lifestyle but what about plan A or playing it safe? I got the sense Mr. Good would always seek a goal no matter what passion drove the bus. Touching on this, as we were finishing up the Evil Dead Red Ale, I asked him why he made the creative lifestyle his plan A, and how he stayed motivated.

The simple answer was that he is afraid or terrified of death. His goals are driven by the fact that we are all going to die anyway and he can do whatever he wants. If it kills him, then oh well. I can see what he is saying – it’s the old, if your gonna die, die with your boots on, concept. Some of you reading this might think, so what, I do the same thing and it is what it is. But I would argue that Good lives in a small conservative, blue-color town an hour away from the closest metropolitan area in Ohio. If he was in a larger city, he would have a much better chance of finding an audience to support his work. People just don’t typically live the creative life in Chillicothe…let alone one that is based on horror masks, tattooing, and movie making. Oh yeah, he’s working on a TV show too! The dude is busy as hell, and it’s only part of his master plan.

One would think he is like a lot of young people in Chillicothe, Ohio – he wants to leave as soon as he can. But no, he loves it in Chillicothe. “I’m really close to friends and family, and I hate being away from Chillicothe. I love it here…that big fucking stink stack out there is like one of my favorite things”, he says. Referring to the paper mill smoke stack reaching several hundred feet above the horizon.

“I Hate AJ Good” – A Diabolical Marketing Scheme or Simple Accident?

How did the ‘I Hate AJ Good’ campaign come about? “It was never meant to be a marketing scheme, but during the old days of social media I was argumentative and pissing everyone off. So I figured when people said they hated me, I’d simply hand them a sticker”, Good said. Why not? The tone and level of excitement for the “hate” part of the interview was starting to get entertaining. I was already hating him…not in a jealous old man way, but in a, yeah, I get it kind of way. The old stink stack was visible just a few blocks away and we were entertained by all this talk of hate, masks, and creative living. I would blame it on the ale, but there wasn’t enough to finish the interview.

Ghost at The House of Masks - © Michael Warth.

Ghost at The House of Masks – © Michael Warth.

The conversation went into discussing heavy metal, influences, concerts, and the untimely death of someone AJ was inspired by, GWAR frontman, Dave “Oderus Urungus” Brockie. Horror movies, and heavy metal are like first cousins. I think all of us metal heads are into the same things and I believe that’s why masks and stage make-up are so identifiable in metal. AJ said he was very selective of the shows he attends but when it comes to Ghost and GWAR, he wouldn’t miss a show.

Unofficial Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) mask - © Michael Warth

Unofficial Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) mask – © Michael Warth

The death of Dave Brockie was a tough blow to the music world anyway, but to AJ, it was a personal loss. He got the news after a convention Good was attending, and like a lot of us, it seemed like a sick joke at first. When the truth came out, it was like the world lost a true performer who loved his fans like family.

The more I talked with AJ, I learned that he really had a lot more to say than what I was ever going to be able to share in one post. He was a kind-hearted person with a weird sense of style, artistic drive, and a persistent addiction to collecting masks. I can see why he can find so many friends who understand that to hate him is to love him. Everyday of his life must be like Halloween. I mean, walking through his house, greeting a life-size Michael Meyers dummy, and hundreds of masks is pretty cool. You can learn more about AJ Good by clicking the links below…

For those of you interested in the beer, I can tell you we didn’t talk about it or analyze it for taste. In fact, a quick introduction before the interview, a quick pour into three glasses, and commencement of the interview was all that really happened. None of these interviews are about a review of the booze anyway. If someone comments about it, we may discuss it but that’s really as far as it goes. A friend of mine (Tara – Owner of Steiner’s Speakeasy) suggested the beer. I simply told her I had a Halloween post idea and needed a beer for the interview.

Evil Dead Red Ale by Alesmith Brewing, and TK (mask info) - © Michael Warth

Evil Dead Red Ale by Alesmith Brewing, and a custom mask by Jordan Patton, painted by AJ Good – © Michael Warth

The beer we drank during the interview was AleSmith Brewing Company‘s, Evil Dead Red Ale (6.66% ABV, American Red Ale). Full disclosure here, AJ is not a drinker and I’m pretty sure he didn’t like the beer but he did give it a go for the sake of this blog, and for that, he is a rockstar in my book. The beer is a special concoction to celebrate Halloween. While everyone else is enjoying their pumpkin flavored everything (some pumpkin ales are pretty tasty though), the folks at AleSmith Brewing gives us a deep blood-red, intense pine and citrus flavored – American hopped, brew.

It’s getting late, the moon is bright, and my last bottle of EDR is almost gone. I’m sure my Great Dane, Thor needs to piss, and the word count is getting too high for most of us to live with on a blog. What I got out of the interview with AJ was that some of us are pretty lame – or maybe just me. I wish I had his drive and fearlessness when I was his age. He inspired me to embrace this Halloween as a time to follow my dreams as an artist. Step into the other world I’ve been treating like a distant dream or place I may never occupy. Do it like I mean it, and not be afraid to do my own thing – after all we are all going to die anyway. Fear death, not the art because death may bring the end of our existence and ability to create. Thanks AJ…I really hate you, brother.

Happy Halloween!



A special shout out to our mutual friend, TeaJay for helping us drink responsibly, for being my voice activated light stand, and bringing that energy only you can bring! Can you believe the cat almost had the mole? I mean, damn…


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Don’t Be Afraid to Approach This Green Bottle of Booze

Jägermeister - © Michael Warth

Jägermeister – © Michael Warth

Jägermeister is like that dark mysterious friend you have. It takes a while for people to approach, they may be hesitant, they could be afraid, they may not even like what they find; but the moment that one person decides its their drink, they are friends for life.

A lot of my metal head friends are like Jäger. Often misunderstood, they don’t always look normal based on what society deems “normal”. Maybe even a bit scary to approach. But most of them have great passion for what they do, or even how they live their life, and to their loyalty as a friend. To many, this can be somewhat abrasive and hard to take. But I can tell you this, I wouldn’t trade one of my metal heads for a single normal looking, nonmetal person who is overly judgmental about people who look and act different.

It’s true, some metal heads are completely off the reservation. They take things to extreme, but doesn’t every clique have that sub-group? I mean, look at Kanye…the dude is just weird and because he claims to be our generation’s greatest rockstar, that just proves that he is nothing more than a corporate music clown and misinformed douche. C’mon, if your beats come from a sampler, those aren’t beats, that’s just random percussive sounds put together in a machine. I’ll take Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden) over any drum machine beat ever created.

I got together with a few of my metal head friends recently to have a few drinks and chat about music, good and bad booze, why we gather to drink, and much more. We never solved the world’s problems, and we couldn’t possibly fix what is wrong with people but had a good time, nonetheless. And that’s what having a few drinks with friends is all about – having a good time.

Ryan, Paul, and myself talking about music and booze over a few drinks of Jäger - © Michael Warth

Ryan, Paul, and myself talking about music and booze over a few drinks of Jäger – © Michael Warth

We started off discussing good and bad beer and a brief chat about what The Thirsty Muse was all about. Like many longtime readers of the ‘Muse might imagine, I didn’t have much to say about the macro beers (fizzy yellow beer in the red and white cans) but I think my friend Ryan may have seen the snob in me as not much of a snob. I mean, I really don’t care what you drink, I just want you to drink the best. If that means a light beer works for you, then fine. It led to the concept of baker’s bread versus bread from the giant shopping center. If you had the choice, wouldn’t you go to the baker and get fresh bread made today? Paul, says no, because he has other things he needs from the store that the baker doesn’t sell and it doesn’t matter, it is just a matter of convenience. Am I to think the easy to find beer is simply convenience and that millions of drinkers just don’t care? I guess – seems legit.

Which as you might imagine, talking about watered-down beer resulted in a few comments about watered-down music (Nickelback came up a lot – but I assure you, I am the ass that doesn’t like their music). We proceeded to talk about great bands touring the country this past summer and I spoke highly of Full Devil Jacket since I got to photograph them on the Hinder tour, meet with the singer, and be reminded about how awesome they are.

Full Devil Jacket performing on the Hinder tour June 2015 at Bogart's in Cincinnati, Ohio - © Michael Warth

Full Devil Jacket performing on the Hinder tour June 2015 at Bogart’s in Cincinnati, Ohio – © Michael Warth

Before I get too far, I have to say that Paul and Ryan are two-thirds of the band MG Flash. Unfortunately, Karl (drummer) was out of town or couldn’t make it (short notice on my part). I asked them who their musical influences were and I was surprised to find that both Ryan and Paul didn’t really become musicians until they were in their late teens.

MG Flash (Ryan) at a local benefit concert - © Michael Warth

MG Flash (Ryan) at a local benefit concert – © Michael Warth

Ryan recalls, “Metalli-Mega-Slayer-Deth” from the late 1980’s were a major influence on his music. He also referred to his brother’s collection of old Judas Priest and Black Sabbath albums as a source of encouragement. We all agreed that Pantera held it together for the metal genre in the 1990’s and kept us moving forward as musicians. Paul was a late-comer to the metal scene and was much more into Megadeth before discovering the older Metallica albums (Kill ’em All, Ride the Lightning) even though And Justice For All was the current Metallica album. The old Metallica he discovered (through researching Dave Mustaine) is what inspired him to take up the bass guitar thanks to the late Cliff Burton.

Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) July 2011 - © Michael Warth

Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) July 2011 – © Michael Warth

To pick a fight I said, “Ozzy Sabbath or Dio Sabbath” but that only ran us down a great rabbit hole of Sabbath just being two different bands with two different vocalists – neither was really better, they were just different versions of the same band. The magic of having the right people, and making art. You just can’t get these guys to argue, I mean it was deep thinking, easy drinking, and great conversation about the magical metal music of the late 1970’s, and early 1980’s. The music of MG Flash is an amalgamation of old school rock and metal. MG Flash make music they like to make…not a formula, not playing to the cheap seats, and not giving an ounce of fuck to ever care about making mainstream music.

Once we got into the meat of music, and how the music industry is completely devalued these days, it really got interesting. The magic isn’t gone because the good musicians are dead, the magic is gone because the mystique of discovering bands is lost on social media and anyone can find anyone on YouTube. They/we no longer have to attend a show, or wait for four hours listening to the radio anymore just to catch that one tune. We got lazy. Nobody is going to shows anymore. What happened to packing a 700 person venue with a bunch of sweaty, leather-clad metal heads to see a band?

Brandon Yeagly (Crobot Band), performing at The Alrosa Villa at Columbus, Ohio, July 26th - © Michael Warth

Brandon Yeagly (Crobot Band), performing at The Alrosa Villa at Columbus, Ohio, July 26th – © Michael Warth

In fact, Paul and I were at the Crobot show in Columbus at The Alrosa a few months back and it makes the perfect example of what is wrong with music today. It’s not the bands, or musicians, it’s the fact that metal heads, or concert-goers in general, aren’t going to the shows and supporting the bands. Crobot killed it, they played as if there were 100,000 fans in there. Unfortunately, all but about 75 of us attended the show and I can honestly say Columbus let them down. The sad part is that this is not unusual. If a nationally known band can’t always fill a venue, where is the incentive for the regional or even local bands?

MG Flash (Paul) at a local benefit concert - © Michael Warth

MG Flash (Paul) at a local benefit concert – © Michael Warth

Paul had a great comment that relates well to Jäger. It doesn’t matter if you were poor, middle-class, well-to-do, the sports kid, the geek, the artist, musician or whatever clique or social class you were in because if you liked Slayer, you all banded together. That pretty much sums up what metal heads are like. And I’ll say it again, we might be strange and hard to approach (like Jäger), but if you like us, accept us, and like the music we like, you are already one of us.

Finally, if you are not seeing the bands live, it is like leaving that bottle of Jäger on the shelf at the liquor store. Yes, you may have tried it at a friend’s house, you probably heard about it once, you may have even researched it online; but until you buy that bottle, take it home, and drink it, you are not experiencing what it has to offer. You may not even like it…I recommend keeping in the freezer. Add some Red Bull if you don’t like it straight. Try it in orange juice (I love it that way). But for the love of Odin, just because a pop star recommended a whipped vodka, that doesn’t mean that particular type of liquor is the rock star at the party.

Drink responsibly, drink well, raise a fist in the air and bang that head every once in a while! But never be afraid to try something new, even if you don’t think you will like it. Now go out and buy some music, and support an artist.

Learn more about MG Flash here:


Posted in For the creative mind, Misc, People You Should Know, Philosophy, Whiskey | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments