The cool thing about the Street Performance community is that it’s a relatively small band of misfits that end up pursuing this style of public entertainment and as such anyone who’s working the circuit is either someone you know or someone you’ve heard about. I’d heard about Magic Brian for a few years but it wasn’t until June 4, 2010 that I finally got to meet him in personâ€¦ We were both performing at the Dundas International Street Performer’s Festival in Southern Ontario and introduced ourselves the morning everyone was getting picked up and taken down to the festival site to check out the street pitches (stages) and getting the orientation spiel. Brian had brought a brand new show to Dundas that year, a magic show thats real focus centred on a character called Nigel Blackstorm who spoke with a hard to identify British-esque accent. In the words of this character –
“I combined my two favorite loves, Heavy Metal Music and Magic to create a new art form that I call Heavy-Magic”
The show is a fantastic smash-up of ridiculous magic tricks and the reunion of Nigel’s old band, members of which are plucked from the audience to join him on stage for the final number of the show. I watched the show awe-struck that Brian was able to pull it all of by sheer force of will and afterwards we sat down to bounce ideas back and forth and brainstorm about ways he might make the show even better! I was all about him adding a modified potato canon that would launch confetti at the end of the final number and broke down a design that another eccentric genius friend of mine, John Ullyatt, had made for me and which I modified into a prop for a show I had done where I “endowed” a six inch dog toy shaped like a hot dog with the persona of the world’s greatest stuntman who climbed into “The Canon of Courage” as the finale of the Willie the Weiner Show! But that’s another story! The real point to all of this is that both Brian and I shared the common interests of performing, ridiculousness and, as it turned out, beer.
Fast forward to June, 2015 when my growing interest in the local craft beer scene prompted my wife and boys to give me with a one gallon brew your own beer kit for Father’s Day. I was ridiculously busy when the kit arrived at the house and it didn’t actually get touched until September, but as soon as I’d brewed my first batch of beer, I was hooked. It pushed all of the right buttons and appealed to both side of my brain, the artist and the scientific. Brewing, it turned out, was an incredible outlet for my OCD and desire to create and Brianâ€™s been one of the biggest supporters of my brewing journey from the very beginning.
Performer Inspired Beers, I said to Brian in a conversation. “I want to brew beers that capture the personality of some of the wild characters I’ve met over the years. What would the Magic Brian Beer be?”
“The Best One” was Brian’s answer. And of course it would have to be an IPA!
Brian’s a bit of a hop-head when it comes to beer, so yes. It would have to be an IPA.
“But what would we call it?” I asked.
“Well, obviously it would be called ‘Heavy Magic IPA’ was the response.
And so I set about crafting a great recipe for an IPA worthy of that name. I researched other recipes, learned a lot more about the characteristics present in the style and then started to make test batches. This recipe has been one of the most challenging to nail down with a grain bill that combines standard 2-Row as the base-malt with a little Munich Malt for colour and texture some C40 for some caramel notes, and Honey and Victory malts for the sake of complexity. Six different varieties of hop also combine to give this beer it’s wonderful bitterness and aroma. 1056 ‘American Ale’ yeast for a strong fermentation with a clean finish and a few water treatments to really accentuate the hops and you end up with a beer that comes in a 7% ABV with huge character worthy of filling Nigel Blackstorm’s Flagon.
Year’s after I started working on this particular brew, Brian and I were once again performing at a festival together, this time the Ottawa International Busker’s Festival and we were sampling a couple of the bottles I’d brought to share and explaining to the other performers the concept behind the beer and the tribute and how this beer had been made. In describing the Nigel Blackstorm character we referenced the film ‘Spinal Tap’ and the classic scene where lead guitarist, Nigel Tufnel shows off his “Special” amplifier that goes all the way to 11! And the idea was born to make three variations of this beer.
Heavy Magic (standard IPA) with an ABV of 7%
Heavier Magic (double IPA) with an ABV of 9% &
Heaviest Magic (triple IPA) with and ABV that goes all the way to 11%!!!
So far I’ve managed to lock down the recipe for the standard and taken a stab at the double, but “Heaviest Magic” may remain the stuff of legends.