GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — During quarantine, Run the Jewels, rap’s marquee MC/producer duo, dropped “RTJ4,” an incendiary album of front to back bangers that could rile the staunchest couch potato to riot. For Ed Collazo, CEO at City Built Brewing Company, their music fueled his work and inspired The Crown Series, a set of IPAs and a sour sure to impress hip-hop fans and hopheads alike.
The a-ha moment came when Collazo was listening to “Crown”, a track from the duo’s second album where MC Killer Mike exhumes the baggage that’s kept him from reaching his full potential.
“What attracted me to the song was a lyric, ‘You can’t pick up no crown, holding what’s holding you down.’ There’s a lot of truth to that,” Collazo said. “Then I started to really listen to the lyrics and found some great IPA names.”
Into the Fray, Into the Haze and Into the Murk are the names Collazo selected from the lyrics—pretty fitting for describing turbid beer.
Rob Qualls, head brewer at City Built, never listened to Run the Jewels before brewing these beers, but he happened to match the duo’s tendency for lavishness and excess with high-budget hop bills for each IPA.
“I wanted to spend all the money on all the fancy hops we could,” Qualls said. “The way I look at it, the malt bill might be the car but it means nothing if there’s not an engine behind there driving.”
Into the Fray is packed with Galaxy, Into the Murk with Nelson Sauvin and a dash of Idaho 7 and Into the Haze with all the boutique hops—Citra, Cryo Simcoe and Amarillo. To the New England detractors who knock hazies for their supposed sameness, trying these IPAs side-by-side reveals the spectrum of flavors possible for the style. Buy each individually for $20 a 4-pack to taste the variety.
The oddball in the series is Childish Obsession, a fruited sour with tangerine puree, vanilla and lactose. The flavor evokes such childhood indulgences as push-pops and Sunny D. Snag 4-packs for $20 each. All cans will be available for purchase first to mug clubbers on 8/27, and to the public on 8/28.
For the cans, Collazo tapped Grand Rapids locals Kyle DeGroff and Elliot Chaltry to create the most eye-popping art imaginable. You may have recognized their work while driving through the Creston neighborhood, where their large scale murals invigorate city blocks. Here they’ve shrunk their canvas from buildings to cans, but their work retains the same sense of panoramic detail. Each can pays respect to a different Run the Jewels album, creating characters inspired by the iconic hands on each cover.
As a lifelong hip-hop fan, Collazo was thrilled to bring this tribute to life.
“I grew up listening to a lot of groups that probably inspired Run the Jewels—Tribe, Wu-Tang,” Collazo said. “We have another beer we named after Del the Funkee Homosapien called Bob Dobalina.”
This series perfectly translates the bombast of Run the Jewels into beer that would make Killer Mike and El-P proud.
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About City Built Brewing Company
Cities are where cultures collide. Ideas get remixed. Societal shifts start. Old traditions combine and become new trends. City Built Brewing Company strives to reflect that energy in their innovative beer recipes and methods, and in their Puerto Rican inspired food served in their downtown Grand Rapids taproom. Visit them and learn how they make the strange familiar, and the familiar fresh and bold. Follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
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