No shit. There I was—surrounded by two of my passions in life: beer and heavy metal. It almost was overwhelming. But for decades, I’ve been preparing my liver and ear drums for this moment. The first ever Decibel Magazine Metal and Beer Fest was happening in Philly on April 22nd and 23rd, and I was there. I was not just there but invited to be there as part of Metalheads Podcast, and Atlas Brew Works: one of 17 metal-loving breweries pouring their metal-inspired beers. Hoof Hearted Brewing from Marengo, Ohio was also one of the lucky ones invited, and I have been dying to drink their beers.
Hoof Hearted. Say that five times fast. Get it? The first time I mentioned Hoof Hearted in my house my son giggled and my wife rolled her eyes. Perfect responses! If you get the irreverent name, then you will understand the tongue-in-cheek humor of the gentlemen behind the brewery. If you think the name of their brewery is juvenile and offensive—they don’t care.
Hoof Hearted brought two beers to the Metal and Beer Fest: South of Eleven Double India Pale Ale (IPA), and Wӓngbӓr oatmeal imperial IPA. Both beers epitomize all things Hoof Hearted: worship of the 1980s decade—especially thrash metal; dick jokes galore; video games; and very high-quality beer. Co-founder Trevor Williams was gracious enough to give me two cans of each to sneak out of the venue (Sidepipin’) and back to Washington DC. Cheers, Trevor!
I first mentioned Hoof Hearted’s South of Eleven beer in my BREWHEADS feature of Ninkasi Sleigh’r Dark Double Alt Ale back in February 2016. Both beers are tributes to FUCKING SLAYER! Just in case you don’t fully appreciate Hoof Hearted’s clever tribute, South of Eleven is named for Slayer’s 1988 album South of Heaven and its title track. At the time, the South of Heaven album had a hard act to follow. It was Slayer’s offering following the universally acclaimed thrash masterpiece 1986 album Reign in Blood. South of Heaven received mixed reviews due to its slower and more melodic tempo. But now it too is considered a masterpiece. South of Eleven, in my humble opinion, is a beer masterpiece. “On and On South of Eleven!”
Clocking in at a blistering 10.2% ABV, South of Eleven is the epitome of hedonistic pleasure. Indulge in "herbal therapies" with us as we embrace the Ultra-Hessian Simcoe, Eureka & Denali hops. Light some candles, turn off the lights, look in the mirror and begin to recite, "Whirlpool, dry hop, then dry hop again. South of Eleven is actually 10."
Trevor Williams—always staying true his character—answered my hard-hitting questions about Hoof Hearted and South of Eleven. Let the interrogation begin!
Brewheads: We met a couple of weeks back at the Decibel Magazine Metal and Beer Fest in Philly. What were some of the highlights for you guys?
Trevor: Municipal Waste's set was the highlight for me. I loved Tony [Foresta] coming out and opening the set with, "What's up you fucking beer nerds!"
BH: Hoof Hearted Brewing has a very tongue-in-cheek vibe sprinkled with a love for the 1980's. What inspired this sense of humor and nostalgia?
Trevor: I'd say having MTV & HBO as my babysitter in the 80's shaped my worldview.
BH: You are stranded in the middle of the ocean on a small row boat, and you can only save one narrative for your brewery, which one do you save? a) music b) 1980's nostalgia c) not-so subtle dick jokes
Trevor: C - Dick jokes never go out of fashion.
BH: Have you seen the movie Superbad? Were you guys part of the 8% of kids who obsessively draw pictures of dicks?
Trevor: Unfortunately, my dick drawing technique is so bad it's considered abstract.
BH: Several of your beers are musically themed. Since I'm a mad raving metalhead, your Slayer-inspired South of Eleven DIPA immediately stood out to me. Is South of Heaven your favorite Slayer album? If not, which one is?
Trevor: Reign in Blood
BH: The devilish-looking dude on the South of Eleven label art kind of looks like Slayer's front-man, Tom Araya. Was that intentional?
Trevor: Ha, ha, no that's just our attempt to front like we're hard metal dudes when we're actually just goofballs.
BH: South of Eleven is a whopping 10.2% ABV. Did the name derive from the ABV below 11% or did the name come first and the ABV follow?
Trevor: The name came first and the recipe was tailored to hit said ABV.
BH: Earlier this week was the 4th anniversary of Jeff Hanneman's death. Do you miss him?
Trevor: Very much so. It's only compounded by Dave Lombardo's absence.
BH: Do you guys play music in the brewery? Is there a favorite genre or album that gets a lot of play? Is there any music genre that is verboten?
Trevor: Lots of Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, '80s Thrash, & lots of corny '80s pop music with saxophone solos. Hagar is verboten.
BH: Do you play Slayer on South of Eleven brew day?
Trevor: Oh yes.
BH: If you could kick out an 80's thrash band from the "Big Four," who would it be? If you could expand it to the "Big Six", which bands would you add?
Trevor: I would kick out Metallica. Lars is just terrible. I'd expand it to Exodus (If Paul Baloff was still with us) and either Death Angel or Overkill.
BH: If you could make an official beer for any band, who would you choose?
BH: Any plans to make another heavy metal tribute beer?
Trevor: Oh yeah! Our Vixen beer is coming real soon...
BH: David Lee Roth, David Coverdale, and Tom Araya walk into a cage to fight to the death. What happens next?
Trevor: DLR clearly wins. The twirling of his mic stand would chew the other two up like a garbage disposal.
I cracked open a can of South of Eleven on May the Forth because beer, heavy metal, and Star Wars dominate my world (aside from my little scoundrel children).
South of Eleven has a great off-white head and its color is hazy dark yellowish-orange. This beer is so hazy you can’t see your soul through the glass. There is not a ton of yeast and hop sludge at the bottom of the can, which unfortunately is common with New England-style IPAs. It’s a good looking beer. It turns me on. It makes my Wӓngbӓr vibrate.
It smells of citrus and dank resin. It’s a good combination.
When I first tasted South of Eleven, the world “juicy” came to mind. It definitely has a full mouthfeel but somehow you get the impression that it finishes dry. It’s like a fucking black magic trick. “Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a barley out of a hop?” All the flavor is right on the tip of my tongue – just the tip. The hop profile is very juicy, resiny and bitter tongue scraping all at the same time.
Another word that came to mind was full-profile IPA. South of Eleven is smooth. Seductively smooth. This beer should be one of the white whales in the beer world. Hoof Hearted managed to brew a New England-style Double IPA better than their colleagues in the Northeast—and they made it metal! Well done gents. Well done.
Just in case you think I’m biased because I met the Hoof Hearted guys at the Decibel Metal and Beer Fest, or that I love Slayer, or I love double IPAs, or that I love a good dick joke, don’t take my word for it. Hoof hearted as a brewery has a 4.07 out of 5 rating on Beer Advocate, which is an exceptional score for all their beers averaged together. South of Eleven alone has a 4.32 rating and a 94 score. See, I told you it’s good. Experience pleasures thought unobtained.
I cannot encourage you enough to seek out Hoof Hearted Brewing and their beers. They distribute nearly exclusively in Ohio. The one lone exception is the Nosh Kitchen Bar in Portland, Maine, according to HHB’s website. The brewery is located about a half hour north of Columbus, Ohio on Interstate I-71 at 300 County Rd 26, Marengo, OH 43334. They also have a Hoof Hearted Brewery and Kitchen which is located in downtown Columbus at 850 North 4th Street. Bring your mullet, your cassette tape collection of 80s thrash metal, and your busted-up liver.
In the meantime, memorialize this video of Jeff Hanneman’s last live performance of South of Heaven at the Big 4 concert in Indio, CA in 2014. R.I.P. Jeff. You are missed.