Pennywise’s Fletcher Dragge takes a thoughtful swig of beer and licks his lips. He’s trying to come up with the right words to describe its flavor.

“It doesn’t taste like vodka, which is my usual drink of choice,” the Pennywise guitarist says. “I’d say it’s a cross between a Budweiser and a grapefruit.”

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Dragge pauses for a moment, as if for dramatic effect. Then he leans in, chuckling: “I’m kind of kidding.”

Dragge spoke to Amplify Friday night as he and his bandmates were hanging at The Standing Room in their hometown of Hermosa Beach, California to celebrate the release of “Pennywiser,” a new Session IPA they produced with Lost Coast Brewery. The craft beer will be available in Southern California stores, bars and restaurants beginning in early September.

Pennywise members for as many as 20 years considered creating a beer that represented their lifestyle of punk rock and fun times, but for one reason or another it just didn’t happen – until now.

Says Dragge: “We drink a lot of beer. We figured if we have our own beer, then we’d have an unlimited supply.”

Fletcher Dragge

Pennywise follows a slew of rock, metal and punk musicians who have teamed up with breweries to create signature beers that reflect their roots, image and sound. Bands and beers appear to be a natural collaboration that is ripe with potential in terms of marketing, promotion and profits.

Kid Rock, for instance, put out “Badass American Lager” in his native Michigan, according to Loudwire. AC/DC created a pale lager in a pint-sized can called “Australian Hardrock” (“If you wanna rock hard, you need the right beer,” the drink’s website points out).

Pearl Jam has a fruit beer called “Faithfull Ale,” which the band crafted with Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the “Ten” album.

Pennywiser upon first glance looks as imposing as the six-foot-five Dragge himself. It comes in a one pint, six-ounce brown bottle that, from the looks of it, holds a lot of brew.

But when you look closely at the label, it is – much like Dragge – pragmatic and clever. The tag line under the Pennywiser name reads, “The Bro-Hymn of Beers.”

“Bro Hymn” and “Bro Hymn Tribute” are 1991 and 1997 Pennywise songs, respectively. The latter is about the deaths of several friends, including former bassist Jason Thirsk.

“If I hated it, I’d tell them,” says friend Scott Sheleretis while drinking Pennywiser. He grew up with the boys in Hermosa Beach and was the best man at drummer Byron McMakin’s wedding. “I’m brutally honest, which gets me in trouble. I hate IPAs. But this one, I can drink.”

Adds Rob Morgan of West Torrence, California: “I’m a friend and fan of beer.”

Pennywiser was made with Cascade, Crystal, Chinook and Citra hops, the band’s website says.

The site further describes the story behind the beer.

“Known for their irreverence, independence, and doing things their own way, Pennywise remained true to their roots and their fans when developing “Pennywiser,” focusing on creating a unique brew that’s easy to drink and appeals to a wide range of beer drinkers.”

Dragge says the band aimed to make Pennywiser a hoppy IPA that was light enough for people to enjoy a few without getting totally hammered. The beer has an alcohol content of 4.8 percent.

“We wanted something we could drink all day,” Dragge says. “It’s refreshing.”

Pennywise fan Eric Albrecht put down his vodka soda to try Pennywiser.

“It’s not the shit you typically get at concerts,” says Albrecht after a hearty first swallow. “It’s good quality beer.”

Pennywise just finished a festival tour in Europe and Japan. The band is gearing up for Canada’s Music 4 Cancer Festival Sept. 14; Chicago’s Riot Fest Sept. 15-17; and San Diego’s Scallywag! festival Oct. 21.

Pennywise is scheduled to tour Australia in October and November.

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She's covered everything from from crime to politics to fitness. Writing about bands and shows takes her back to the days of going to punk rock shows in the Midwest.
Maggie O'Brien

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