Photos by Ale Sharpton (@AleSharpton) unless otherwise noted
Hip hop has no shortage of gourmands these days, and there are plenty of MCs who enjoy good cocktails and wine. But we’ve had little success tracking down rap-world beer nerds, even though we know they must exist. Part of the problem is that it’s just not cool yet to reference double IPAs on a track the way artists shout out riesling and cognac. We’ll get there one day—we just have to convince Kanye that “saison, no Stella” rhymes with “Maison Martin Margiela.”
Brewing and emceeing share many core values—most notably, the importance of respecting tradition while adding your own flair. So when Ale Sharpton—our man on the ground in Atlanta—told us about Willie The Kid, a hops-loving MC from Grand Rapids, MI, we knew we had to get them together for a tasting.
Rap fans may remember Willie from his cameos on Lil Wayne’s Dedication 2 and Dedication 3 mixtapes, as well as DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz: The Album. He’s collaborated with everyone from Nas to Diddy to Busta Rhymes, and his latest projects include The Living Daylight mixtape and a collaborative EP with Alchemist called The Masterpiece Theater.
When he’s not ripping mics though, you might find Willie bending an elbow at a beer bar, sipping a chocolaty stout or waxing poetic about hops and malts. Recently, Ale took him to one of his favorite craft-beer bar in Atlanta, the Brick Store, to sample some brews. Check out Willie’s impressive tasting notes, suggested food pairing, and rapper-beer comparisons.
Westbrook White Thai
Ale’s beer choice: “I started light and spicy with the Westbrook White Thai witbier so that the palate would not be dominated. It’s a complex beer despite the low ABV, and it’s a good representative of canned craft-beer boom.” (South Carolina, 5% ABV)
Willie The Kid smells: “It’s citrusy, and has some ginger kind of smell to it.”
Willie The Kid’s tasting notes: “Oh yeah, I landed that one. It is citrusy. I get some grass—like lemongrass—too. It’s also bright and really light. Refreshing.”
Willie The Kid’s pairing suggestion: “This makes me think grilled chicken. Definitely. It’s hot outside and you don’t want nothing too heavy. With its brightness and lemon flavors, it could also [be used to] marinate the chicken, along with some thyme and rosemary.”
What MC would Willie The Kid compare this beer to? “The yellow can goes with me choosing a light-skinned brother. Ha! Let’s go with the homey J. Cole, who is also bright and intelligent.”
Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
Ale’s beer choice: “Next up was the Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale out of Kansas City. This is one of the best breweries in my opinion, so why not pick the farmhouse ale?” (Kansas City, MO; 8.5% ABV)
Willie The Kid smells: “I can smell the hops in this one. That’s the first thing that hits my nose.”
Willie The Kid’s tasting notes: “Okay, I definitely get some hoppiness—grapefruit, floral, a little earthy. I think this is smoother than the Westbrook joint on the finish, and I appreciate that. It’s boozier, too! This is more my style.
Willie The Kid’s pairing suggestion: “Grilling sausage. Chicken-apple sausage that is. No swine my brother. Maybe hit up the bakery and get some fresh bread, make a dope sandwich, nawmean?”
What MC would Willie The Kid compare this beer to? “Tech N9ne! You can taste how this beer is proud to be from Kansas City, but it’s gangster. He is homegrown from Kansas City and reps where he’s at. Plus, he is complex like this beer.”
Wild Heaven Ode To Mercy Imperial Brown
Ale’s beer choice: “I had to show some local Atlanta love, so I picked Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy Imperial Brown Ale to rep the city.” (Atlanta, GA; 8.2% ABV)
Willie the Kid smells: “I am more of a stout, dark ale kind of guy. I get some coffee and caramel; it hints at chocolate but it is not quite there. More coffee.”
Willie the Kid’s tasting notes: “The initial taste is getting a little smoky on me. The smell threw me off because I thought it would be sweeter. It is actually a little more on the bitter side. This one is smooth though—I got some bittersweet chocolate at the end, and some toffee.”
Willie The Kid’s pairing suggestion: “This definitely would be paired with a chocolate, something dark. I am thinking like a mousse or a dark-chocolate cheesecake with a caramel drizzle. This is like a dessert beer.”
What MC would Willie The Kid compare this beer to? “This is a female MC right here. I’m going with Nicki Minaj, for real. The mocha, sweetness, smooth… she can be all those things, but once you get on her bitter side, watch out.”
Founders KBS Imperial Breakfast Stout
Ale’s beer choice: “I had to go with something from Willie’s home town, so the Brick Store blessed us with the 2011 version of coveted Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Boom!” (Grand Rapids, MI; 11.2%)
Willie The Kid smells: “That’s the smell I love right there. That coffee, some smoke, and a little bit of woodiness in this one, plus some sweetness. This has everything I appreciate in a stout. This is crazy.”
Willie The Kid’s tasting notes: “This is really smooth. It almost reminds me of a cognac just by how smooth it is. You sip this like [a spirit], too. And the taste is not very imposing, but on the back end, it’s a little on the sweet side—dark chocolate, a little hint of bourbon, silky. This is my type of beer. Absolutely!”
Willie The Kid’s pairing suggestion: “I would like this solo, but it would definitely pair well with a dark chocolate-based dessert as well. This is dessert in a glass already though.”
What MC would Willie The Kid compare this beer to? “Let’s see…it’s smooth, dark, and this KBS is no BS, so that’s me, son! I am from Grand Rapids, too. Yep! After a bottle of this, you’re like, ‘I feel this dude.’ Plus, it’s exclusive—not your everyday beer. I’m not your everyday MC.”
Follow Willie The Kid on Twitter (@theWILLIETHEKID)