Music and beer have a special connection. Fans line up for a show, grab a brew, and nestle into the crowd for a night of music. Bandmates might bookend a gig with a drink or collect some of the bar sales at the end of the night.
Theresa Schirner, managing partner and head brewer at Mirror Image Brew Co. in Frederick, and members of rock outfit Black & White Motion Picture believe this connection runs deeper, though.
“With both music and beer, you have your base elements,” guitarist Tony Greco says. “For music, it’s two guitar players, a bassist, a drummer and a singer, and for beer, it’s hops, yeast, grain and fermentation. With both of them, you tweak classic elements and create style variations, putting your own twist on it and ending up with something new.”
The band has taken these similarities between making music and brewing and collaborated with Schirner to make Retro Heartbreak, a white stout celebrating both the band and her brewery.
The beer, which will be released on March 6, is the first addition to Mirror Image’s Klywood Exploration Series, for which the brewery is allowing local home brewers to use the facility to create and release a beer. Retro Heartbreak was produced in collaboration with home brewers Janti Klimecki and Nick Lockwood.
Josh Eherenman, Tony Greco, Bart McCune and Andrew Kunkle of Black & White Motion Picture met Schirner last year during a brewery tour at Mirror Image. Eherenman noticed that her company had named a number of beers after Queens of the Stone Age songs (a citrus IPA named after "Into the Hollow," and the Belgian Wit named after “Make It Wit Chu”), and he posed the idea of a collaboration. At the time, the band was gearing up to release its self-titled debut album, and COVID’s effect on live music drove the bandmates to seek more creative ways to promote themselves.
Each member of the band, including recent addition keyboardist Arily Michele, are avid beer fans and followers of the craft-beer scene. Eherenman met Greco and started the band while working at the same brewery in 2018, so it's a focal point in the group's history.
Meeting Schirner and the staff at Mirror Image allowed the bandmates to embark on a collaboration that fed two passions at once.
The beer they settled on was unintentionally characteristic of the band’s sound, which cycles between heavy, punk-driven riffs and tempos and radio-friendly hooks. Retro Heartbreak, named after the seventh track on the band's new record, is heavy and packs a punch, as a stout should, but it also goes down easily.
Mirror Image Brewing has a strong affiliation with the award-winning Echo Brewing. Schirner started working for Echo as a bartender in 2015 at the original location in Frederick, and worked her way up to taproom manager and assistant brewer. Eventually she had to leave her position when her husband got a job in Castle Rock. The connections she made had a lasting impact, though. When Echo founders and brothers Dennis and Daniel Richards wanted to expand Colorado Boy, the company that oversees Echo, the Schirners were the first ones they called.
“When we first joined the partnership, we knew we wanted to stay true to Echo's award-winning recipes and brand, but also bring some new things to the table,” Schirner says. “We adjusted a few things on our pizza menu and really dug deep into our own individual style and home brews for inspiration. We decided over time it was best to take the Frederick location in a new direction. I like to push the envelope, add some spunkiness, and it’s been fun to see that through at Mirror Image.”
The name Mirror Image is a spiritual successor to Echo, which was inspired by Dennis and Daniel, who are identical twins, and the ways in which they echo each other as brothers. The name keeps a connection to the original brewery's history and success, but also allows Schirner to experiment with her own personal style.
Since rebranding as Mirror Image in 2019, Schirner and her team have taken away two Great American Beer Festival awards, winning back to back in 2019 and 2020 for their Balefire Irish Red.
With a population of only around 12,000 people, Frederick is a locals-only town, without many bands or breweries to go around; the chance to come together is exciting for everybody involved.
“We don’t really promote our band in traditional ways, so a collaboration like this presents a lot of opportunities, not only for both of us publicity-wise, but for locals to work together and help each other out in a tough time,” Eherenman says. “Beer and music have gone together forever, so we’re just taking it one step further and making it official, in a time where both bands and breweries are hurting.”
Black & White Motion Picture and Mirror Image Brewing's white stout Retro Heartbreak will be available on tap at Mirror Image Brewing, 5969 Iris Parkway, Unit C, in Frederick, on March 6 from 1 to 9 p.m.