The Twin Cities-based choir gets together over a shared love of beer and song.
Beer and singing make for good buddies. Any rock vocalist worth their salt will keep a brew on stage. Performing karaoke without any lubrication is practically unheard of. And in some countries, the drinking songs are as popular as the national anthem. Sure, alcohol isn’t technically good for your vocal chords, but without its inhibition lowering qualities, you might not use those vocal chords at all. So since 2015, one national organization has been encouraging people to combine beer and singing to the fullest: Beer Choir.
Beer Choir first formed a couple years ago when St Louis-based choral conductor, composer and craft beer enthusiast Michael Engelhardt had an epiphany. “What if I could combine 2 of my favorite things: Beer and Choir?” he writes on the group’s official website. “On the surface, Beer Choir seems simple enough. ‘Let's gather with friends, have a few beers, a lot of laughs, and sing together in some organized fashion.’ But there's more to it than that.” Beyond the obvious joys of drinking and singing, Engelhardt also speaks to the benefits of bringing choir, a relatively lost art form, into a less formal public setting. “Bring choir to the people!” he exclaims.
That message has proven effective. Engelhardt has encouraged others to create their own official chapters, and 17 now exist, from New York to Washington and plenty of states in between. To get things rolling, he provides everyone with an official “Beer Choir Hymnal.” It includes a number he penned himself called the “Beer Choir Theme Song” featuring very straightforward lyrics like “The Beer Choir is the choir that sings while drinking beer. So bottoms up! Cheers! Let's sing while drinking beer!” Other songs included a Sound of Music-inspired parody called “Dough-Ray-Me,” as well as plenty of traditional drinking songs from places known for that sort of thing like Ireland and Germany. (You can download the whole hymnal online.)
At this point, Beer Choir has almost become a victim of its own success. The organization has garnered so much attention that Engelhardt can’t even keep up with applications for new chapters. “Due to the ridiculous volume of requests, we are temporarily suspending our application process except for those who have already applied or been specifically invited to apply by us directly,” he writes. As a result, if you don’t currently have a Beer Choir chapter in your hometown, you may be waiting awhile. Still, if Beer Choir has taught us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t let that stop you from drinking beer and singing in public.