Photograph of Hanson © Jiro Schneider
F&W apologizes in advance for reintroducing the almost unbearably catchy song “MMMBop” back into your psyche. But the 1997 mega-hit from Hanson, the pop band made up of brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, has to be mentioned because of a new side project that you would probably never have associated with the baby-faced group: beer. In honor of the band’s 21-year existence, Hanson is releasing Mmmhops, a pale ale produced in partnership with Mustang, a craft brewery based in the Hansons’ home state of Oklahoma. Before it hits the shelves across the country, Mmmhops will be sold on the band’s upcoming tour starting in September. Middle brother and lead singer (as well as keyboardist and guitar player) Taylor Hanson chatted with F&W about good beer and yet another talent, cooking.
What does Mmmhops taste like?
It’s a really full-bodied pale ale. There’s a touch of roasted quality to it. It’s almost nutty. It’s got a good hoppy flavor—but not too crazy. We wanted it to be the type of beer that you’ll enjoy if you don’t think you’re into craft beers. It’s very drinkable. People will try it first because they’ll be like, “OK, I have to try Hanson’s beer, this is ridiculous.” And then they’ll be like, “This is actually really good.”
What are your favorite craft beers?
My personal favorite is Fat Tire; I love the amber ale. It’s very full-bodied. It’s got a nice long finish to it. I almost always lean toward ambers and pale ales. But I like everything from the Dogfish Head to Three Floyds, Tröegs to Stone’s Arrogant Bastard. I’m a huge Sierra Nevada fan. I think Sierra Nevada pale ale is the closest thing to the flavor of Mmmhops. Any time the beer gets malty, I tend to not be as much as a fan. But I do like Anchor Steam and that is on the maltier side. That’s the one exception.
What was the first beer you ever had?
Something terrible, I’m sure. Probably in the Bud Light family, where you drink it and you think, Now, tell me again, why do people like this? I was probably 13. I love to cook and I think I discovered craft beer for the first time in the context of good food. Beer and cooking go so well together.
What’s your go-to meal to cook and what would you pair with it?
I love Italian food because of the simplicity and really great flavors. I love a good risotto. I love to cook a rack of lamb with just fresh herbs and fresh unsalted butter. That’s all you need. If you have good-quality meat and salt and pepper, parsley, sage, thyme—you’re done. With that I think you can have a lighter beer, a pilsner or something that’s a little fruitier. A Blue Moon would be really nice with that kind of meal.
What’s your favorite beer bar in Tulsa?
We have quite a few really good bars in Tulsa, but I have to say my favorite is the corner bar in my neighborhood called Valkyrie. It’s run by a group of guys who keep pulling in great new craft beers. One of the things about a great bar is being able to have that one-on-one with your bartender, who can go, “Check this out, you haven’t had this before.” And you actually trust that they’re going to hand you something that you’re not going to send back. They’re pushing what they think you’ll actually dig.
Are there any plans for a follow-up beer or spirit?
We have an IPA that we’ve had the pleasure of working on with our brewmaster, and it is amazing. This is a beer that will stop any beer snob in their tracks. I think that the pale ale is a great, drinkable beer but for those who want to go further, we’ll launch an Mmmhops-with-a-few-extra-mmm’s IPA. My non-beer poison would be tequila, which is dangerous. We’d need a song with a little more Latin flavor to name it.