Beer, rock to shake up Wildwood on 4/20

Grateful Dead cover band Winterland to play a show that coincides with the release of new brew from Franklin Street.


Patrick Brickel "


Adrian Enzastiga, Arts Reporter

Throughout the ages, college students and mature adults alike have enjoyed the taste of malted barley, yeast, and water. Beer: a beloved drink passed down since medieval times.

Additionally, though not so ancient, the Grateful Dead has invaded the souls of countless Dead Heads around the nation.

Eastern Iowa’s very own Grateful Dead cover band, Winterland, will play at Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon on Saturday to coincide with the release of a special brew from Franklin Street Brewing Co. of Manchester, Iowa. The brewery is owned by brothers Chad and Kyle Sands.

The brew that they came up with is called Winterland High Time Wit. Chad Sands described it as an “easy drinker” with less than 5.5 percent alcohol.

“The beer that we came up with is a Belgian witbier brewed with hemp seed, some chamomile, and coriander,” Sands said. “We used a Mandarina hop to give it even more floral flavors and aromas. There are several apple flavors, hints of banana and clove. It gives it a real summer feel.”

The beer will be released at the brewery taproom in Manchester and in Wildwood before being sent out to the company’s usual distributors.

When it opened almost five years ago, there were only around 20 breweries in the state. The brewing industry has taken off since then, after the state passed legislation to allow brewers to brew beers above 5 percent alcohol.

“That’s a lot of different beer, and some better than others, honestly, but there’s a lot of really good beer being brewed in Iowa,” Sands said. “It’s exciting to be part of that tremendous growth. It might be tough to get into a place because tap lines are full, but that just strives us to brew even better beer, so I think it’s helpful because there is a lot of diversity, different beers, different styles. The competition is friendly in nature.”

The Sands started slowly by home-brewing for a few years.

“[Kyle] bought me a home-brew kit for one Christmas like 15 years ago, and we started, grew out of his kitchen, grew out of his garage and pretty soon,” Sands said. “We home-brewed first and moved into the business second. It was just a random birthday gift; [brewering] wasn’t in the family or anything. We picked it up on our own.”

Sands said the brewery often has bands play, and Winterland has been a fan favorite.

“I’m a huge Grateful Dead fan and there’s a huge pocket of Grateful Dead fans in Manchester,” he said. “We got talking that we should do a beer for them to celebrate them coming to our place and playing all the time. We wanted a hemp-based beer to release on April 20, and it turns out they are playing a show in Iowa City that day.”

Winterland lead singer and guitarist Stacy Webster is a self-taught musician who has played in numerous bands. He said he loves playing at the brewery in Manchester.

“The Franklin Street brewery up in Manchester owned by the Sands Brothers — a while back, they approached us about doing a special beer in our name,” he said. “We were, of course, honored by that and went with it. Then it turns out they wanted to do the release on 4/20 up in Manchester at their brewery, and we already had a show booked, so I talked to the folks at Wildwood and they were super-happy to bring the beer in, so they’ll have it on tap there.”

Winterland will play the show the Grateful Dead did on April 20, 1969, at Clark University that features songs from their album Aoxomoxoa.

“We were asked to do it because it’s 4/20. We chose the ’69 show because the songs are rarely played from that era,” Webster said. “It’s an interesting show because they played a bunch of tunes off the album that they released at the time, tunes that they rarely ever played live. They busted out acoustic guitars for the last two songs of the set, which is weird: playing an electric set that starts off really wild and woolly and ends on two acoustic songs.”

The ’69 show was short enough that they have time for two more sets, one that incorporates acoustic guitars and another set of of their own making.

Webster started Winterland in 2013 as a side project, but he now describes it as his “busiest project.” They play roughly 10 shows per month all around the Midwest with a 10-day tour in Colorado this summer.

“[Cover bands] bore me; playing somebody else’s music note for note, as a musician, isn’t very satisfying, but this project gives me the same sort of feeling I get when I play original music, because it’s so open for interpretation,” he said. “They do it in their own way in the moment. They have this huge catalog of music, but we use the lyrics, and we use the melody and stuff, but everything else is open to interpretation; it’s all improvisation. It’s creatively satisfying.”