Why in the world is Michael Wilton making beer?

WHIPALElogoIf Michael Wilton is famous, it certainly isn’t for making beer. Over the last twenty-five years, he’s been making platinum records, not golden ales. Virtually everyone in the free world has heard him play guitar at some point. At the very least, you’ve heard Silent Lucidity or Jet City Woman. But why in the world is Michael Wilton making beer? More accurately, why is Lazy Boy Brewing making a beer on his behalf?

Michael Wilton is a founding member of, and guitar player for, the world-renowned rock band Queensryche (a.k.a. the little band from Bellevue that conquered the world). In the old neighborhood, my gang knew him as the guy who played guitar for bands like Joker, Crossfire, and The Mob. In those days, I played bass in a band called Tyrus, later renamed Blue Dragon, and eventually reinvented as The Flying Clam Jam. Back in those days, Michael Wilton was Mike and Geoff Tate was Jeff,  but I digress.

I’m trying pretty hard to think of a segue to get us from Michael Wilton to beer. Let’s see, I remember drinking warm Rainier Beer in the parking lot of the Lake Hills Roller Rink when he was playing one of those Battle of the Bands gigs. Ya, I don’t think I’m going to find that segue.

With a lot of help from Lazy Boy Brewing, Michael “Whip” Wilton is staged to release Whip Ale — a bold, rich, aromatic pale ale. I understand that he did the research and devised the recipe himself. There is a big release party coming up in Kirkland on December 11th. The details are below.

The release party will feature a lot of local, loud music. In fact, one of my buddies from the old neighborhood in Bellevue is playing in one of the bands – Hairmageddon. I’m usually getting in trouble for ripping on the Eastside. Feels kind of good to stand up and REPRESENT for a change.

This image shamelessly borrowed from www.queensrychehistory.com
This image shamelessly borrowed from www.queensrychehistory.com

Still, I must wonder why Michael Wilton is making beer? If I were a big rock star, there’s a lot of things I’d want to do, but I’m not sure that commissioning a beer is one of them. I suppose the trappings of rock stardom might grow passé after awhile. I suppose that, in time, I might grow weary of private jets, arenas full of screaming fans, and European hotel suites full of beautiful girls with names I cannot pronounce.  There’s only so much satisfaction one can gain from a room full of vintage Gibson guitars. I would truly love to find out how long it would take me to grow tired of such worldly pleasures and treasures. Maybe then I’d take interest in something so earthbound as making a beer.


Maybe it’s one of those guitar player/lead singer rivalry things. After all, Geoff Tate is making wine these days. Maybe Mike just wants to throw a kegger out at 80 acres, then head up to Crossroads to see Adam Brenner’s band, Tyrant. Now that’s some seriously old-school, Eastside, pre-Microsoft, rocker jargon.

Maybe he just likes good beer. A lot of other 40-something butt-rockin guys who grew up in Bellevue back in the day certainly do.

I was turned onto this story by Shawn Loring at Lazy Boy Brewing. There’s also a story about Whip Ale on the Northwest Beer Guide (a.k.a. the Pickled Liver). Read it here.

The following is straight from www.michaelwilton.com.

New Beverage from Michael ‘Whip’ Wilton of Queensryche – “WHIP ALE”

For those of you lucky enough to be in the North West on Friday December 11th, you can be one of the first to sample “Whip Ale” the new beer from Michael Wilton of Queensryche. The ingredients for this new pale ale were chosen by Michael himself andthe taste is a smoothwell flavored blend that is comparable to today’s top ales on the market.

Whip Ale will be distributed nationally in 2010.

For an advance tasting of this fine beverage, drop by club Valhalla in Kirkland on Friday, December 11 @ 7:30 pm PST. Please note: Michael will be showing up to this event but will not be performing live.

Event: Official Launch Party of “Whip Ale”
Venue: Valhalla
Address: 8544 122nd Ave NE
City: Kirkland
State: Washington
Date: Friday, December 11, 2009
Time: 7:30 pm PST
Show: 21 +
Cover: Free Admission
Kevin Hoffman (Outshined, Rattlesnake Suitcase)
Dirty Hollywood (Motley Crue Tribute)
Guns of Nevada
Midnight Idols


  1. Dude!! Maybe Michael is a beer geek just like most of us who read this blog. Being a musician, he has an artistic shriek in him so maybe he just wants to create something other than music. Now if the beer is crap, that’s another thing. Otherwise, making a joyful noise about good beer can’t ever be a bad thing. Hopefully it might get someone to switch from warm Rainier to something better.


  2. I stopped drinking warm Rainier as soon as I could get my hands on something else. I’m quite certain that he’s doing this because he likes good beer. After all, it’s not like Gordon Biersch is making the beer for him. He’s aligned with a top notch brewery.

    I expect comments will point out historical inaccuracies. I think I got it all straight, but man that was a lot of brain cells ago.

  3. Hey jinx46: Yes, I can say those words. As soon as more information about the beer is available, rest assured you will find it here. Nothing but the facts – plain and objective. There was a press release that I basically included in the post. Other than that, we all await more information about this most mysterious brew.

    In the meantime, I reserve the right to be bitter and jealous, petty and vindictive, sour and abrasive, mean and abusive. Heck, maybe I’ll even try my hand at being humorous and satirical. Apparently I need to work on that.

    Thanks for chiming in.

  4. I loved this article, which I read with delight, then I read the comments, then the article again, in an attempt to excavate the bitterness & jealousy. To No Avail. I found it charming, nostalgic, and anticipatory and if I were Michael Wilton, I’d be just tickled pink that someone had taken the time to do up a big (additional) press release on my beer’s behalf.

    Oh AND, huge rocker that I was, from the same era and same eastside, did NOT recognize the name, Michael Wilton (not a huge fan of Queensryche…) so if anything, washingtonbeerblog did the guy a favor.

    wabeerblogger, stay as bitter as you are. We love you.

  5. I went to the launch party last night. I don’t know Michael, (a friend I went with does), but here’s my review. Whip Ale was… well… good. Very nice! Not the best I’ve ever had, but a FAR cry from the worst too.

    It’s extremely drinkable, I’d say that’s the high point. It’s the kind of handcrafted beer that you can sit down and easily drink several pints of without feeling filled or overpowered. it was semi-hoppy but not over hoppy or over malty either. Just nicely balanced… I’d almost say it’s a bit herbal. For me, this would be a go-to beer if it were on tap in a pub, and I wasn’t interested in weighing myself down with the Porters and Stouts I generally like. Last night, I tried my first pint, but when I went back to the bar, I ordered it again, it was better than anything else Valhalla had on tap for sure… by a long shot.

    I’m no beer officionado, BUT I do know a decent beer when I taste it, and Whip Ale was a decent, solid, easy drinking ale. I’d guess that if you put it on tap in a lot of pubs, it would sell quite well… it has that easy drinking quality that say, Georgetown Brewing’s, Manny’s has (although tastes nothing like Mannys)

  6. Kudos to Michael. Not only does he inspire us with his non stop musical adventures,,,he is now offering us a drink as well. I will be looking forward to the time when this beer will be available on the East Coast (New York).I am sure that just as it is with his music, he has put his heart into this product.If he is putting his name behind the beer, I would bet to say that it is of top quality. I have heard that there will be more interesting beverages to come from Mr Wilton in the near future, and I personally wish him nothing but the best.Long Live The Whipmaster…..

  7. I hope it all goes well for him, but if your wondering why Mike would create a beer it is because he is no longer a big rockstar anymore so he is expanding into many different things while he is still somewhat relevant so he isnt a bum in 20 years.

    private jets- qr has one bus
    arenas full of screaming fans- they tour small clubs besides on the west coast
    girls in hotels- they tour 5 nights in a row and take a break on day 6… repeat this process 20 times

  8. this article is ooozing with author’s envy. now that you got that out of the way, how about writing a review after you actually try it. you just might like it.

    P.S. how about attaching your actual name to your next article?!

  9. I did a review of the Whip Ale on December 11th, 2009, but I am sure it is oozing with something unpleasant as well. Thanks for stopping by the blog and have a nice day, Mr. Satan.

  10. I found the bottled version to be unremarkable. But your comments about the Lake City Roller Rink behind 7-11 brought back dirty memories. We probably saw Joker and some of the same gigs. Like the Tam-O-Shanter clubhouse show? Remember when Rail & Co lived and/or practiced not far around the corner on 165th? That was so long before Hello All You People…
    Adam Bomb, Shadow, Perennial… It’s all comin’ back to me.

Comments are closed.