The problem with getting liquored up with the Hanson brothers — yes, the "MMMBop" boys — is that you can't get that tune out of your head the entire time you're talking to them. Or for days after. Apologies for the ear worm.
The only consolation is that they're no longer boys, which makes the whole affair seem less icky. Because when you say to yourself, "I'm going drinking with Hanson," the mental image is of pounding back a few with the bouncy preteens from those "ba du bop, ba duba dop" music video days. Luckily, like the rest of us, they grew up. And it turns out, they grew into really nice guys who not only are still making music, they also are pleasantly obsessed with craft beer.
So obsessed, in fact, that they've launched their own, a pale ale. Care to guess the name? Give it a moment. You'll get there. Think... That's right. You can now pop open an Mmmhops (tagline: From the Guys That Invented Mmmbop). Which is how I recently found myself at a whiskey bar, huddled around a bottle of Jefferson Rye with Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson.
Their music careers have chugged along pleasantly since 1997, the year "MMMBop" was seared into our pop ethos. Careers quiet by industry standards, yet robust enough with a fervent fan core to keep the brothers happy. Meanwhile, 18 years of tours and time on the road means they've sampled a whole lot of good (and bad) beer. (You can do the math. They are 34, 32 and 30, respectively, and are pretty shameless about how long they've been sipping suds.)
"We traveled the world as kids and we got turned on to great beer," said Isaac Hanson. "At some point you decide to take something you really like and turn it into a business you love."
A few years ago — around the same time they launched the Hop Jam beer and music festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma — they started playing around with making their own beer. The brothers found they not only enjoyed the process, but the results weren't so bad, either. So at the end of their 2013 tour, they put off work on a new album to focus on brewing. Eventually, they contracted with Mustang Brewing Company in Oklahoma City to make the operation legit and today Mmmhops — winner of a gold medal from the Beverage Tasting Institute in 2014 — is available in 16 states.
And though the brothers — now all married and all with multiple children — see their music and beer in a symbiotic relationship, they're not averse to the thrill of one outshining the other.
"Hey! We won a gold medal for our beer before we won a Grammy," said Taylor Hanson. "I'll take that!"
Despite the name the beer isn't overtly hoppy. Because sometimes the pun must lead. But snicker if you will; it's actually a pretty good beer: citrusy, clean tasting and totally drinkable. The brothers see it as an entry point to craft brews, particularly for fans of their music. An odd correlation? Not really. Craft brews, the Hanson brothers and their fans all came of age together. "The fans literally have grown up with us," said Taylor Hanson.
And they soon may have more bottles to choose from. Zac Hanson says the trio is working on additional beers, including a saison, an amber and something a bit hoppier.