Music is omnipresent. It accompanies us on morning commutes, on windows-down drives through the countryside, and through air travel over oceans. It provides the soundtrack to great parties, bad breakups, days in, and nights out. More than just a tangible stimulus, music affects our moods — and our beer.
In many professions, music can play an integral role. At breweries, it can inspire creativity; alleviate the monotony and loneliness of an overnight shift; or give taproom patrons a sense of a brewery’s identity or vibe.
With that in mind, we asked 10 brewers what tunes they’re playing in the brewhouse or taproom.
“We’ve been on an angsty Irish and British punk/post-punk kick. One of the best shows I’ve ever been to was Fontaines D.C. with IDLES earlier this year, and both have earned regular spots in the rotation since. Going down the Irish punk rabbit hole in particular recently has brought the likes of Silverbacks, Just Mustard, and the Murder Capital to name a few. There’s something about depressing music that reminds me that our jobs are usually pretty fun.” — Joe Connolly, Director, Springdale Beer, Framingham, MA
“We have a steady flow of ska music that plays as our brewhouse soundtrack, usually infused with reggae, punk rock, and some rockabilly, too. We’ve listened to a lot of Rancid throwbacks this year especially.” — Kurt Randall, Head Brewer, Ska Brewing, Durango, CO
“My dad, Papa Ron, works a lot in the brewery before we open and plays ‘60s and ‘70s country jams, so you hear a lot of the Everly Brothers and Johnny Cash. During taproom hours, expect a heavy rotation of Drive-By Truckers, Chatham County Line, Chris Stapleton, Shovels & Rope and the likes. We even made a Spotify playlist so our customers can daydream they’re in the taproom while they’re really just at work. We primarily choose Americana, country, bluegrass, etc., because this is the music myself and my brother, another co-owner of Seedstock, grew up with. It’s in our blood and in our beer. This straightforward craftsmanship of Americana music inspires us to create straightforward beer for the hardworking folk.” — Jason Abbott, Brewer, Seedstock, Denver, CO
“Music in the warehouse is always very interesting. Our employees don’t wear headphones for safety reasons, so we have a large speaker in the center of the warehouse that can be heard from all corners. But some of them also have individual speakers in their stations. Walking around, you can hear a wide range of music. For instance, this morning Stevie Wonder is playing over the loudspeaker, but I also heard some GoldLink (underground hip hop) and Amy Winehouse, all in my morning walk-through.” —Heather Franchini, Production Coordinator, Belching Beaver, San Diego, CA
“Morning mash in [is] William Basinski’s ‘Watermusic.’ Phish, Jerry Garcia Band, Four Tet, Erykah Badu are on heavy rotation. Droning (mashing) out is Sleep (a ‘stoner metal band’). But the best tunes are when we shut off the Sonos, open the garage bay, and delve into the deep forest cuts of our home in Newcastle.” —Tyler “T2” Silvde, Brewer, Oxbow Brewing, Newcastle, ME
“Tool, Grateful Dead, Poolside, down tempo beats and most importantly, funk! Looking at what I listened to today I’ve got The Cactus Channel, Run the Jewels, Stephan Bodzin, Bonobo, Dave Brubeck Quartet, and Fela Kuti in heavy rotation. I mix it up quite a bit, but that’s a pretty good cross section. Some funk, jazz, Afrobeat, hip-hop, down tempo, blues, and techno are bound to be on the playlist. Gotta change up the music at least as often as the tap board.” — Allen Anderson, Lead Brewer, Station 26 Brewing Co., Denver, CO
“With two teams, one in each location (San Diego and Bell), our brewers at each location have varying tastes in music. [Our] Bell location [shares] the sound system with front of house, [so] our brewers only get to choose their jams for the mornings, and it usually consists of classic rock legends like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Cream, Heroes del Silencio; or hip-hop’s greatest like 2Pac, Biggie, E40, Mac Dre, Kendrick Lamar… anything that gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing to start the day off right is what they enjoy the most. Front of house usually changes it up to either some rock en español, cumbia, or Latin jazz. — Steven Terán, Production Manager/Head of Education, Border X Brewing, San Diego, CA
“Brewing music doesn’t have to be loud and fast, but it has to have intensity. We listen to a lot of indie/psych rock: LCD Soundsystem, Ty Segall, Khruangbin, TV on the Radio, The Growlers, Kikagaku Moyo, Parquet Courts, The Modern Lovers, Pixies, Built to Spill, Dead Milkmen. Bottling days are pretty nerdy: Weird Al & They Might be Giants. Fridays are ‘Fela Fridays’: Fela Kuti, William Onyeabor, and the Spotify Afrobeat station. Songwriters: Bonnie Prince Billy, Andrew Bird, Elliot Smith. Ridiculous bands that are undeniably catchy: Rush, AC/DC, Van Halen, and Hall & Oates. Hip-hop: Jurassic 5, Tribe, Outkast, and The Fugees.” — Sean White, Head Brewer & Founder, Little Fish Brewing Company, Athens, OH
“[For] our production team of six, the top bands and genres are: The Slackers, Modest Mouse, Phish, Rihanna, TV on the Radio, and New Orleans Brass.” — Christian Koch, Head Brewer, Elevation Beer Company, Poncha Springs, CO
“I have a reputation for not listening to anything in the brewery! But that is false, as I only play music while alone to save my work mates from my ‘70s and ‘80s punk and hardcore preferences: Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Naked Raygun, Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers. [Yeah], I’m old and I need something uptempo to get me through a brew day. If my coworkers are around, it switches to ‘80s and ‘90s indie rock: Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Archers of Loaf, Replacements, Husker Du, Red Red Meat. We name many beers after songs from these bands. Also, jam bands are forbidden, forever, always.” — Chris Lohring, Owner, Notch Brewing, Salem, MA