In Suds & Sounds we turn the spotlight on breweries, focusing on the role of music in that brewery’s history, packaging, tastes, and in its city or town as a whole. The idea is to get beer and music lovers to connect with a side of the brewery that may often go overlooked, but one that we think is absolutely vital. To accomplish this, we are talking to the brewers themselves about their own love of music and the role it plays in how they approach their beer. And who knows, maybe we’ll even talk to a musicians from time to time to give a perspective from the other side.
When it comes to beer, Chicago is the place to be these days as it has been experiencing an explosion of exciting new breweries in recent years. On the Windy City’s West Side one of the newest breweries to open plays direct tribute to the bands that inspired it. Founded by third-generation Chicago native Mark Legenza, On Tour Brewing Company is built on the very foundations of the idea that live music and beer go hand in hand. Indeed, good music should be enjoyed with good beer, and the brewery’s German Pilsners, Doppelbocks, Belgian Pale Ales and other tasty offerings make a fine companion for soaking up some heady tunes. Since opening in January 2017, the brewery has consistently drawn in the beer and music loving denizens of Chicago with delicious craft beer and the occasional show. Recently, we talked with Founder and Brewer Mark Legenza about what makes On Tour Brewing such a special place both in its community and in the spectrum of craft beer as a whole.
How long have you been brewing and what do you consider your greatest triumph so far as a craft brewer?
I’ve been brewing for 10 years. We’ve had a lot of success in 2017. Winning 2017 Very Small Brewery and Brewmaster of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival was a nice surprise!
Talk about the beer culture a bit in your city. What do people look for in a good beer and what do you hope to provide, and also do you see the beer scene as being linked in any way to the music scene?
In Chicago we have a lot of people following to their own unique journey in beer. It creates an interesting beer scene in that we have all the styles covered locally. Beer and music go hand in hand. We’re seeing a lot more music venues expanding their beer programs to include small producers.
A lot of breweries seem to incorporate their own musical tastes into their packaging and presentation, whether it be a collaboration with a band, a tribute label, or a beer name that references something they like. Has you brewery ever done something like this, and if so can you tell us about it?
We like to have subtle nods to music that inspires us. Whether that be in a label or beer name. Our goal is to almost create a hidden message for someone to find in everything we do. That found message will resonate when discovered and not be off putting to someone outside of the “know”!
In your opinion, is there a particular band or genre that is ideal to listen to while brewing beer?
Hands down the Grateful Dead!
Some breweries have gotten more into music through sponsoring tours, festivals, or even throwing their own versions of those. How do you think live music fits into the fabric of craft beer, and is this something your brewery has done?
We are a very small brewery. We’d love to be involved with sponsoring tours and festivals but that is out of our reach at the moment. Creating music has creativity, passion and energy. There is a unspoken communication happening between the musician and audience. Making beer and sharing with someone has a lot of overlap. People can experience something you deeply care about and translate that experience in many ways.
When naming beers, do you consciously try and reference songs, bands or albums, or do you find you naturally gravitate towards it?
With so many breweries naming beers, the first goal is to pick something that hasn’t been used before! Its very difficult! Try it yourself!
Breweries often collaborate with other breweries for beers. They also have been known to collaborate with musicians. Is there a musician or band that you would love to collaborate with, and if so, what kind of beer do you envision you would brew?
It would be a lot of fun to collaborate with a Chicago-based band like Umphrey’s McGee or Wilco. I would envision the beer to be something very approachable and highly consumable at a show!
On Tour Brewing is located at 1725 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60622. For more info visit ontourbrewing.com.
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