Brewer's Playlist Volume 8: Larry Clouser of Pono Brewing
In our eighth Brewer's Playlist we interview, Larry Clouser, Brewer at Pono Brewing in Portland, Oregon. This column explores how music influences brewers in their quest to produce unique and delicious beers. At the end of the interview, a curated Spotify Playlist from Larry is available for the public to listen to. Enjoy.
Q. How did you get into craft beer?
A. I literally stumbled into it. I had just moved to Tucson, AZ from Portland to go to school and found out a good chunk of my credits weren’t transferable. I went out drinking at one of the only 3 craft beer places in Tucson one night and liked the place a lot since it had a little bit of the feel from Portland. I woke up the next day and went in to apply for a job since I decided to put school on hold for a bit and the owner hired me to be an assistant brewer solely for the reason I was from Portland since when he visited Portland a year or two earlier it gave him the idea to open up a brewpub. My position as assistant brewer quickly became head brewer and the rest is history.
Q. How has music influenced your brewing?
A. Music plays a big role in brewing. Sometimes it influences a recipe but a lot of times I will choose music based on the type of beer being brewed. Darker beers usually bring out the harder stuff with the lighter beers having easier melodies being played.
Q. What type of music do you like to listen to while you brew?
A. Since our brand was built on the whole reggae laid back vibe and from experiences/memories from my time in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands and SE Asia, I listen to a lot of reggae and island style music. Naturally all of the Marley family is on the list as well as artists like The Green, Common Kings, J-Boog, Tarrus Riley, etc. as well as more upbeat Cali Roots style like Rebelution and Tribal Seeds and contemporary Hawaiian music. I’m 43 so it’s not uncommon to hear some old school hip-hop, funk, rock, and others on as well. For some reason, darker beers always seem to go well with Metallica, Public Enemy and Rage against the Machine.
Q. Do you listen to a certain type of genre of music?
A. Oops, did I just answer this question in the previous one as well? I listen to a wide variety but reggae and reggae inspired music makes up 75% of what I listen to.
Q. Have you ever brewed a music oriented beer before? If so, please explain what and why?
A. Yes. We have a hoppy pale ale that we make during summer called Small Axe which is the name of one of Bob Marley’s songs. We chose the name because we are the new small guys in a market full of established well known breweries (both macro and craft) and we intend to make a name for ourselves as well. We actually intend to name some of our beers going forward something from the lyrics of songs we like as an ode to the artists that played a role in our lives.
Q. Do you play any instruments?
A. Play might be stretching it but I do own a guitar and an ukulele. I used to be pretty decent at the uke but haven’t had the time lately to pick it up. I could easily use more lessons though!
Q. Who is your favorite musician and why?
A. There are so many great ones from different styles of music but the one I listen to most is Bob Marley. (Bet you would have never have guessed that!) I think it’s because he took reggae music to the masses and had a positive message.
Q. What was the first concert you went to?
A. This is going to contradict everything I have said up to this point and throw you for a loop! Back when I was either in Jr. High or early High School, my brother got tickets to go see a Christian rock group called Stryper. Yes, these were the guys that wore yellow and black and looked like bumblebee’s. It wasn’t my thing but taught me to respect other things than Hip-Hop/Rap Music which is all I was listening to at the time. Since then I have come to learn that Sean at the Beermonger’s has some fond memories of Stryper too!
Q. What was the most recent concert you went to?
A. Man, it’s been a while. I think the last concert I went to was 2 years ago. My wife and I went to see Tribal Seed’s and we were let down since the band had a falling out with one of it’s members and they weren’t as good. Looks like I’m due to take in some concerts!
Q. How do you discover new music?
A. I’ll use either Apple Music or Amazon Prime Music to create playlists from bands that I like to discover new ones. I can’t remember the last time I actually turned the actual radio on to listen to anything.
Q. What are your favorite online/offline resources for learning new brewing techniques and ingredients?
A. Back during a previous job I would listen to podcasts a lot when I traveled but after switching over to running a brewery, I don’t have as much time. Because Denny Conn and Drew Beechum are friends of mine, I used to listen to their podcast called Experimental Brewing and was more like a heckler which is probably why they had me on it a few times to shut me up! Portland is a great place to brew in, so if there is a technique I may not be familiar with or have never tried before, I ask around. In the past, Ben Edmunds of Breakside, Ben and Van at Gigantic and Sean Burke back when he was with The Commons have been very helpful. Because we share a space now and use Zoiglhaus’s facility, the guys there are great. Alan Taylor is a great resource during our “new guys to the industry” phase. The BA has a lot of great resources as well but it’s easy to get lost in their wealth of knowledge.
Q. What are you excited about coming up at your brewery?
A. To date we have only made one dark beer which was really a cream ale that we kettle stained to trick the pallet so I am excited to finally come out with some dark beers and barrel aged beers. We just threw a very successful event called Shandytown that had great feedback so we can’t wait for next year’s. Currently we are wholesale to bars/restaurants only, so we are looking at opening a few tasting rooms around town since all of our followers keep asking where they can go to just drink our beer in our tasting room (all boils down to money and financing). We will also be putting in a few 20 BBL fermenters soon as well. We kind of got skipped over by a lot of the media because we started out contract brewing even though we were doing the work, so once everything is switched over to A/P shortly, it will be nice to level the playing field.
Q. Spotify Playlist- Choose 10-20 songs you listen to while you brew?