Brewer's Playlist Volume 12: Matt Van Wyk of Alesong Brewing And Blending
In our twelveth Brewer's Playlist, we interview, Matt Van Wyk, Co-Founder, and Brewmaster at Alesong Brewing & Blending in Eugene, 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 Matt is available for the public to listen to. Enjoy.
Q. How did you get into craft beer?
A. I was teaching Science to Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers in the mid-nineties and had the realization that there really was a reason for the Krebs Cycle. I had an epiphany when I realized beer fermentation is actually science and that led to home brewing and beer touring and a whole lot of craft beer exploration. The rest is history.
Q. How has music influenced your brewing?
A. I'm not sure if music influenced my brewing too much in the past, other than just being on in the background daily. But now that we've started Alesong, we really look at brewing and creating in much the same way that a musician creates art. It takes many 'instruments', chords, tones, and musicians to create a symphony of flavors that the end user can appreciate. It's more than one note, one melody, one chord that creates something better than the sum of its parts.
Q. What type of music do you like to listen to while you brew?
A. We only listen to the 1812 Overture. But only with real cannon fire. It must have real cannon fire.
Ok, actually it depends on who is controlling the radio/ipod/pandora station, but it is often either Bluegrass, Classic Rock, Funk or Jazz. It's really a wide range.
Q. Do you listen to a certain type of genre of music?
A. I listen to a lot, and I really appreciate a wide range of music. I have also gone through several phases in my life. When I was younger, classic rock had a place in my heart, and I'm not embarrassed to say I lived through Eighties Hair Bands and saw many live. But Bluegrass and Americana now often sit at the top of my playlists. I also like to find obscure songs from the bands I like, that maybe nobody really knows about. You'll see in the playlist perhaps.
Q. Have you ever brewed a music oriented beer before? If so, please explain what and why?
A. I haven't that I recall, but we use a lot of song titles and references in the names of our beers at Alesong. But usually, the beer comes first and the beer name second.
Q. Do you play any instruments?
A. I grew up playing the saxophone and took some piano lessons. Also, I have dabbled in Harmonica a bit. I have a desire to pick up the banjo, but there is never enough time.
Q. Who is your favorite musician and why?
A. It's so hard to pick a favorite, but I will give you two that I admire greatly. Bela Fleck and Chris Thile. Both are masters of their respective instruments and also take their music and their playing places that banjo and mandolin players don't normally venture. They are true artists and virtuoso's, and the bottom line is they kick ass.
Q. What was the first concert you went to?
A. Kiss! Hot in the Shade Tour. No Makeup. I rocked.
Q. What was the most recent concert you went to?
A. Believe it or not, I saw Kiss recently in Eugene. A bit older for both of us. That may not have been the last though. Maybe Leftover Salmon or Les Claypool was a couple of the last.
Q. How do you discover new music?
A. I usually get introduced to things from my business partner, Brian, who is the real music fiend in our bunch.
Q. What are your favorite online/offline resources for learning new brewing techniques and ingredients?
A. The greatest resource for learning is simply other brewer friends. But places like the Brewers Association Forum, the Master Brewers Association of America, and just reading new books that come out are other places to seek knowledge.
Q. What are you excited about coming up at your brewery?
A. As a newish brewery, there is something every day to get excited about. We're just excited to get big enough to afford some employees, so we don't have to do it all. A man can wish, right?
Q. Spotify Playlist- Choose 10-20 songs you listen to while you brew?
A. See Matt's complete list below: