Brewer's Playlist Volume 7: Sean Burke of Fat Head's Brewery (Portland)
In our seventh Brewer's Playlist we interview, Sean Burke, Brewer at Fat Heads's Brewery 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 Sean is available for the public to listen to. Enjoy. (Note: This interview took place while Sean was the Head Brewer at the Commons Brewery).
Updated at 8:09 pm on 9/14/17
Q. How did you get into craft beer?
A. I started home brewing at a pretty young age which really opens the doors up for some beers I had never heard of and led me to seek out examples of classic styles.
Q. How has music influenced your brewing?
A. It's funny, I often compare the music industry to the craft brewing industry. There are a lot of similarities, whether it be selling out or being innovative and creative vs commercial. That isn't really influencing the day to day act of brewing for me, but having a foot in both camps leads to interesting views of both.
Q. What type of music do you like to listen to while you brew?
A. I am a huge fan of old country music, so I listen to a lot of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens if I get to choose. We have quite a few people interested in music working for the brewery, so we mix it up often.
Q. Do you listen to a certain type of genre of music?
A. As mentioned before older country, but I also listen to quite a bit of Appalachian string band music as well.
Q. Have you ever brewed a music oriented beer before? If so, please explain what and why?
A. The closest thing would be a beer we make called "Maybelle". It is named after Maybelle Carter, who was the guitarist and one of the vocalists for The Carter Family. They are often said to be the original "country band" and I quite like their music. Maybelle's playing style was like no other at the time and she really revolutionized country guitar playing. I think the fact that a woman at that time had so much influence in such a male dominated industry is a fantastic feat. She is also June Carter's mother who later went on to marry Johnny Cash. So I made a beer in tribute to her.
Q. Do you play any instruments?
A. Oh man, actively I play acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, fiddle and upright bass but can also play the mandolin, a bit of piano/organ and am just starting to learn the pedal steel. Jack of all trades, master of none
Q. Who is your favorite musician and why?
A. Usually, this rotates based on who I am listening too at the time, but if I had to choose, I am a huge fan of Don Rich. He was the guitarist for Buck Owens as well as the harmony singer. He was also quite an accomplished fiddle player.
Q. What was the first concert you went to?
A. Donny Osmond at the Oregon State Fair.
Q. What was the most recent concert you went to?
A. A band called The Cactus Blossoms from Minneapolis.
Q. How do you discover new music?
A. I am fortunate to play in multiple bands, so I have access to a lot of new music through other band mates. My wife is also a musician and quite into music, so she introduces me to new things she thinks I might like. That and going to see live music. I often times get to see acts that I have never heard of that might be newer or at least newer to me.
Q. What are your favorite online/offline resources for learning new brewing techniques and ingredients?
A. Online, I suppose there are some great forums and social media groups that are full of some pretty great brewers all willing to share information. Offline, I have quite a few friends that are brewers so it's not hard to reach out if I have questions. Being based in Portland is pretty great as well. The wealth of brewing knowledge in Oregon alone is staggering. As is the willingness of brewers to share it. I'd also throw in that I love doing collaboration beers, not only for the comradery but getting to learn on a first-hand basis what others are doing.
Q. What are you excited about coming up at your brewery?
A. We have quite a bit of barrel aged beer in the pipeline that is starting to come along nicely whether it be for blending or awaiting fruit season.
Q. Spotify Playlist- Choose 10-20 songs you listen to while you brew?