Live at the Brewery May 7, 2015 Culture in the Cask By: Vince Pecoraro Live music and drinking have always gone hand in hand, so it’s not surprising to hear that a number of breweries have recently opened their doors as concert venues. What is surprising is the size of their crowds and the quality of bands they draw. The trend extends beyond what you see at bars that tend to bring in up and coming local groups or your average cover band for a night. Breweries have begun building outdoor stages and amphitheaters in open areas on their grounds to accommodate large crowds. Concertgoers can enjoy great beer in addition to good music, and many breweries have developed reputations among musicians as good places to perform. The Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY is a prime example, as their lineup often has the same groups returning year after year to play for over 5,000 attendees. This summer they’ll bring in The Pixies with TV on the Radio (5/22), the Avett Brothers with John Prine (6/13), and Bonnie Raitt (8/01). Ommegang lets concertgoers camp overnight for some of their events, giving their shows a festival-like feel. In nearby Utica, NY, the Saranac Brewery brings in jam bands every summer, with this year’s lineup featuring in Moe. (6/19 & 20), Dark Star Orchestra (7/26), and Zappa Plays Zappa (8/01). This isn’t confined to the east coast. Out in Missoula, MT the Big Sky Brewing Company will host The Decemberists (5/24), Ryan Adams (5/29), and Gregg Allman (6/27). Other breweries are also hosting large-scale concerts, including Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI, SLO Brewing Company in San Luis Obispo, CA, Lagunitas Brewing Company in Chico, CA, New World Brewery in Tampa, FL, and Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth, NH. Concerts at breweries are a win-win-win scenario: musicians get to play a cool venue, breweries bring in a large audience to sell their beer to, and concertgoers get to enjoy good tunes and great brews.