Chase Legler is one of the brewers at Sonder Brewing. The Mason production brewery and tasting room opened about a month ago. He came to Sonder from New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: Honestly, I didn’t really plan to become a brewer. I was searching for a summer job out of high school and was fortunate to start working for a small brewery in my hometown. I started with stacking cases at the end of the bottle line and doing miscellaneous cleaning at New Glarus Brewing (NGB). I had every intention to attend college in the fall.
Throughout that summer, NGB, commissioned a brand new KHS transomat kegline, we called Fritz. Dan Carey asked me one day if I were interested in running Fritz. I took the position, with the understanding I still planned to start college. Long story short, ultimately I did not go to college. Due in part to my new position but mostly because I had a “serious” girlfriend at the time (now my wife), who still had high school to finish up.
Shortly after starting at NGB, I started asking questions and learning about brewing. I fell in love with the process of making beer well before the end product. I was drinking Keystone Light and really found it hard to believe people enjoyed beers like Hop Hearty and Uff-da bock. These were some of NGB’s flagships. I remember the day I wanted to become a brewer. Two guys came into the brewery and starting doing the Wayne's World, "We're not worthy, we're not worthy” to Dan Carey. I found it cool that people were really into the art of craft beer and was hooked ever since.
Q: What's the story behind the name Sonder?
A: It basically means that everyone has their own story. Justin Neff (president) discovered the word and the meaning seemed to resonate with all of us. Here at Sonder, we believe that every person has a unique story, and so does every one of our beers. We love the idea of sharing each of those stories with our consumers.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite craft beer trends now?
A: I’m not sure if it's trending but I love the classic German lagers. I think they are one of the most difficult styles to make. I love the yeast management side and dealing with a finicky yeast strain. I’m not a fan of any beer that doesn’t taste like beer. I understand the use of flavors and adjuncts but it should still have the identity of a beer.
Q: What's your best-selling beer and why do you think it's so popular?
A: We’ve only been open for a month but it's between our You Betcha! (NEIPA) and Zauber (Zwickel lager). I think it's great to see these two polar opposite beers doing so well. It really showcases what Luke Shropshire (head brewer) and I are about. Luke has a lot of passion for sours and creative one-off beers, while I’m focused on process, microbiology and consistency. I think the NEIPA is a hot trend right now, which pushes the sales. We tried to target the lowest sweetness as possible with still being within the style. I think this leads to more drinkability. The Zwickel is just a solid beer brewed in true Germanic style using all German ingredients.
Q: Which beer — any beer in the world — do you wish that you created/brewed and why?
A: I would have loved to be part of the mid 1800’s in the Bohemian city of Pilsen brewing some of the world’s first lagers. So I guess I would say the original Pilsner Urquell. It would be the ultimate challenge to try to lager without the use of today's refrigeration.
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