Meet Joe Cocchi, Metalcore Craft Brewer

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So far 2014 has been a big year for technical metalcore band Within the Ruins. Back in July, the Massachusetts quartet released their fourth full-length studio album, Phenomena, perhaps their most accomplished work to date. According to guitarist Joe Cocchi, it was also their their fastest and easiest to record.

But Cocchi has also been hard at work on his side project. Whereas most musicians keep their extracurricular pursuits within the realm of music, booking their own DJ gigs or experimenting with atypical genres, Cocchi threw himself headlong into the world of craft beer when his company, Tin Bridge Brewing, launched this year.

Craft beer and metal seems like a match made in heaven. These days, it seems like everyone is getting in on the business; even Iron Maiden and AC/DC have launched their own product lines. But while Cocchi would love to market a Within the Ruins brand, he says during a recent phone interview, Tin Bridge is a totally separate venture for him.

The guitarist explains that the idea for Tin Bridge started with a brewing kit he purchased with his brother and a close friend. After first doing it solely for fun, over time they realized it could be a legitimate business idea. According to Cocchi, craft brews now account for between eight and nine percent of national beer sales, and the market seemed ripe.

It wasn't easy; Cocchi describes it as much like initially trying to get Within the Ruins off the ground. Tin Bridge is a ways off from launching their brand around the country, he also admits.

"We're talking to two bars locally [in Westfield, the brewery's hometown], and three liquor stores, but it's looking pretty good," he says. "I think we'll be able to land a few things early next year."

Tin Bridge is also looking into online distributors to expedite its nationwide deployment. At least in the early phases, this would make their beer available to craft-beer enthusiasts around the United States and Within the Ruins fanatics alike.

It's a time consuming project. Cocchi is forced to balance the project along with touring and recording with his band, which can be difficult for a working musician. Asked if he'd ever consider retiring from music to focus solely on the brewery project, the guitarist says his heart is still with the band right now, though he has considered it.

"Music is my biggest passion for sure," Cocchi explains. "[But] you never know. I mean, not every metal band can tour forever. If we can, great, but it's nice to have something else I'm interested in to fall back on someday."

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Still, if a musician had to get a day job, this would be a hard one to beat.

"There's so much freedom," Cocchi says. "You can make the beer however you want to make the beer. There's no one way to make a specific style of beer. [Craft brewing] is something different than [the] commercial crap that we've been force-fed for so long."

That iconoclastic attitude could be one reason metal and craft-brewing go so well together. Even though there's a long way to go, membership in a bubbling-under metalcore group has definitely helped Cocchi promote his brand. Without it, it would have been a hell of a lot harder to launch a brewery, he says.

Unfortunately, it may be a while yet before Texans get to taste Tin Bridge's efforts. Right now, it seems that the legalities and licenses involved with bringing the beer on tour will make that far too difficult, Cocchi sighs.

But either way, he and Within the Ruins will hit the road next month to support Born of Osiris. While Houston fans may not get to enjoy Cocchi's beer for a while, we'll at least to get to enjoy his band's music when Within the Ruins hits Fitzgerald's on October 25.

When Tin Bridge does launch online, however, I'll be one of the first to order. If Cocchi's beer is anywhere near as good as the band's music, it's going to rock.


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