The first exciting thing for Alter this year has been the addition of Matt McCowan to our brew team (so make sure to say hello if you see the new guy!). Matt has some amazing experience in the brewing industry and will be a huge part of taking our beer program to the next level as head brewer. Experimentation, innovation, barrel-aging, we’re ready for all kinds of fun stuff in 2019.
But enough of me talking, here’s more about Matt from the man himself. Enjoy!
I can remember hoarding glass carboys of homebrew in my college apartment thinking, “man, it would be so cool to do this for a living.” I would go to all my classes, daydreaming about the beer fermenting in my closet. Eventually, I would graduate and not use my degree at all – like most people my age. Instead, I started working for free at a small brewery in Chicago so I could learn what it takes to brew professionally. It takes a lot, but because my passion outweighed my desire to sit behind a desk – I soldiered on.
After a while, I was able to learn enough to be an actual brewer at Central Waters in Amherst, WI. When you are willing to live long distance from your wife (then girlfriend) in a small apartment without internet, you know that you love your work. While working at Central Waters I was able to absorb a lot of great brewing and barrel-aging knowledge. Eventually, the long distance became too much and I moved back to Chicago where another great opportunity was waiting for me.
I began working for Lagunitas in 2013 before they even had a brewhouse installed. It was really intimidating setting up a 250 barrel brewhouse, but what I learned in the process was invaluable. Over a span of five years I learned so much I could fill an entire book. It was time to take that knowledge and start using it in my own way.
I met with Mark and David in the summer of 2018 and was immediately drawn to their laid-back approach to beer amidst having a really slick taproom and great reputation for quality brews. They were looking for some outside creativity and experience to elevate their already successful portfolio, and it just so happened I just moved from the city to Downers Grove in need of some change myself. I am extremely excited to get started and work with all these wonderful people. I feel like I am finally where I want to be, and where I want to brew. The beer in my old closet would be proud.