The seasons are a changin’ and so is our brew crew! This fall, we said goodbye to our former Head Brewer who flew south for warmer weather in Miami (we can’t blame you, Eric!) and we’re stoked to welcome Matt McCall to the Coney fam as our new Head Brewer. Where’s he from and what’s his spirit animal? Read up and then come hang over a pint!
So you’re new to the city! Where are you from?
Yes, I’m definitely new to the city. I was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley in PA which is about an hour north of Philadelphia. I’m already catching tons of flack for all of my Philadelphia sports gear but nobody outside of PA likes Philly fans so I’m used to it!
How long have you been home/professionally brewing for?
I’ve been homebrewing for the better part of 8 years and actually worked at a local homebrew store in my hometown for the last 2 years I was in PA. I’ve been a professional brewer for just over 3 years and am super excited about being in Coney Island as this is my first “head” brewer position!
What made you want to brew professionally?
Quite honestly, as cliché as it sounds, my favorite part about brewing beer has always been seeing people enjoy and feel the passion that I pour (pun intended) into my brews. I grew up in kitchens as a cook and eventually got my degree in culinary arts, so flavor profiles and combinations have always been a huge part of my life. Just like with food, sharing the love that I have with other people is an amazing thing and I can’t think of a better way than to do it professionally on a larger scale.
Do you have any favorite styles to brew? What can we expect to be coming from the innovation brewery?
That’s honestly a very tough question to answer, seeing as I love brewing all styles. My favorite styles to brew are usually ones that REALLY test my brewing abilities. For instance, high ABV beers like barleywines, or a complex balanced sours, or a really clean lager. Beers that are hard to make always taste better to me because I know how much effort and skill are involved in brewing them.
What excites you about brewing in Coney Island?
This one is easy. Growing up in the suburbs of PA, I was a bit sheltered culturally. What excites me most about being in Coney is the incredible diversity. From the food to the boardwalk to the energy of the people — it’s an exciting place to be. I look forward to brewing beer that honors the heritage of the community and local flavors. I’ve only been here a short time but I’ve already tried so many new and delicious things that were never available to me before.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the city so far?
That’s a tie. One of the first things I had was some Red Curry Shrimp with coconut rice from a local Asian spot that was out of this world! Equally as good, but twice as strange was a pizza ala vodka with ravioli on top. Essentially it was a pizza that was sauced with a vodka cream sauce and then topped with fresh ravioli and shredded basil. It was ridiculous and insanely good.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for new recipes?
I really like to draw inspiration from the people and things around me. The craft beer industry is really special when it comes to what we do for each other and the community and that’s really what I try and focus on with every beer I make. At Coney Island, Alex (our other brewer and better beard grower) and I sit down and talk about beer ideas pretty much every week and the conversations always revolve around the Coney Island culture. It’s a lot of fun brewing beer, but it’s even more fun to get to draw inspiration for those beers from our daily interactions with people! We’re constantly trying to incorporate local businesses, ingredients and flavor inspiration and it’s a ton of fun.
What’s your spirit animal?
Why do round pizzas come in square boxes?
They say you’re a square if you’re not “around”, so I’m guessing the pizza boxes were late to the party?
What’s a guilty pleasure song on your iTunes/Spotify?
Old school T-Swift. Love me some country Taylor!
There you have it, folks! Now come on by this winter to welcome Matt to the neighborhood!