The American Craft Beer Fest exists for one reason: to celebrate beer. This weekend beer festival on Friday, June 19, 2009, and Saturday, June 20, 2009, is not about mass-produced, commercial beer, it’s about the craft beer created by talented national and local brewmasters, including brewmaster Aaron Mateychuk of Waltham’s Watch City Brewing Company.
American Craft Brewer’s Fest
The American Craft Brewer’s Fest takes place on There will be panel discussion, more than 300 craft beers, and lots of beer tasting. The American Craft Brewer’s Fest is a 21+ event that takes place at the Seaport World Trade Center.
Watch City Brewing Company
The Watch City Brewing Company is one of more than 75 brewers attending the festival. Brewmaster Aaron Mateychuk, 43, is the brewmaster at Watch City Brewing Company in Waltham, Massachusetts. He will be at the American Craft Brewer’s Fest all weekend with an assistant brewer. He took some time out of his busy beer brewing schedule to answer some questions.
Interview with Brewmaster Aaron Mateychuk
Do you have any tips for beer lovers attending the American Craft Brewer’s Festival?
Plan out a list of what you want to try. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying everything. There is always next time, that way you’ll enjoy it without getting drunk.
What is the average amount of time it takes to brew a batch of beer?
We typically brew a 14bbl batch, which is equivalent to 28 kegs, and on a brew day the process takes between 6 and 8 hours. The whole process, including fermentation, conditioning and filtering takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.
If you had to pick one craft beer people have to try before leaving the American Craft Brewer’s Festival which one would it be?
It would be our Jeux D’Esprit Wit beer or Hops Explosion IPA.
Have you ever made a craft beer flavor you did not like?
Generally no, but there are occasional times where I wish I could do more tweaking by changing an ingredient here or adding one there.
Is brewing craft beer more art or science? Or equal parts of both?
Equal parts of both, but too many people that focus on the science don’t rely on the artistic aspect, like in cooking, and that makes a difference between an exceptional beer and a great beer.
What are your favorite local ingredients to use to brew beer?
Easy, all the herbs in my home garden such as our bee balm that we use in our Beejezus Botanical Pale Ale (BPA) that contains no hops.
What are your favorite exotic ingredients to use to brew beer?
Bee balm, lavender, Belgian chocolate, coriander, citrus zest, cardamon, the list goes on. This year I’m trying to make a conscience effort to grow my own herbs to use in our beers.
What are your three favorite craft beers?
Moinette Brune, Victory Prima Pils, Schlenkerla Rauchbier.
I am sure there are people thinking you have the best job in the world. How did you become a brewmaster?
An old girlfriend of mine gave me a home brewing kit and bet me that I wouldn’t use it. After it sat on the shelf for two years I finally broke it open. The first batch I made was horrible because the kit went bad. It didn’t stop me however, I was determined to make good quality beer. I continued to purchase more kits and make more beer. As time went on I started to develop my own recipes.
A friend of mine worked at Harpoon told me of an opportunity to become an intern. I took the position and worked there for two years learning how to brew large scale. I finally decided I wanted to do it on a more intimate level. My next opportunity came about when Watch City opened. They were so busy they were seeking an assistant brewer. I was the assistant brewer for two years and was offered the position as the head brewer and have been there ever since, 13 years and counting.
Do you have any advice for people who want to pursue their dream of becoming a brewmaster?
Having a B.S. in science or chemistry just doesn’t cut it. What people don’t realize is how much physical work is involved. Getting into brewing involves a lot of grunt work i.e.; washing kegs, getting sweaty and dirty, lifting heavy objects repetitively and trying to balance all this without burning, electrocuting or killing yourself. If you work in a brew pub setting and you are moderately successful don’t ever expect to work 9 to 5 or have every weekend off.
Artistic creativity is most important especially in the craft beer market today. The craft beer market consists of thousands of different beers and breweries. Being a good brewer is the ability to make a beer that can compete or stand up to any of those beers.
Is there anything else you want people to know about Watch City, craft brewing or the American Craft Brewer’s Festival?
Come in and try the beers, dammit! The food is great, too!
Watch City Brewing Company
Watch City Brewing Company is located at 56 Moody Street in Waltham, Massachusetts. For more information call (781) 647-4000 or visit their website.
American Craft Beer Fest, http://beeradvocate.com/acbf
Seaport World Trade Center Boston, http://www.seaportboston.com
Watch City Brewing Company, http://watchcitybrew.com