Matt Johnson

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?  

My current position at Helm’s Brewing Company [in San Diego] is general manager. I am fairly new to the industry. At my parents’ house, they had a six-tap system above the pool that always had craft beer and homebrew on tap. It was known throughout the community with our friends and family that our backyard was the place to go to enjoy good beer in our city. I ended up talking my dad into researching the craft beer industry a little more in hopes of opening a brewery someday. After a lot of research and hard work I found myself quitting my job in retail to come run a brewery.

What’s new at Helm’s?

Our brewery is five months old and every week we are adding something new. A regular customer always jokes that he can find at least one new item in our brewery whether it’s a brewhouse modification or a tasting room decoration. The biggest new addition to our brewery comes from the guys over at RMS who just outfitted us with a brand new four-roller grain mill. We were the first brewery to get a grain mill from RMS and it even has serial number 0001 on the machine. Dennis and Rusty were so generous with us being the first customer to try their product that when we found a few small bugs with the prototype, they sent a brand new machine with all the little bugs worked out. It is the hot new item at the brewery right now.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

The camaraderie between all the breweries here in San Diego (and there are a lot of them). Since we’re a new brewery, the veterans of this industry could have easily just let us figure it out on our own and hope we don’t make it. We had the exact opposite happen and were given a ton of advice and were never turned away when we had a question. I think the group mentality of the craft brewing community is the best part so far.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

I am a big sports fan so in the limited free time I have right now I enjoy going to a SDSU basketball game, a San Diego Padres game, or just sitting on the couch and watching whatever sporting event is on TV. I also love to travel to one new baseball park a year and then take in the city and the culture that comes with traveling to new cities.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

I am biased right now to our Hop the RIPA (Red IPA) and a great BBQ dish such as pulled pork or ribs. I have also started expanding my food selection with all the beer dinners we have been doing such as having oysters for the first time with a West Coast style IPA.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Getting an education from San Diego State University. It is even more gratifying now as I am going back on the other side of the spectrum to help create a craft beer curriculum at SDSU.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

I really go in waves when it comes to what beers I am drinking, but Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron is my favorite at the moment.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

As I mentioned before, I love to travel to different baseball cities and then explore the city for a couple of days while I sneak in a baseball game or two. The most memorable destination for beer was my Portland and Seattle trip. There was so much great beer in both cities and each city had its own personality in the beers that made it great.

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