Sometimes in order to innovate it is important to look to history, says Matt Tweedy, the co-founder and brewing director of Tooth and Nail Brewing in Ottawa. He is the guest on Drink Beer, Think Beer this week where host John Holl calls him “a thoughtful guy who genuinely cares about the beers he’s making and the overall direction of brewing not only in Canada but globally.”
Before opening the doors of his brewpub Tweedy learned from some of the very best breweries on the planet including stints at Cantillon, Fullers, and The Lost Abbey. Those experiences continue to shape his beer today and help with the overall education and flavor experience that patrons get every time they open one of his beers or step into the bar.
Matt Tweedy: I don’t believe that you can really innovate without fully understanding the history and fully understanding what got you to the point where you want to make that innovation. Sometimes innovation in today’s world is actually just stepping back 50 years and trying what they used to do, because nobody seems to be interested in doing that anymore.
John Holl: I hear that as a complaint quite a bit [from brewers] that today’s beer drinkers don’t know beer history and are are only thinking about what comes next as or what’s trending now.
Matt Tweedy: I think that’s pretty risky. I think we stand to lose a lot. if that’s the trajectory forward.
John Holl: Do you see that happening?
Matt Tweedy: I do. Yeah, I see it happening all over the place. And I think we have to be very careful with that.
So first of all, I remember when I first started dreaming up ideas of what I wanted to do with this thing that was blowing up inside of me. I’m saying, “wouldn’t it be great to be Belgian-like and not brew to style, not brew IPAs not brew stouts.
I had an idea that I would maybe open a brew pub, or a diner or something. And every beer was designed for a dish. I’ve had those opportunities before, and they’re, they’re extremely rewarding, but it’s not really a sustainable business model.
But I don’t think you can really go that route without understanding what got you there in the first place.
I bring up the name Michael Jackson to a lot of people in my in my brewpub, and they look at me, like I’m on acid.
I find it sad that people are just learning about beer on Instagram. And yeah, I am concerned that we’re starting to get back into a macro brew type scenario of the 60s and 50s, and maybe the early 70s, where there was really one kind of beer, and a different brand was slapped on it.
And I get concerned that we’re heading back in that direction.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.