In 2013, Matt and Rachael Akin opened Benchmark Brewing in Grantville, pulling from experience earned during the former’s eight years at AleSmith Brewing. Positive public response was instantaneous and the operation became known for brewing unembellished “beer-flavored beer” of exceptional quality. High-profile awards followed, most notably a pair of Great American Beer Festival medals for Benchmark’s Oatmeal Stout. Despite making good beer that was appreciated by a solid core of die-hard fans, the business proved unsustainable and the Akins shuttered it in June.
Many wondered where Matt would end up. That question gets answered today with Miramar-based Duck Foot Brewing announcing it has brought the veteran fermentationist on board as its new head brewer. In this role, he will direct the company’s production team, which consists of two brewers and three cellar workers, and oversee all aspects of brewing, capacity planning, quality, and distribution, while contributing to recipe development.
“We selected Matt mostly for his extensive experience in taking AleSmith from a 300-barrel-per-year brewery up to a 4,000-barrel-per-year brewery. That kind of growth experience is hard to find and it’s exactly what Duck Foot needs right now,” says co-owner and chief fermentation officer Brett Goldstock. “But we also recognized Matt’s all-around experience with running his own brewery for so many years and, of course, he comes with a plethora of awards and a sterling reputation, so we know that there’s a lot of potential for him to help us up our game.”
This hiring will allow Goldstock to take a step back from brewery operations and focus on strategic projects. This is a time of growth for Duck Foot, which also operates an East Village tasting room Goldstock reports did quite well during Padres season. Another summertime development for Duck Foot was signing a distribution agreement with Karl Strauss Brewing that covers San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange Counties as well as the Inland Empire.
Duck Foot produced 2,500 barrels of beer last year and is on pace to hit 3,000 barrels come the close of 2019. With increased distribution—which may expand to include importers in Japan and Mexico (the company’s beer is already regularly shipped to Mexico City)—annual barrelage figures to increase, making Matt’s experience in that area (as well as shipping beer to Japan as he did with AleSmith) a valuable company asset. Matt’s first day at Duck Foot will be next Monday, October 21.