Podcast Episode 223: Matt Sampson of Hacienda Believes in Flavor Over Style

The director of brewing operations for the progressive Wisconsin brewery discusses finding their flavor voice in a way that transcends style.

Jamie Bogner Feb 1, 2022 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 223: Matt Sampson of Hacienda Believes in Flavor Over Style Primary Image

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Matt Sampson, director of brewing operations for Hacienda Beer and Door County Brewing in Wisconsin, never set out to be a brewer. The PhD chemist figured on life in a lab—but life had something else in store. He found his way into brewing through the side door—vaulting from a somewhat unique position as brand manager and QC tech. That led to cellar and brewing work. Now, years later, Sampson still manages the Hacienda brand while overseeing all brewing for both Hacienda and Door County.

Door County focuses on the reliable, tried-and-true craft standbys. Hacienda, meanwhile, is their hub of experimentation—where flavor and exploration are priorities—and their Milwaukee taproom is the best place to experience it.

In this episode, Sampson focuses on the Hacienda approach, where a focus on tropical flavor spans beer styles, from their high-volume hazy IPAs to their mixed-culture and spontaneous beers. Along the way, he discusses:

  • focusing on tropical Brettanomyces flavors over “barnyard”
  • fermenting directly in oak with Brett primaries
  • transitioning from grown and dreg cultures to commercial pitches
  • brewing spontaneously with a coolship in the Upper Midwest
  • foregoing aged hops to allow more tropical hop flavors to emerge
  • using hops directly in the coolship
  • understanding Michigan- and Wisconsin-grown hop flavors
  • taking a fruit-first approach to choosing blending stock
  • prepping cherries for beer maceration with a carbonic process
  • controlling THP in finished beer
  • the importance of dry-hopping every mixed-fermentation beer

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].