3 Magnets brewer Aaron Blonden interviews Georgetown Brewing’s Matt Edwards

Matt Edwards is the research and development brewer responsible for many of Georgetown Brewing’s most award-winning and successful beers. Aaron Blonden is the head brewer at 3 Magnets Brewing and moonlights for Mainstem Malt and as an instructor for South Puget Sound’s fermentation program. This interview is part of a periodic ongoing series of guest interviews by brewers and brewery owners of their colleagues in the industry

By Aaron Blonden –

I’ve had the honor of brewing with Matt a handful of times. When meeting Matt he had walked in one day incognito to the taproom where I was brewing at the time. Catching me off guard firing off a question about my knockout piping. There is a genuine love of drinking and making beer with Matt. He is immensely talented and incredibly humble. With such a large successful company behind him he pushes boundaries and makes monumental beer for the industry. It’s often a common occurrence to hear the most seasoned beer aficionado say that they keep Bodhi in the fridge as an everyday beer they can reach for. All the years of production out of Georgetown Brewing have forever changed the caliber of beer made in Washington. My favorite shared experience with Matt was receiving a phone call during the 2016 GABF. I was awarded a silver for Bohemian Lager and Bodhizafa got gold. I absolutely couldn’t believe it, the IPA GABF award for brewers is pretty much one of the highest accolades intrinsically. Bodhi had beat out 311 beers that year for Gold. There was almost a mutual excitement more so for the other then our self. We both celebrated from home that year and met up for beers a few days after. We gather, drink and make beers up to a couple of times a year. Whenever I have a large project I’d like to tackle or try Matt is one of my first phone calls. Matt and Aaron were able to collaborate on an IPA together right before COVID stay at home order closed breweries to the public. 

Aaron Blonden

Questions : 

Aaron Blonden : You told me before we jumped into the interview that you had brewed today. What did you end up brewing? 

Matt Edwards: Juniorzafa is basically a scaled down version of Bodhizafa cut down to 4.8% ABV. 

Aaron : Were you diverting wort from the big system or using the 15-barrel system? 

This was on the 15-barrel system, I tried something different and did a high gravity brew day. 

Georgetown Brewing’s Matt Edwards

Aaron : What are you doing when you are not brewing these days? 

Right now during all this, I’ve got a lot of yard work I need to catch up on and playing lots of video games I need to get to. A lot of Old School and classy ones and other than that, playing with the dog… A pretty boring life. It’s pretty relaxing though. 

Aaron : Haha, yeah except for my next question because I wanted to catch you off guard, I recently believe I learned you had two pets I didn’t know about. So I’d like you to rapid fire, name all of your pets. 

Rapid fire that’s easy – Starting with the dogs you’ve got Fraizer the oldest, Kip the chihuahua, Lando the mutt, and you’ve got Gary who’s kind of a pomeranian/chihuahua [mix] and I’ve got Randy the golden canary and Ryan Reynolds which is a beta fish. Is that seven or six? That’s six pets that I know about. We do have a couple of large house spiders that have been in the house a few years, they are essentially pets but we haven’t named those yet. 

Aaron : How often are you going into Georgetown right now? 

I’ve been going in to work and haven’t stopped but what I did do is limit how much I go in. If I wasn’t going to be brewing then I didn’t go in. [Instead] I did work from home like writing recipes and answering emails. No one got laid off, we’ve been fortunate to be in production mode. We haven’t missed a beat so we have been fortunate, and when employees don’t need to be there we step back a bit and socially distance ourselves. 

Aaron : In terms of beer you have been brewing or had been brewing, Is there stuff that you want to be making that you haven’t in a while? 

I’ve been brewing so many IPAs lately you know because those are the beers that people seem to want to drink. Those are the types of beers that will keep the lights on. So there has always been a large focus on IPA and I do have fun brewing IPA. There are some of those beers that I don’t get a chance to brew that much anymore and I’d like to start brewing American-style Porters and Stouts. Non-adjunct and non-imperial ones, just straightforward, the kind of beers that really got me into craft brewing, when I first started homebrewing 18 years ago. It would be fun to go back and revisit some of those classic styles. We do get a chance to make those sometimes now for the pub with one of the pilot systems. That’s why we’ve got those in place. 

Aaron : Can you fill everyone in on how many systems you have? 

Our main production system is a 60-barrel that we push to about 80 barrels. Mostly what I brew on is an old two vessel 15-barrel single infusion and direct fire system. That’s our original brewhouse that Manny and Roger bought in the early 2000’s from a defunct brewery down south. The other system I’ve been brewing on and just got a glycol system going for it is a 1.5-barrelsystem. Our fabricator built that and it’s really high quality craftsmanship, not flashy but works great. This system allows for test batches for the tasting room. 

Aaron : Where does the majority of the innovation beer end up from the pilot systems right now? 

The [small] pilot batches are exclusively [meant for] growler fills out the door at the moment. We’ve been pretty fortunate that people are still coming in and getting growlers. The sales guys will service out of 30 kegs on a large pilot batch, 6-8 half barrels will go out to accounts that are still open and filling growlers and crowlers. 

Aaron : Did you have any bigger projects that you had to put on hold? 

We had a bunch of collaborations that we had to put on hold. District Brewing  [and Georgetown] were going to make a beer together right before this happened. Stoup Brewing was on the books and that got pushed off. We got the Three Magnets one in a with a day to spare. As far as projects and my wheelhouse, we were in a nice little holding pattern. Trying to work [out] kinks on the big system and improve beer. We’re also in the middle of a build-out at the brewery. Thankfully that hasn’t stopped and we are adding about 7,000 square feet to the brewery right now. Putting in about six or seven 280-barrel fermenters. 

Aaron :Obviously forecasting might be out the window, but how much do guys think that expansion would increase volume? 

You can’t quote me on this (Aaron Laughs), but I think we can produce about 105,000 barrels. I guess the capacity would be around 120,000 barrels, assuming we can produce enough wort to fill those. 

Aaron : Those were the tanks you guys got from Redhook? (I had brewed into those a few years before at Redhook. Was curious which tanks and wanted clarification from Matt) 

Yeah, the tanks inside, those outside ones were something like 800 hectoliters and were huge (26.4 gallons to a hectoliter as opposed to 31 gallons to a barrel). I think Fremont had actually picked up a couple of the inside tanks as well. 

Aaron : How does the scaling process look when you have a successful pilot batch then go to the larger brewhouse? With Meowsa! as an example, for instance. 

We had done a large batch of Meowsa! for a distributor in the past. But last fall was the first time we had done a big canning run of it. We had probably done about half a dozen small 15-barrel pilot batches of that beer before we scaled it up to [the] large production system to produce between 60-120 barrels at a time. We like to sometimes give the distributor a one off IPA of something that we could scale up and that one seemed to get positive feedback. 

A more recent one that we just scaled up was the day I brewed with you. After I drove back up from Olympia I oversaw a large batch of Double IPA called Warchild. It’s another one in the series of Point Break beers. We were actually planning to do two batches and yield about 100 barrels. We actually canceled the second batch about partway in, and were worried about getting stuck with 100 barrels of draft beer without anywhere to serve it to. That was on March 14 and then the following Tuesday everyone had to pump the brakes. 

As far as new beers getting scaled up you’ve got Mewosa!, You’ll Get Nothing and Like It, and Warchild. 

Matt Edwards

Aaron : With all of the success in the Point Break series, if you had to have another movie that sort of encapsulated the staff…. what would be the next one that you would make some deep cut references to? 

We’ve kind of talked about [it] and joked about it a bit. We’ve sort of exhausted the IMDB “Point Break” character list. There’s always one that Manny is toying with because he likes naming his beers after characters or references. “Caddy Shack” has been one, you know the “You’ll get nothing and like it.” There’s been a little “Big Trouble in Little China” talk. You never know with Manny, sometimes he comes out of left field. We’ve got about a half dozen beers named after different cats. Or half a dozen beers named after employee dogs at the brewery. 

Aaron :  Let’s do some of what I’ll call the “This or That” for our beer lovers out there. Polarizing this or that type stuff. 

Chloride or Gypsum?

Oh… that’s like trying to pick your favorite child, ha ha. On IPA now I’ve been spitting them 50/50. I was doing 2:1 Chloride for a while. In my old age I’ve been starting to dial it back and gypsum deserves a chance to shine. 

Aaron : To centrifuge or to not centrifuge? 

I like the centrifuge. It takes out a lot of the headache and heartache of things settling weird or not wanting to drop out of suspension that should. It makes for consistency. Whether it’s a hazy IPA or a lager, we run everything through the filter. Nothing against unfiltered beer, [but] since I have that glorious machine, I’m going to use it. (The handful of beers we have brewed at facilities I brew for had never filtered them.) 

Aaron : India Pale Lager or Dry Hopped Pilsner? 

I’ll go with Dry Hopped Pilsner. 

Aaron : (Laughs) There’s implications of one selling and one not selling, so it’s a trap. (I’ve also brewed an IPL with Matt) 

I will always be appreciative of IPL because the first hoppy beer I was able to make was an IPL and it was called Eddie IPL. It was a full-time Georgetown beer. A lot of people at the brewery were excited about it, but we could barely give that beer away. It was really confusing to tell the customers it’s like an IPA, but it’s lagered and no it’s not like a Pilsner. So, I think people’s response was I’ll just take a Lucille. 

Aaron : This wouldn’t be a “This or That,” but what is your favorite hop right now? 

It’s a coin toss between Idaho-7 and Strata. Idaho 7 is a really good aroma hop and plays well with other ones. I need to get more comfortable with it to use it hot side. I’ve used it hot side a couple of times, but [I] want to use it more to see where it goes. With Strata, it seems like it could be another Citra. You could put it in hot side or dry hop [with it] and it excels. 

Aaron :Are there any breweries or beers out there that are getting you fired up to create something on the pilot brewhouse? (Matt attributes inspiration well and has cited creating beers like Bodhizafa from enjoying Breakside Wanderlust and Fort George OPA). 

I think there are a lot of great breweries making a bunch of great beer. For me, if I had to have a quick shortlist I think anything from Block 15 is always exceptional in my opinion. The beers are clean, aromatic, interesting, and well made. I think Block 15 would be my number one. 

I’m always impressed with what Hollis [Wood] is doing up there at Skookum. Just making good beer. Whether it’s Barleywine, IPA, or anything in a barrel. You can feel that everything is in its right place. 

 If you wanted to add one more brewery to the list of ones that I always look forward to would be Cloudburst and their IPAs. As an R&D brewer they’re great because they’re always trying out new different hop combinations and they set a good example of establishing hop grower and broker relationships and it really shows in their beers.

Aaron :  There are too many amazing breweries to list, but I wanted to lead into traveling and beer. Is there any area that you have loved visiting and want to go back, or an area that you would like to see and get a feel for the beer scene? 

It was really interesting to go try the beer north of Montreal. If you go to a brewery in Seattle you might see five IPAs on tap and a smattering of other styles but over there, they will have five or six different saisons on. Maybe one IPA. They were good, and I like them, but [I] don’t feel I encounter them a lot even though we have great saisons in our market. 

Aaron Blonden

Bio for Aaron Blonden

Aaron Blonden tries to spin a lot of plates as Matt would say. Currently the head brewer at Three Magnets in Olympia, He also is an Instructor for the Olympia-based Craft Brewing and Distilling program. This quarter he’s helping students try to navigate the current state of the industry and learn to scale recipes to larger facilities. He has been brewing professionally in Washington for years and worked in a few facilities. His  real wake up moment in the industry was being awarded the Glen Hay Falconer award in 2017. That was where he realized he would like to further his involvement in brewing science education, if not specifically mentorship. He has shifted enthusiasm and focus as well lately to becoming a member of the team at Mainstem Malt. Being a part of such an exciting raw ingredient purveyor that focuses on sustainability and environmental impact has become a focus. Look for the term Salmon Safe Beer to begin to gain traction in a few upcoming beers when discussing the amount of water use in making beer and agricultural practices. 

Matt Edwards

Bio for Matt Edwards

Matt Edwards is the research and development brewer for Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing. Although Georgetown encourages innovation from most of its staff, Matt holds the reigns of what has become one of the most successful pilot programs in Washington. Numerous beers have crossed his brew deck. A brewery at a scale as large as Georgetown’s is sometimes forgotten when it comes to beers other than the flagships loved by so many people. Hailing from the east side of the Cascade Range in Washington,
Matt has quietly become known as a hop whisperer to his industry peers. But that’s not all. He is just as comfortable riding a donkey as he is driving a Prius. His muscles have been tearing holes in sleeves for years. He helps mentor fellow brewers on health and nutrition. My mother always said growing up that I could make a friend in a room full of strangers—she has not met Matt.


Aaron Blonden
Aaron Blonden

Aaron Blonden tries to spin a lot of plates as Matt would say. Currently the head brewer at Three Magnets in Olympia, He also is an Instructor for the Olympia-based Craft Brewing and Distilling program. This quarter he’s helping students try to navigate the current state of the industry and learn to scale recipes to larger facilities. He has been brewing professionally in Washington for years and worked in a few facilities. His real wake up moment in the industry was being awarded the Glen Hay Falconer award in 2017. That was where he realized he would like to further his involvement in brewing science education, if not specifically mentorship. He has shifted enthusiasm and focus as well lately to becoming a member of the team at Mainstem Malt. Being a part of such an exciting raw ingredient purveyor that focuses on sustainability and environmental impact has become a focus. Look for the term Salmon Safe Beer to begin to gain traction in a few upcoming beers when discussing the amount of water use in making beer and agricultural practices.

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