“I hear a lot that this place is a bit of a hidden gem… We’ll never be like the larger breweries but, I’ve worked hard to bring the best beer I can to Louisiana and when I see the smiles…… I know I’ve done my job. Big or small it’s all about the flavor and experience.”
– Matthew Horney (Brewmaster)
To brew something remarkable, know your ingredients, know your processes, and know your styles, and then just let the craft happen. Brewing is an art wrapped in the science of flavor and experience. At Old Rail, Matt’s focus is on every single aspect of the process…careful selection of ingredients…tasting, evaluating, and tasting again…, attention to detail, and a refined process for brewing methods. All this work results in amazing beers that have won Matt much respect from his peers and craft drinkers alike.
“Our beers tend to be complex, having multiple layers of flavors to enjoy. From the first taste on through to the finish, various flavors unfold making you feel like you’re on a sensory rollercoaster.” – Matt
Beers like his Barrel Aged Dark Territory Imperial Stout, Hobo Helles (brewed as close as he can to a traditional German Helles), and Hummingbird NEIPA, for example, all have a depth… a level of complexity unique to each beer that changes over the course of the experience. Matt creates beers to be an adventure ride from one flavor or sensory experience to the next. Each experience varying in intensity, complexity, flavor, and character. No matter if its his lightest or darkest beer….the goal is still always the same….Flavor and Quality.
Brewing is a skill. It’s honed from passion, desire, curiosity, and hard work… Our Brewmaster, Matt, was born in Michigan and grew up in the country just 50 miles west of Detroit. He started home brewing in early 2000 while finishing up his Landscape Architecture degree at Michigan State University.
“I knew whatever I did it had to involve a creative process…. Landscape Architecture and Brewing both fulfill that creative aspect…each in a unique way.” – Matt
Fermentation was in his family going back to his great grandfather’s recipes for dandelion wine and plum wine. His dad had worked for Stroh’s Brewing in Detroit back in the early 70’s, and his uncle picked up home brewing and wine making in the mid 80’s. Matt’s dad started home brewing in the early 90’s and passed on his equipment on to Matt in 1999 and that sparked the curiosity Matt needed. He began where many brewers did at the time….reading everything he could find, most notably the book, “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing,” by Charlie Papazian.
To learn more about beer styles, he studied to become a Certified Beer Judge with the BJCP (www.bjcp.org), which honed his perception off-flavors, what judges look and taste for, and how to describe and recognize various characteristics. Eventually, he left landscape architecture after a stint in China and was hired on at Abita Brewing Company, later moving on to brew for Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, Georgia. The experience Matt gained was invaluable, and when word came of the Old Rail position, he accepted the challenge to personally direct all brewing operations.
In the beers brewed here at Old Rail, you’ll discover the concepts, creativity and processes used in Matt’s early days as a home brewer. His experience with water chemistry, his personal sense of time, speed and temperature are employed to give our beers their unique character and flavor. These are the traits that make each brewer different. How they react during the brewing process and how they develop as they move through each stage creates a product unique to the individual brew master. Matt thinks this is the beautiful thing about this craft…. It truly is an art.
So, when he’s not brewing award-winning beers for Old Rail, he’s usually traveling abroad or immersed in home projects, gardening, strength training, running, or immersing himself back in the world of Landscape Architecture.
“Beer is such an interesting beverage that has such a long history….and a trail of many many styles. Get out there and try beers. Understand them and know what separates them. What makes a good beer. What makes a bad beer. Look beyond the trends. Explore, discover, enjoy. Cheers! – Matt
In the late 1800’s, when the sleepy little town of Mandeville was still young, residents who lived and worked there would often awaken to the sounds of buzz saws and foresting equipment working the thriving timber industry along the northern banks of Lake Pontchartrain. The area’s “good water” and soil type meant that loblolly pine and hardwood grew tall and strong here. That brought the timber industry, and the timber industry brought the trains.
Massive steam powered locomotives would pull into town via the old rail branch that split from a main line into New Orleans, bringing supplies and news. The route has a deep history rooted in the timber industry and the hard-working men who spurred the growth of the area. Men who’s hunger at the end of a sweltering South Louisiana workday was a thing of legend. These men would gather with the town folk at lodges and hotels along the line for a hot meal, good company and strong drink.
Today, Old Rail Brewing Company honors the deep history of Mandeville and its famous timber trains with a gathering place for friends and neighbors like no other. Located on the Tammany Trace (Louisiana’s only Rails-To-Trails line), Old Rail Brewing was built tall and strong… a place for sharing the topics of the day, getting a great meal, and sipping a pint of house-brewed handcrafted beer of the highest quality.
Belly up to the bar and have a pint: We brew beers that tell a story. Whether it’s in their name or in the ingredients, our beers are flavorful, award-winning and interesting (just ask us). Also, our beers are brewed on site, and is the inspiration for our uniquely crafted southern-style food menu. You’ll find smoked meats, hearty pastas, refreshing salads, and a variety of appetizers that pair perfectly with our craft, regional and seasonal beers. Collaboration between our kitchen and brewery makes Old Rail a “must-visit” for beer lovers and connoisseurs alike.