Lazarus Scores with Victory Brewmaster!
PRESS RELEASE - May 19, 2016.
Lazarus Brewing Co. welcomes Matt Couch of Victory Brewing as it’s new brewmaster.
Over the past five years, Couch has helped Victory expand its reputation as one of the top craft breweries in America (ranked 26th last year in total sales volumes among all craft brewers). A significant part of his job has been managing growth without sacrificing quality.
Now Couch gets to tackle a new challenge: launching a small-batch, pints-on-premise brewery specifically designed for Austin’s increasingly savvy craft beer scene. It is a major change, but one he is looking forward to.
Lazarus Brewing is located on the corner of East Sixth and Chicon (across the street from Whisler's). It is currently under construction. When the brewery opens this fall, Couch will take the helm of a 10-barrel system that produces a mere 1500 barrels of beer annually. Yet with coffee, a kitchen, and 16 house taps at his disposal, he inherits an opportunity that would be the envy of many large production breweries: Couch gets to create the taproom of his dreams, with a wide range of eclectic beers designed exclusively for local patrons.
“We feel like Matt is a rising star in the brewing world.” says Lazarus founder Christian Cryder.
“Matt’s experience at Victory is impressive, but as we talked to the people who have worked with him, for him, and over him, we kept hearing the same thing—Matt isn't just an amazing brewer, he is also a great person.
“We knew we needed someone like Matt on our team, and we got the guy we wanted.”
As brewing manager at Victory, Couch helped guide research and development, recipe formulation and special projects—like planting their own experimental hop yard (a messy project he tackled alongside his girlfriend Alexis Grieco, who also worked for Victory). He also helped design, install and achieve Victory’s signature consistency on a massive new 200-barrel brewhouse—valuable experience for a new company opening a startup brewery from scratch.
“It’s go time now. This is everything I wanted it to be,” Couch said. “A few months ago I met Christian, and as we talked about the plans and how they wanted approach brewing, it fit extremely well personality wise and the concept was perfect. Absolutely perfect and well laid out. Then I went down to Austin for three days and fell in love with the city immediately.”
Distributed to 35 states and nine countries, Couch and his colleagues have worked hard to create great beer that is enjoyed all over the world. Fan favorites like Hop Devil and Prima Pils have been satisfying thirsty Austinites for years, long before Couch ever set foot in the city himself.
“I love having a location where we'll get to see a lot of regulars who live within walking distance of our space. Those are the people that drive your success, because they can really appreciate what you are doing,” Couch said. “We get to create this incredible space with world class beer, for people we'll know on a first name basis. It is really about sharing that community."
Unlike many local breweries, Lazarus plans on selling all it's beer on premise, out of the taproom. That means if you want to taste Couch's brews, you'll have to visit them on site at 6th and Chicon.
"We call it a zero-distribution model," says Cryder. "If you want our beer, you'll have to come here. But we think that's part of what makes the Lazarus experience so special. And Matt will be a key part of that equation."
Born and raised on a Pennsylvania dairy farm, Couch learned the value of hard work at an early age. He also knows a thing or two about the importance of quality raw materials.
Given his experience at Victory—managing hop sourcing and contracts, working with malt suppliers, leading research and development—Couch knows that great beer begins with great ingredients, a foundation he will use to build his own brewing program.
Couch describes his personal brewing philosophy, which will help guide what's on tap at Lazarus: “One of my favorite things is listening to people talk about the beer they're drinking—to interpret their feelings, and learn about what they experience in different beers.”
“I love trying to find a beer that fits a time and place that someone will remember forever. The connection you make with people over what you've created, that is what drives my creativity in brewing. Finding a beer for everybody.”