I was very sad to hear that Matt Callahan, former Director of Brewing at Toit - he really detested the title “Brewmaster”, thinking it was used far too liberally - lost his battle with lung cancer on April 29 and peacefully passed away at his new home in Ireland with his loving wife Mariefe by his side.
Matt arrived in Bangalore in mid 2012, shortly after I did with the recommendation of Toit’s Brewing Consultant & Engineer extraordinaire, Phil Kelm - you can always tell a brewery is run well and in good hands when the reigns are handed off from one brewer to the next with a “seal-of-approval”. Matt was at Toit for 7 years and leaves behind many much-loved beer recipes, expanded capacity and some very large brewers boots to fill!
Matt got interested in brewing after getting a home brewing kit as a birthday gift. The new hobby grew into a passion which prompted him to move to England in 1998 for a certificate in Brewing Technology at the University of Sunderland. After apprenticing with some breweries on the Isle of Man he started his globe-trotting brewing career as an assistant brewer at the Irish Brewing Company in Newbridge, Ireland which ironically was one of my early consulting projects! He would spend a some time brewing on a 23HL system that I helped install. We would sometimes reminisce about this when getting together.
In Dec 2000, he accepted a position at the Palau Brewing Co. as Brewery Manager. The following year he met his wife Mariefe, from the Philippines. 2004 saw the new couple move to South Korea to commission breweries. After that it was Adelaide, South Australia for a position at Barrosa Valley Brewing Co. In 2006, he was off to Denmark and the Orbaek Brewery which would become home for 7 years. Matt really enjoyed Denmark, especially the annual Beer Festival in Copenhagen and the German trade shows - DrinkTech & Brau - which were now much easier to get to.
Next stop was Bangalore and Toit. Craft brewing was just starting to take off in India and Matt was at the forefront of the revolution at Bangalore’s busiest brewpub, brewing more quality beer than anyone else in town and doing it very consistently. We became good friends and saw each other more as comrades than competitors. Toit was the first craft brewery in town to use “wet” brewers yeast and Matt was instrumental and generous in helping me to get away from the dried stuff at Windmills. It was a big challenge to get wet brewers yeast to India in good condition and always something of a headache but any veteran brewer knows, it makes a superior beer and their are many more varieties to choose from which in-turn adds to more options when designing a beers flavor profile. Matt was also key to starting the Brewer's Association of India (BAI). Without him it would have never happened. Consequently, the brewing community would elect him first president for his dedication and efforts.
|After Touring Geist with me Mariefe and Narayan|
In the 1st quarter of 2018, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He faced it bravely and was as quiet about it as he was everything else. He didn’t let it get in the way of his passion for brewing and only a few close colleagues knew what he was going through. In June 2019 he decided to slow down. Matt and Mariefe left Bangalore to settle in Ireland. I had hopes of catching up with Matt someday in his new homeland over a few pints of Guinness but as the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Godspeed my friend. You are missed. I hope the beer is “on” where you’re at.