Portrait of a Brewer: Mat McGee, Fall Brewing

Meet a Fall Brewing fermentationist lacking love for medals and smoothie sours

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There are hundreds of hard-working brewing professionals giving their all to help maintain the storied reputation San Diego’s brewing scene has earned over the past several decades. Some have risen to great fame among industry pros and craft-beer enthusiasts. Some ply their trade in obscurity (and are more than happy to do so). Some are Instagram famous, trendsetters with cult followings that would rival social-media influencers. And while they share plenty of similarities, each is their own unique person with their own likes, dislikes, methods, techniques, inspirations, interests and philosophies. The goal of San Diego Beer NewsPortrait of a Brewer series is to not only introduce you to local brewers, but to have some fun delving into the aforementioned areas so you can get to know them a little better and appreciate them and their contributions to the county’s standout brewing culture. All that plus stellar portraits from brewery lifestyle photographer extraordinaire Matt Furman.

Today’s featured brewer is…

Mat McGee

of Fall Brewing

What is your current title? 


Where did you grow up? 

San Diego

What was the first beer and/or alcoholic beverage you ever had?

Either a Gordon Biersch Märzen or a Malibu cranberry

What was your a-ha moment that turned you on to craft beer? 

Deschutes Mirror Pond Pae Ale and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale at a college party

What led you to consider a career in brewing? 

Homebrewing in San Francisco

Where did you first apply for a brewing job and where did you get your first brewing/brewery position? 

I first applied at Drake’s Brewing and first got hired at Baeltane Brewing in Novato, California.

What breweries have you worked for over your career and in what roles? 

I was Assistant Brewer at Baeltane Brewing, Head Brewer at New English Brewing, and now I’m at Fall.

Who have been the individuals that have helped you the most to learn and advance in your career, and how? 

Probably Lee Chase, just talking about overall brewing philosophy, but I used to crib so much random knowledge listening to beer podcasts’ guests, and then having the opportunity to show up the next day and do XYZ a little differently based on that.

What singular piece of advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a professional brewer? 

Get really good at cleaning shit. The rest is pretty simple

What ultimate career goal would you like to achieve? 

I’m not sure. I don’t really care about medals and don’t really want to own a brewery, but I’d sure love a giant check from ABI.

What is your favorite beer you’ve ever brewed, be it on a professional or amateur level? 

The first time I homebrewed I made a brown ale and it was probably hot garbage, but I’ll always remember having those first bottles and having that holy-shit-this-is-rad moment with my roommates. Genuinely, it was probably a shit beer but it’ll always be the one.

What is your least-favorite beer you’ve ever brewed on any level? 

I over-oaked a homebrew batch and didn’t have the best barrels for a pro batch. That excessively dry tannic note is one of the worst flavors to throw at a beer.

What are your favorite and least-favorite hop varietals at present? 

I’m always a sucker for Citra, Centennial and Mosaic, and that coconutty hop (Sabro) grosses me out unless it’s heavily blended with other hops.

If you weren’t a brewer, what do you think you would do for a living? 

Probably a dumb office job for a giant corporation.

In your opinion, what non-brewing position is of great importance at a craft-beer company but often gets overlooked or less credit than those making the beer? 

Anyone doing cellar work. You can make or break a beer during fermentation.

What is your favorite beer style? 


If you could wipe one style of beer off the face of the Earth, what would it be? 

Smoothie sours

What single brewing company’s beers and/or ethos/style has been most influential on your style? 

Brasserie de la Senne

What is your favorite San Diego County brewing company?

Burgeon Beer Co.

What is your favorite brewing company outside of San Diego? 

Our Mutual Friend Brewing in Denver

What three breweries that you haven’t yet visited—local or elsewhere—are on your current must-see bucket list? 

HenHouse Brewing, Cellarmaker Brewing and Almanac Beer Co.

What are your favorite local beer events? 

The beer-and-food-pairing event at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse during San Diego Beer Week has always been killer.

If you were to leave San Diego, where would be the next-best place you’d want to brew? 

Denver or Portland, Oregon

Which musical genre or artists are on your brew-day soundtrack/playlist? 

Whatever the early guys have going already, it’s usually ‘90s R&B.

What motto rules the way you brew and approach brewing in a professional brewhouse? 

KISS (keep it simple, stupid)

When you’re not at work, what do you like to do for fun? 

Video games

Where do you like to drink off-the-clock? 

Too many places in North Park to list, but lots of Live Wire and BLAH (Blind Lady Ale House).

What is your favorite beer-and-food pairing of all time? 

Deconstructed everything-bagel and lox with a red lager, I think. It was absolutely insane.

If you could somehow plan your last beer dinner before dying, what would you drink and eat, and who would you invite to join you? 

I don’t know what would be on the menu or who would be there, but the guys who used to plan the Toronado beer brunches (RIP) would definitely be involved.

If you’re a brewer at a San Diego brewing company and would like to be featured in our Portrait of a Brewer series, drop us a line at [email protected].

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