The 3-Minute Interview: Chocolate City Beer co-founder Ben Matz

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Food and Drink,People,Andy Brownfield,3-Minute Interview

The Chocolate City Beer co-founder always knew he wanted to get into brewing. At the age of 18, Matz took an interest in homebrewing and took in all the information he could on the topic. Fast-forward and Matz now helms a production brewery in the District, a budding beer town, with hopes of producing 30 kegs a week.

How did Chocolate City get started?

I met my other business partner [working at Gordon Biersch], and basically he was interested in learning how to brew, so we started using my old homebrew setup and brewed every six weeks with no aspirations of opening a commercial brewery. But after a while, we decided to make a go of it. At the time there were no local breweries. We learned of others while we were starting up, and we met them after we started getting press. It was pretty organic.

Why the name "Chocolate City"?

We really wanted to identify with more of the neighborhood side of the District of Columbia rather than the federal side. "Chocolate City" was taken from the title of a 1975 Parliament Funkadelic album, and the District was referenced as Chocolate City in the album. I've heard that it was kind of the unofficial nickname of the District for at least a few years. We really thought that communicated less of the federal buildings and more of the neighborhoods and the people that lived in them.

How do you come up with the formulas for your brews?

Some of them were beers we were brewing on the homebrew scale that we decided to bring up. One of them, 1814 ESB, was a beer we brewed for a homebrew competition. Our Cornerstone Copper Ale is one we had never brewed before and just started brewing here. Our black lager we brewed one time for the Super Bowl and liked it so much we decided to bring it to production.

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