It’s All Farm-Inspired
When the world’s supply of hops, used in huge amounts by macrobreweries, started to dwindle in 2005 due to a series of climate and fungal problems, Matt Rodgers and his extended farm family decided to grow hops for the first time. Their success in that niche crop led to Matt’s love of beer brewing and recent opening of his own Hazelwood Brewing Company in Lexington at 711 E. Main St.
“Hops was fun to grow, I was into organic farming, and more recently, we wanted to build a business that our son, Silas, would be able to be involved with,” says Matt.
Now, Matt’s 600 hop plants produce about a half-pound per plant, which he says is enough to create his own off-seasonal special brews. Hops are the flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus, and are used primarily as a bittering, flavoring and stability agent in beer; they also can impart floral, fruity or citrus flavors and aromas.
Matt’s now introducing 10 new beers on tap, mostly farm-inspired and with eclectic names, in a rustic and comfortable ambiance that was designed through renovating an old mill building originally erected in 1891.
“While I was working at Old Mill Brewpub, I kept looking out the window at The Old Boiler Room, wishing I could salvage it,” Matt says. “I was a bit pessimistic after the flood of 2015, but the owner of the building approached me because he, too, wanted to revitalize it. So, we worked hard to create the feel of a much-needed taproom experience.” Matt adds that they used reclaimed wood, barn influences, old beams and repurposed pipes and other items as often as possible.
While the new taproom was under construction, Matt collaborated with other local businesses, such as River Rat and Carolina Baeurnhaus, Botanist and Barrel, for custom brews.
Matt has five fermenters, ranging from seven to 30 barrels. His new brewery can accommodate 111 guests inside (including well-behaved dogs) with extra space outdoors. He says to expect rotational beer flavors, with some of them fleeting, because he mainly works with ingredients found locally, such as grits, cornbread and Southern flavors. He plans to have live entertainment from Freeway Music musicians, and is serving snacks, such as meat-and-cheese boards, pickles and chips. He will supplement with food trucks and pop-up tents.
Did You Know?
In Matt’s beers, he uses local ingredients, such as flowers, tree bark and honey of bees from his family’s farm.
2005: He planted his first hops field.
2011: Matt attended brewing school.
2013: Matt joined Old Mill Brew Pub.
2017: He started constructing Hazelwood Brewing Co.
2019: He opened Hazelwood with 10 beers on tap.