David Mathews, a guy from Tampa who loves beer, music and dogs, knows a little something about home brewing. He’s been doing it for more than 20 years from his West Palm Beach home.
“It’s been my hobby,” he says.
But as time passed, Mathews, a 53-year-old who ran his own engineering company for years, got tired of the rat race. So, he sold his business for between $2 to $3 million and recently started Mathews Brewing Company, Lake Worth’s first beer brewery and taproom.
The company is at 130 South H Street in the Lake Worth Herald’s old building. Mathews bought the site for $475,000 in March 2016, property records show.
“Anytime you can turn your hobby into a business, life can be good,” Mathews says. “I was at the point, if you’re going to do the brewery, just get off the ledge and do it.”
While Mathews Brewing had a soft opening last month, it’s big, ribbon-cutting, grand opening is Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. The opening will feature bands and food trucks.
Mathews said the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency gave him $10,000 for the business. “It was a little seed money to work this out since we’re in their district,” he says. “That was a big thing getting money from those guys.”
Meanwhile, check out the old Lake Worth bank safe on the left when you walk in.
“It’s from about 1914,” Mathews says. “We were told it was the very first safe from a bank in Lake Worth. We were going to move it to the back, so we called a safe company and it was going to cost about $2,000 to move, so we just tiled right around it.”
Then step outside into the beer garden, a lovely space with picnic tables, big rocks from around the globe, a stage for bands and a zen garden.
Mathews Brewing will sell beer to the public and restaurants. Fourteen beers are on sale for customers, including the early favorite, Sweet Emotion.
“It’s a very nice, creamy, mellow kind of beer,” says James Retzler, lead brewer and the guy in charge when Mathews isn’t around. “It’s big shoes to fill when David’s not here, but I just try to think of what he would do.”
Mathews says he expected some challenges in getting his license, but everything went smoothly.
“I’ve heard horror stories that it takes 6 or 7 months to get a brewery license,” he says. “I got it in a month. One of the reasons I got it so fast is a lot of breweries have a bunch of investors, so when you go before the Federal government, they have to check everybody. I’m the sole owner.”
He admits, though, that West Palm Beach was his first choice for a site.
“I found a place I liked in West Palm, but they would only give me a license for distribution, not for tap and I wanted both,” he says. “It’s a good location where we are, one block off Dixie Highway and it’s real close to downtown Lake Worth.”
Many brewers, Mathews says, name their beer tanks. He did the same, naming them after the music groups he loves, including Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Metallica. “I wanted to so do something a little different,” he says.
Mathews is also a huge sci-fi fan, which explains why chrome images of Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein are on the outside of the bathroom doors. “Craft brewery is about having fun and that’s what I’m hoping to have here,” he says.
Although Mathews sold his engineering firm, he still works there. “There’s a transition period,” he explains, saying he couldn’t elaborate.
But Mathews is at his new company every day. Working. Brewing. Having fun.
“My longest days are Fridays and Saturdays since I’m here brewing,” he says. “It’s a lot of hours.”