This week (finally) marks the grand opening of the Old Rail Brewing Company on the Northshore in Mandeville, LA. This has been a slow process, to say the least, for them to finally get to this point. The permitting process is one that I know they don’t ever want to have to go through again. But the long awaited time is here for owner Nick Powers and brewmaster Matt Horney.
Matt is originally from Michigan, graduating from Michigan State University in 2001, and has worked for both Abita Brewing here in Louisiana and Terrapin in Athens, GA, before being lured back to Louisiana to head up Old Rail. I’ve been able to visit with Matt a few times along the way and I know he’s excited to finally be able to showcase his own beers to the public. Read some of what Matt has to say about Old Rail as well as his experiences as a brewer below.
The Ale Runner: Tell me about your brewing system.
Matt Horney: Our brew house is from Newlands Systems and is a standard 10 BBL system. Newlands is based out of Abbotsford, British Columbia and has done work for Brooklyn and Ninkasi among others. Abbotsford is just east of Vancouver. The system is heated by steam and consists of a Mash Tun, Boil Kettle, and Hot Liquor Tank…as well as 5 fermenters and 6 serving tanks. Supplementing this system will be our water filtration system, carbon filter pre-filtration, followed by a Deionized Filtration.
The Ale Runner: I hear your distribution system is very unique to the US.
Matt Horney: There are only a couple designed like this in the country and ours is one of them. I am not sure who else has it but it’s a very well thought out system. The company responsible for the design is based out of Australia by way of our Beer Distribution Sub-Contractor.
The Ale Runner: I know you worked at Terrapin for a while. How long were you there? And did I hear you were at Abita before that? Any other breweries I’m missing?
Matt Horney: Right, it all started at Abita Beer after a wonderful international career as a Landscape Architect that began following my graduation from Michigan State University in 2001… Like most in the industry I spent quite a few years homebrewing….. My dad, a former Stroh’s Brewing Co. Lab Tech, started homebrewing in the early 90’s and in 2000 I discovered all of his equipment in the basement. I brewed and brewed and my parents supported me every step of the way….from tasting and competitions to making a major career change. So when the economics of landscape architecture took a down turn I saw an opportunity.. I worked at Abita for just over 6 months before getting the call from Terrapin; a brewery that I followed as the Georgia beer scene exploded in the early 2000’s and one that I hold very much love and respect for. The 30 bbl manual brew house was so much fun, extremely fast paced, and exemplified what it means to be a craft brewery. I absolutely loved being a part of Terrapin but I felt there was so much more to be done……and so I found my way back to Louisiana to commission and oversee the brewhouse at the Old Rail.
The Ale Runner: I know we talked about some of the core beers you are planning to have at Old Rail. Can you tell me about each? And what other beers are you excited to brew?
Matt Horney: Right now we are looking at serving about 6 beers with capacity for 8. As for styles we’ll be covering a wide array of beers. Our possibilities are endless and you can expect every beer style to be given consideration as we move forward.
(See below picture)
The beers from left to right are Munich (Hobo) Helles, Gold Spike Hefeweizen, 7 Sisters IPA, Echo Sierra Bravo (ESB), Rusty Rail Ale (an amber/red ale) and Cow Catcher Milk Stout.
I’m excited to get over to Mandeville and check out Old Rail soon. It’s certainly nice to have another Louisiana brewery open, and in my opinion, Louisiana needs more of these type brewpubs. Sure, they can only sell on premise, but to go growlers will be available for off premise consumption.
Old Rail’s facility is beautiful. There is ample room for everything from grabbing a meal to hosting a party. There’s also a lot of patio space to enjoy the view of Old Mandeville. Check out a few more pics of Old Rail below.