When Peekskill Brewery’s Brewmaster Stepped Down, He Stepped Up
Meet Matt Levy, Peekskill Brewery’s new wunderkind brewmaster—and learn about the beers that have influenced him most.
When Peekskill Brewery’s brewmaster Jeff O’Neil—who introduced crowd-pleasing concoctions like Simple Sour—departed in mid-March, the brewery didn’t have to go far to find a brewing ace to replace him. The brewery, a respected player in the nation’s craft beer scene, found its point man (or perhaps pint man) in Matt Levy, a Westchester-raised brewing wunderkind.
Levy, just 24, started home-brewing while at the University of Michigan. “During class, I’d have a brewing science book in front of my textbook,” he says. “I enjoyed getting better at it.” After pestering Captain Lawrence Brewing Company owner Scott Vaccaro, Levy, a Briarcliff High School grad, landed a summer internship, during which he picked up brewing pointers from the pros while lugging kegs around. Levy then spent a year with Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Michigan before ending up back at Captain Lawrence after graduating, this time as a full-time staffer. While he toiled on the packaging line, Levy’s pilot-system beers—staffer-produced, small-batch ales—were extraordinarily well received in the Captain Lawrence taproom.
Levy was hired as an assistant brewer at Peekskill in August. After a short time training under the well-respected O’Neil, Levy brewed his first beer at Peekskill, which went on to win a silver medal for American-Style Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival. “Matt’s attention to detail and emphasis on the quality of the product is fantastic,” says Peekskill Brewery Partner Kara Berardi. “We knew right away he’d be a good fit.” Now, Levy is ready to leave his mark on the Peekskill tap lineup. “I’ve been brewing other people’s beers for the last four years,” he says. “I’m real excited to get creative again.”
From left, the beers that have most influenced Levy: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Founders Red’s Rye IPA, and Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bière