kyle mathias, head brewer at sandy valley brewing co. in hillsboro photo by zachary linhares

Sandy Valley Brewing Co.'s Kyle Matthias gives back to the community while brewing delicious, unique beers

Making a career-altering decision in grad school isn’t easy, but a few words of encouragement from his future mother-in-law persuaded Kyle Matthias to drop a doctoral degree in nutritional biology to focus his energy on brewing. Matthias’ early days in brewing at Morgan Street Brewery and Modern Brewery eventually led to a role as production brewer at Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, where he designed well-known beers like Fresh Haze and Squeezy Rider. His childhood taught him the importance of giving back and, in his current role as head brewer at Sandy Valley Brewing Co. in Hillsboro, Missouri, Matthias’ mission is to brew delicious and unique beers, support others – his beers have raised funds for suicide prevention, Maui wildfire relief efforts and other causes – and put some good out into the world. 

“I graduated undergrad with a nutrition degree, and a doctorate seemed like the next logical step. I went into it thinking this was a path for me to potentially get into academia and research. My studies at that time were based on nutrition’s effects on stress, and I was going into the stress and mental health side of the trade. But I was also using that year as a stopgap, to figure it out while making progress toward, potentially, what I wanted to do.”

“I had explored brewing as a career option in the past, but never really thought it would amount to anything. I was always drawn to the creativity of brewing, but there was also the part of me that really liked science. When I got into the [brewing] classroom, I quickly realized how much science was involved [in brewing] and how you could manipulate that science to create something, so there was a creative outlet. There was this artistic side that I could express by using science. So both of those things which I really loved came through in the final product of beer.”

“I was back in St. Louis talking about the potential of dropping out to pursue brewing, and my mother-in-law just made a simple comment: ‘If you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, you should figure out what makes you happy and do that.’” 


photo by zachary linhares


“I think the first thing I realized at Deschutes is how diverse our beer scene is here in St. Louis. Out there it’s so IPA heavy and, while the beer is good, it kind of felt like every brewery we went to, the lineup was pretty much the same. It’s like, you got 10 taps, here’s six IPAs, a lager, a red and a dark. I really feel like St. Louis has, in my experience, one of the most well-rounded, diverse beer scenes out there.”

“My time at Deschutes influenced how I approach things now. I was the lead R&D (research and development) and new product development brewer, I would be given a cost-of-goods ceiling and be asked to make IPAs that cost $40 or less per barrel. First and foremost, it was important to make the most impactful, delicious IPAs that I could given that cost restraint and capitalize on the trends in the market. At small breweries, like Sandy Valley, how do you make a delicious IPA with hops that aren’t the cool or sexy Citras or Mosaics? There’s a lot of cool hops out there that are public varietals and those are what we use in our IPA, Commons. That’s the idea, that these public varietal hops are just as cool as the expensive hops, but they don’t have the dollar sign associated with it because there’s not these huge marketing campaigns behind them.”

“Philanthropy has always been a part of my life, and I think it comes from my mom, honestly, who instilled in me at a young age that if you can put some good out into the world, you should. There’s this drive in me to do good for people and make sure that people are taken care of.”

“I think, for me, the draw to Sandy Valley was the beauty of the location. I’ve always thought about starting my own place and, in my mind, it was always a place like this. Because that just kind of vibes to me with the beers I like to produce, using foraged ingredients, locally farmed stuff. It just made a lot of sense to me.”

“We’ve used a ton of locally sourced ingredients and we source from local farms too. We’ve used local apples, grapes, maple syrup, pawpaws, black locust flowers, marigolds, clary sage, white pine. There’s a pantry right outside your door.” 

“I guess I just want Sandy Valley to be a place where people can realize what’s possible as a small business or as a person, the things that can happen if you just connect with the community, with the environment. Again, put some good out into the world. With our individual efforts, I think we can make a big difference. Maybe I’m asking a lot for people who just want to come in to drink a beer, but maybe come here and just escape for a bit, learn something from one of our unique beer names, enjoy a beer with weird ingredients that you didn’t know about before you got here and leave just feeling better for it.”

Bill Moran is the creator behind the Instagram account @st.louis_taverns, where he anonymously reviews bars throughout the St. Louis area.