Since its inception, I’ve loved and admired the in-house beer program at Malai Kitchen, particularly how well the restaurant’s Thai-Vietnamese fusion food goes with its Asian-based brews. This year, the Dallas-born restaurant marked two new milestones that have expanded its beer pedigree: a new branch in Southlake serving up amazing suds and the spring arrival of a new brewmaster, Matt Reynolds. Both have brought a ton of terrific anticipation and excitement to the brainchild of co-owners Yasmin and Braden Wages, and the latter addition brings a varied and super-interesting mix of skills to the table.
Reynolds, a University of North Texas grad, has a background and degree in engineering and while working in that field professionally, he honed his talents in beer making as part of the local home-brewing scene. So much so that when the Malai brewer gig opened up, he jumped at the chance to turn his hobby into his new profession.
I had the chance to pick Reynolds’ brain about his brewmastery — here’s what he had to say about his approach and plans at Malai.
So what is your approach to brewing at Malai, particularly where new beers are concerned? How many newbies do you envision adding?
I want to keep with the theme of brewing Thai-Vietnamese inspired beers by incorporating many of the ingredients used in the kitchen into various styles. I’ll also brew beers that are relevant to the current trends – maybe even experiment with a few sour (wild) beers. I don’t have a definite number, but I’m hoping to add one beer a month.
Will you have beers that are unique to just the Southlake location, or just the Dallas one?
We have six taps in Southlake and three taps in Uptown. I’m going to try to split unique beers at each location and have more one-off tappings at each location.
How much input/collaboration will you get/do you desire from the kitchen?
I spend a good majority of the time bouncing ideas off Braden, looking for feedback about what ingredients are in season and the flavor profiles of various spices and fruits.
For new beers, will your primary aim be crafting beer that stands alone or beer that pairs well? Or a balance?
More of a balance. I hope to brew beers that can stand alone as a great beer but also pair will with the cuisine. The beers that showcase the ingredients we use in the kitchen will naturally pair well.
Is brewer’s academy as fun as it sounds??
Yes, it’s pretty fun but also very challenging! I never thought I would learn so much about beer. It will be really fun when I get a chance to visit the campus in Vermont this summer for a week to brew and meet all of my fellow classmates.
Is there a style of beer that’s better/easier for beginners to brew at home?
I would recommend a pale or IPA, something with a decent amount of hops. Hops help stave off infections and bacteria that tend to make home brews more challenging. Plus, I love IPAs and think that everyone should have more hops in their life!