Meet Matthew Cummings; brewer, glass maker, entrepreneur, husband and father. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Matthew while being able to experience glass making first hand. We met at his taproom, Pretentious Beer Co, and had a few beers while he showed me the process of brewing his own kombucha and soda (next is is beer and I can't wait to see what they've got in store for Knoxville in the coming year!) He took me next door to Pretentious Glass Co. where he showed me his favorite pieces that he's made over the years. Matthew probably won't tell you this because of how humble he is with his glass making but this guy is no rookie. He's been blowing and creating glass pieces for years, having graduated from a college program and been showcased in many prestigious galleries, many pieces of which have been purchased and commissioned by large companies. We then went to his house in West Knoxville where I got to meet his little family and pups. This guy is bringing amazing things to Knoxville and I am so excited to introduce my audience to him and what he does! Enjoy!
Name: Matthew Cummings
How long have you lived in the Knoxville area?: 2 years
Were you born/raised in Knoxville?: I grew up in Albany, KY, a small rural town on the Tennessee border located smack dab between Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow Lake.
What is your occupation and where do you work?: I am a designer, glassblower, entrepreneur, brewer, and beer nerd. Luckily, I get to express all those interests at my two businesses. Pretentious Glass Co, a handmade glassblowing studio/gallery, and Pretentious Beer Co, a craft beer bar that is transitioning into a brewery as we speak.
What is your favorite thing about your job?: My favorite thing about running Pretentious Beer and Glass Co is that no two days are the same. Last week, I was blowing glass all day when Chef Jeffrey from Oli Bea brought over seared Lamb racks for us to try. The next day I met with Will Brady (the co-brewer at Pretentious Beer) and we visited Alliance Brewing Company to check out their water filtration system. The day after that was the Dogwood Arts Market Square Festival and when that closed at 9, I got back to Pretentious Beer Co just in time to see a great band from New York play on our stage. On the glass side, we are always working on crazy custom projects, making our standard beer glasses, prototyping out new designs, or getting ready for events. On the beer side, we are constantly trying new beers to the market, honing how the bar is run, developing and testing new beer recipes, and working on getting the brew system in....and I get to bridge the gap between the two endeavors. It is a ton of fun, and challenging. There are new problems and obstacles to deal with everyday, but I have a great group of people here that make all this madness....well....wonderful madness.
What do you do for fun?: Hands down my favorite thing to do for fun is to hang out with Stephanie, aka Wifey and my 15 month old son, Logan. I have always been a workaholic, and the birth of Logan immediately defined a limited work schedule. He has literally made me stop and smell the roses (which we do everyday at home). I love to hang out at my friends breweries. Especially before they open to the public, so I can sit around while they brew, talk about beer and try their new offerings. I also have a blast when Jeffrey Dealejandro and I geek out about food/beer pairings and plan outrageous beer dinners. We just crushed the first Makers Dinner at the Mill and Mine. We have a ridiculously good time executing those events and I think it really comes through in the food and beer.
Do you have a unique/fun hobby?: Haha, yes! I blow glass and make beer. My career/life is my hobby. I took the things that I loved doing and made them into businesses. I am addicted to gardening right now, that might be the closest I come to a "hobby", but even that, I am growing herbs for my beers, sodas and kombuchas. Pineapple Sage is really inspiring some cool recipes. I am thinking about revamping my White ThiaPA recipe with Sorachi Ace Hops, Lemongrass, and Pineapple Sage. See!! Everything comes full circle back to the glass and beer sides. I get to do what I love and there is enough complexity to glass and beer that I could spend a lifetime, just exploring the possibilities in either studio.
What is your favorite outdoor activity?: Gardening! Growing herbs to use in my beer, soda and kombucha recipes. I am also really into succulents right now...thanks Samwich!
If you had to pick one restaurant in Knoxville to eat at for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?: Man, that is a tough one! I am a huge foodie, and the Knoxville food scene has exploded in the last couple of years. Oli Bea would be my first choice, but I am such good friends with Jeffrey, that wouldn't be fair. So it would probably be Kaizen. Jesse's steamed buns are freaking addictive! Give me a Nashville Bun, a Thai Sausage Bun, an order of Dan Dan noodles and some Old Style, I am set! Plus he does great specials and is always changing the menu. Very close spots would have to be Lonesome Dove, Wright's Cafeteria, Emilias, Knox Mason, Stock and Barrel, Jackies, A Dobo.
What is one thing you like about your home that you think is unique?: This house was built by my wife's grandparents. My mother-in-law grew up in this house, it has a lot of character and history for the family. It is in a great neighborhood with huge old trees, more moss on the ground than grass because of the shade from the trees. Stephanie's whole family is really into gardening, and they have an awesome style about it.
Do you have any pets?: I have a crazy cat that we adopted in Memphis, TN when Stephanie was in med school there. He is kinda a psychopath, but we love him! Stella is a 5 year old Golden Retriever/setter mix. We adopted her from Adopt A Golden Knoxville. Janet (my mother in law) was her foster mom, and we were visiting her several years ago and met Stella. As soon as she ran over to Stephanie, put her paw gently on her lap and set politely listening to what Steph was saying, we fell in love! She is our little princess. Riley is a 5 year old cuddle puppy that we adopted from the Humane Society in Louisville. He was our first dog that we adopted. We went to the Humane Society just to "look" at dogs...haha, that is impossible! Riley picked us out and we brought him home with us that day. We were told that he was a 40lb lab mix, which pretty much any black dog at an adoption facility is called a lab mix, right? When we took him to the Vet the next day, our vet tech came in and screamed that he was such a cute DANE puppy and that she had three. He is a 110 lb Great Dane/Hound Dog mix and is the biggest cuddler of the house.
Last but not least, what do you love about Knoxville?: The people! We have great beer, food and music in this town, but it is all because of the wonderful people that make it happen. Behind every brewery is an interesting and friendly brewer. Same thing with the food.