April 22, 2021

How Mass. brewer’s tragic experiences have shaped his business

Most companies and their names have some sort of backstory.Matt Smith, founder of Wandering Soul…

Most companies and their names have some sort of backstory.Matt Smith, founder of Wandering Soul Beer Company, says the name of his brewery was supposed to belong to a rock ‘n’ roll band.”It just blows my mind because this was never really supposed to be a business,” Smith said.Smith, who is also a musician, wears his life both figuratively and literally on his sleeve.The latest run of Wandering Soul beer is called “It Used to Be” in honor of his best friend and high school bandmate, Ryan McCabe, who died in a tragic skateboarding accident on their first day of school senior year. For Smith, it was important to have McCabe’s story shared on every can of that beer.”This beer is really powerful to me, and the beer came out phenomenal,” Smith said. “It’s an IPA with citrus, mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops.”Smith spent a decade working for other beer companies and brewed his own beer at home, accumulating his own catalog of recipes that he hoped to recreate on a larger scale one day.On a fateful day four years ago, Smith suffered a soul-crushing experience that indirectly sent him on the path to start Wandering Soul.”In May of 2017, we lost our first daughter,” he said. “My wife was 35 weeks and two days pregnant, so she was full-term — so (our daughter) was stillborn.”Overwhelmed with grief, Smith says he poured all of his energy into realizing his dream of owning his own beer company.The first beer to make it to mark it was “Melody Maker,” which is named in memory of his daughter, Melody.”That’s my way of kind of staying connected with her and having a legacy for her,” Smith said. “Not a typical way that a brewery would start. But, for me, it was really important to take that experience and just have it channel right through Wandering Soul.”Even though each brew has a name and meaning connected to a person or concept, Smith says he does not want people to think of Wandering Soul as the “sad beer” company. He states that he wants people to think the exact opposite.”For me, Wandering Soul is a symbol of hope,” Smith said. “Yes, there are sad experiences. That’s one way to look at it. There’s also a flipside.”I feel connected to Melody every day through this,” he added. “I don’t know if I would have had that if I hadn’t started this or something. It’s just the way it took shape.”Smith says Wandering Soul is just at the beginning of its journey as a company and that he is leaning on the generosity from another local brewery, despite having distribution all over New England, New Jersey and Maryland.Wandering Soul has teamed up with Bent Water Brewing Company, which is also in Lynn, to help with the brewing, canning and shipping process.

Most companies and their names have some sort of backstory.

Matt Smith, founder of Wandering Soul Beer Company, says the name of his brewery was supposed to belong to a rock ‘n’ roll band.

“It just blows my mind because this was never really supposed to be a business,” Smith said.

Smith, who is also a musician, wears his life both figuratively and literally on his sleeve.

The latest run of Wandering Soul beer is called “It Used to Be” in honor of his best friend and high school bandmate, Ryan McCabe, who died in a tragic skateboarding accident on their first day of school senior year.

For Smith, it was important to have McCabe’s story shared on every can of that beer.

“This beer is really powerful to me, and the beer came out phenomenal,” Smith said. “It’s an IPA with citrus, mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops.”

Smith spent a decade working for other beer companies and brewed his own beer at home, accumulating his own catalog of recipes that he hoped to recreate on a larger scale one day.

On a fateful day four years ago, Smith suffered a soul-crushing experience that indirectly sent him on the path to start Wandering Soul.

“In May of 2017, we lost our first daughter,” he said. “My wife was 35 weeks and two days pregnant, so she was full-term — so (our daughter) was stillborn.”

Overwhelmed with grief, Smith says he poured all of his energy into realizing his dream of owning his own beer company.

The first beer to make it to mark it was “Melody Maker,” which is named in memory of his daughter, Melody.

“That’s my way of kind of staying connected with her and having a legacy for her,” Smith said. “Not a typical way that a brewery would start. But, for me, it was really important to take that experience and just have it channel right through Wandering Soul.”

Even though each brew has a name and meaning connected to a person or concept, Smith says he does not want people to think of Wandering Soul as the “sad beer” company. He states that he wants people to think the exact opposite.

“For me, Wandering Soul is a symbol of hope,” Smith said. “Yes, there are sad experiences. That’s one way to look at it. There’s also a flipside.

“I feel connected to Melody every day through this,” he added. “I don’t know if I would have had that if I hadn’t started this or something. It’s just the way it took shape.”

Smith says Wandering Soul is just at the beginning of its journey as a company and that he is leaning on the generosity from another local brewery, despite having distribution all over New England, New Jersey and Maryland.

Wandering Soul has teamed up with Bent Water Brewing Company, which is also in Lynn, to help with the brewing, canning and shipping process.