Inspired by his brother’s ability to make his own beer at home, Montclair State alumnus Matthew Barbiere turned his love of the beverage into a business.
Although the 29-year-old resident of Westfield, New Jersey was always interested in craft beer, it was not always something he considered as a career choice. After he graduated from Montclair State in 2010 with a major in psychology, the idea to open up a brewing company was not the first thing on Matthew Barbiere’s mind.
“Actually, my career has mostly consisted of education up until this point, but I saw an opportunity and seized it,” he said.
That opportunity came from Matthew Barbiere’s idea two years ago to transform his brother’s brewing talent into a business venture. The brothers officially began selling their beer in September 2015.
Even though his older brother, Jim Barbiere, inspired the decision to create their family-owned company, the name Two Ton came strictly from Matthew Barbiere’s observation of how his brother made the brew.
“While helping him brew countless times, I noticed that he seemed to use a ‘ton’ of hops and a ‘ton’ of grain in his recipes. We thought the name Two Ton for a ton of hops and ton of grain was catchy,” he said, also mentioning the fact that they both put a “ton” of effort into making their idea a reality.
However, it was never an easy process to do so. They had to obtain a liquor license and then distribute the beer, a process Matthew Barbiere referred to as a “roller coaster ride full of hard work, but incredibly rewarding.”
While sitting down with Matthew Barbiere, it was hard not to notice the motivation oozing from his pores. He talked about future goals and dreams he had for the company, some of which were only an arm’s length away, like opening a production facility in New Jersey.
“Motivation is one thing I am never lacking,” he said. “I have been inspired to share my brother’s recipes with the masses, and we have a great team behind it.”
Today, friends of Matthew Barbiere will go out of their way to get their hands on his Two Ton brew. One friend in particular, Brian Engel, has supported their brew before it was even sold on the market. “The first time I ever tried one of Jim and Matt’s beer was in October of 2013,” said Engel. “It was a pumpkin spiced beer that Jim brewed at home in the garage.”
Along with Engel, a friend of Matthew Barbiere’s, Jesse Bambo, is a dedicated supporter of the brew. “I try to tell as many people as I know about it,” said Bambo. “I put it up there with the best craft beers I’ve had.”
One would think that starting a company with family members could be intense and tricky, but the Barbiere family proves this false.
“[It’s] the most amazing and rewarding business experience imaginable,” said Jim Barbiere regarding his time with Two Ton. “I would say we’ve grown closer as friends and I’ve developed a deeper respect for Matt as a person.”
Even though they are a family-owned-and-operated company, they are still taking their work ethic very seriously, meeting regularly for business meetings.
“It revealed to me a side of Matt that I had no idea of,” said his mother. “It also revealed a work ethic that is amazing.”
While Matthew Barbiere continues his sometimes difficult journey with his Two Ton brew, it doesn’t stop him from completing other aspects of his education. Coming this spring, he will receive his degree in education from the graduate school at Montclair State.
“Of course, this company is harder than I thought, but it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” said Matthew Barbiere. “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”