Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Upstate New York

F.X. Matt Brewery

On December 5, 1933 the Noble Experiment that was Prohibition ended at 12 midnight.  At 12.01am the first beer to be released was the Utica Club Pilsener Lager from the F.X. Matt Brewery Company in Utica, NY.  The brewery started in 1888 by German immigrant Francis Xavier Matt and is still run by the Matt Family today.  This traditional German lagering brewery today produces thier own range under the Saranac label.  It also produces a number of beers under contract, most notably a large proportion for the Brooklyn Brewery, NY.

Before Prohibition, the F.X. Matt Brewery was producing a number of modern-day craft syles including a Porter and an English-style IPA.  Through Prohiition they survived making a range of softdrinks, which they still produce today.  They are also producing conventional craft beer styles such as the Pommegranite Wheat, Pumpkin Ale, Pale Ale, Rye IPA and a great seasonal Imperial IPA at 9%abv which had a huge malt backbone and a very balanced yet aggressive hop character.

Beer can desguised as WW2 grenade.  Release by F.X. Brewing during the war.

The current brewery was commissioned in the 1950's (a brave move post WW2 amongst the prevelant anti-German sentimant).  The lagering capacity of the brewery is quite large.  The most unique difference in the brewhouse here was the Mash Filter.

At one stage, F.X. Matt brewery was one of only 40 or so breweries still operating in the U.S.A.  There was a time where they feared they would have to close, however, the continued on and refused to compromise on quality.  Testamant to this is the number of 'craft brewers' who choose to have F.X. Matt brew many of thier staples and seasonals!  One little known fact is that F.X. Matt brewed that once popular Australian invention Two Dogs alcoholic soda!

Nick Matt, grandson of Francis Xavier, sits as the CEO of the Brewers Associaion and was more than happy to show us around the brewery.   His nephew is CEO of the brewery today.  Great beers from a brewery that will be around for a long time to come!  Thanks Nick for giving us so much of your time.

Nick Matt                                       Francix Xavier Matt

Ommegang Brewery

Close by to Utica, in Cooperstown, is the Ommegang Brewery.  Partly owned by Duvel, the beers coming out of this brewery are remarkable.  On tap at a local restaurant we had the Wit, Belgian Pale, Rare Vos Amber and the Saison.  In bottle, the Three Philosophers and the Ommegedan, a Belgian Strong Ale with brett.  Great beers as you would expect of the Duvel Moortgart Brewery in Belgium.


  1. Ah, good old Utica! There are a few of these family owned breweries around the east coast, astounding survivors of prohibition, consolidation, and now adapting to the craft beer movement. Are you guys headed down the coast towards Delaware (Dogfish Head)? If so, see if you can't arrange a stop in Pottsville, PA. Just head west to Syracuse and turn left at I-81. Keep going till you find the Yuengling Brewery.

  2. Unfortunatly we are pretty tight on time. Not going to Dogfish Head was the hardest cut we had to make! Didnt get to Syracuse, unfortunatly we ran out of time. Our last brewery visit looks to be Goose Island in Chicago.