Touring the Matt Brewery…

The last weekend of August, Dan’s family and I went up to visit some of their family friends and relatives in Upstate New York. While most of our time was spent around Syracuse, we took a side trip to Utica to tour the Matt Brewery.

Best known for their Saranac and Utica Club beers, Matt (formerly the West End Brewery) was founded in 1888, one of the oldest family-owned breweries in the US (Yuengling is actually older). Matt has also partnered with smaller breweries such as Brooklyn, Magic Hat, and Lake Placid…mainly to help out with production and distribution.

Pictured below is Matt’s current line of brews: Mostly Saranac. On the top top left is Ubu Ale from partner Lake Placid.

Saranac Product Line

Matt also produces a line of yummy sodas: (l-r) root beer, diet root beer,  orange cream, ginger beer, and a shirley temple soda.

Saranac's Sodas
Sodas were produced under the Utica Club brand during Prohibition… You can see a bottle from that era on the left.

After Prohibition, Matt started producing beers again under the Utica Club brand. Commercials featuring Spokesmugs Shultz and Dooley (And a cast of other colorful characters) appeared in the 50’s and 60’s promoting naturally-made beer.

Schultz and Dooley...

These guys were pretty funny. Here’s Schultz and Dooley in Action… landing on the moon.

Below are some loose malt and hops: Malt is generally made from barley, generally adding more to a beer’s flavor and body…

Loose Caramel Malt

Since Malt tends to be sweet, hops are added to balance the brew out. Your hoppier beers tend to be bitter.

Sample of Hops...

Below is an outline of the brewing process…

Beer Production: Start to Finish

Below: passing by the cereal cooker, which cooks the malt and helps to convert it into mash…

Brewery Cereal Cooker

The mash filter helps to separate liquid from any undissolved solids… Most of us don’t really like extra fiber in our brewskis…

Mash Filter (Closer Up)

The liquid is boiled for a time in brew kettles. At this point, hops are added…

Above the Brew Kettles...

Had to get another shot of the top thanks to the neat striations on the kettle…

Top of Brew Kettle (Close Up)

After straining, the liquid moves to the fermenting tanks. Yeast is then added, and the mixture is often kept for a couple of weeks.

Fermenting Tanks...

Unfortunately, due to construction we didn’t see the aging and packaging stages (perhaps still recovering from their 2008 fire or expanding… or both). We were told the aging vats looked the same as the fermenting tanks, though.

This allowed us to fast forward to, IMHO, the best part of the Matt Brewery tour: Sampling! Matt doesn’t give you a namby-pamby sample… Matt gives you two full pints of whatever you want to sample! Two pints for a 5-Buck tour?  Many varieties on tap?! Brilliant!

Below is Saranac’s Black Forest.I tasted a little too much bitterness for what I thought a Schwarzbier would have had. Perhaps if I had it a hair warmer than ice-cold…Perhaps because I tasted the hops last… Overall, not bad at all…

Saranac Black Forest Pint

Dan made a mess with his Shirley Temple soda… Not a good sign, given I was the only one having alcohol…

Oops... a Mess!

Saranac’s Adirondack Lager was the Brewery’s classic German Amber lager… It also ended a little hoppy, but overall fairly drinkable.

Saranac Adirondack Lager Pint

Dan told me Anheiser-Busch never gave out that large of samples, so I was a very happy gal… Here’s me enjoying my Adirondack Ale…

I Has a Brew...

I generally don’t like my beers hoppy, so the two varieties I tried were relatively good choices. I would happily drink the Black Forest again. I look forward to seeing the rest of the brewery sometime after construction, and maybe I can give their Pomegranate Wheat and Black and Tan a shot, too… (Sure… I can get Saranac by the bottle here, but getting it on tap is tougher in the DC Area…)

Update: Yep… I definitely made the error of not letting the beer warm up a little. Both brews are definitely to be consumed cool, but not ice cold.


About A. Random Hapa

Thirty-something. INFP. Librarian. Brain Tumor Survivor. Hobbyist Singer. Amateur Photographer. Foodie. Craft Beer Fan. Unrepentant geek.

Posted on September 7, 2009, in travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Touring the Matt Brewery… « Sabine…Shot the Food! [] on

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