The ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ of Brewers

The F.X. Matt Brewing Company | Courtesy of F.X. Matt Brewing Co.

The F.X. Matt Brewing Company | Courtesy of the F.X. Matt Brewing Co.

The Francis Xavier (F.X.) Matt Brewing Company in Utica, New York — producer of the Saranac line of beers and soft drinks — is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of beer makers.

Like the candy company in Roald Dahl’s famous children’s book, the brewery is family-owned and -operated; and a quirky tourist destination full of oddities from the past (including a grandfather clock valued at $1 million). And in place of Dahl’s chocolate river is a steady stream of the other golden-brown elixir — beer. The brewery also has a yearly promotion where a handful of lucky patrons get the chance to “take over” the brewery for a night. They gain entry by finding bottles randomly wrapped in “golden tickets.” Sound familiar?

Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, the brewery is the second-oldest family-run organization of its kind in the United States. F.X. (the man) learned the beer-making trade in Germany; and all these years later, the brewery is still in the family: His grandson, Nick Matt; and great-grandson, Fred Matt, run it together.

Of course, beer this good could not be isolated to upstate New York. In fact, F.X. Matt Brewery shares its wealth with us every day here in New York City. First, you wouldn’t be drinking Brooklyn Lager if it weren’t for Matt Brewing (through a partnership, they brew and bottle the Brooklyn Brewery beer line in the Utica factory). Second, Saranac is a staple at many a local city bar.

Here we have the top 10 Saranac-serving bars (according to the brewery’s distributor):

If you’re not the beer-drinking type, we’d suggest running in the Boilermaker 15K instead, an annual event that takes place the second weekend in July among the hilly streets of Utica. It ends, of course, at the brewery — cups of beer are handed out to all runners who finish (the company estimates they kick 200 kegs before 12 noon!).

How do we know it’s worth your while? We’ve run it three times! Don’t believe us: Here are last year’s horrible results.

  • Roscoe Conkling

    This town is an undiscovered Gem Upstate!