Wednesday, June 04, 2008

F.X. Matt back in operation

The historic F.X. Matt brewery in Utica, NY, is back in operation after an accidental fire that caused an estimated $10 million in damage.

Production resumed yesterday with a test batch of beer just five days after the fire investigators say was caused when two employees were welding equipment and inadvertently melted a plastic conveyor belt on the second floor. No one was injured in the blaze.

Matt will need to outsource bottling and canning for an unspecified period. Its canning operation was destroyed and its bottling operation damaged. Brewery President Nick Matt said he hopes bottling can be resumed on-premises within a few weeks.

Although at one time Matt brewed its own brand of beer, it now brews numerous beers and soft drinks under contract. Perhaps the best-known brand it creates is Saranac. It is run by the third- and fourth-generations of the Matt family, following the history that began in 1885 when the original F.X. Matt left the Duke of Baden Brewery in Germany's Black Forest region to emigrate to the U.S. to start his own brewery.

He worked for several years at the financially wobbly Bierbaur Brewery, then in 1888 reorganized it into The West End Brewing Co. It became one of the largest of the dozen or so breweries then in operation in the upstate city.

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