Tag Archives: saranac

Visiting Saranac Brewery

Last week I traveled out to Utica, NY to visit the Matt Brewing Company, home to Saranac beer. As the second oldest family-owned brewery in the country, and the oldest in New York State, the Matt Brewery is rich with history. As soon as you enter the tour center at 830 Varick Street, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a museum. Originally the bottling works of the brewery, the tour center was designed and decorated back in the 60’s, by Walter Pfeiffer – a leading Victorian architect at the time. The room, featuring high-ceilings and Italian tile floors, is filled with Victorian-era antiques… Certainly not the type of decor that I’m used to seeing at a brewery!

The tour begins with a history lesson as our guide points out a display case full of old bottles and cans representing the numerous products and brands produced at the brewery over the years. From the first 1888 Lager made by The West End Brewing Company, founded by F.X. Matt the same year, to the current line-up including Saranac Beer & Soft Drinks, Utica Club, and a number of other specialty products for smaller breweries. Recently ranked the 12th largest* brewery in the United States, and 6th* out of the top 50 US Craft Breweries, the Matt Brewing Company has a lot to be proud of.

saranac brewery tour

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Saranac Hop Harvest 2012

saranac-hop-harvest

The sun feels hot on my back as the sticky bines cling to my fingers. It’s calm and meditative work, picking hops by hand, no doubt very much the way it was done years ago, when these heirloom varieties were first harvested.  Fresh resinous smells waft up towards my face, as I watch the hop cones drop into the basket in front of me, one by one. I look around at smiling faces, long tables lined with volunteers, all happy to be a part of the harvest.

harvesting hopswrobel farms - bridgewater, nybushel of hops

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Sherwood Inn: Saranac Summer Beer-B-Que

The following is a guest post, written by a good friend of mine, Ryan Conaughty.  I met Ryan while he was studying for his Masters in Creative Writing at SUNY Brockport.  He’s taught me a lot about craft beer and has been a huge supporter of this site since it’s inception.  If you enjoy his writing, I recommend checking out his bike journal titled, TransAm Blues, wherein he tells the story of the time he rode his bicycle across the whole freaking country, by himself.  He’s a great writer, a great friend, and he knows a whole lot more about beer than I do.  Enjoy!

sherwood inn

The Sherwood Inn sits on the northern shore of Skaneateles Lake, an emblem of vintage class and elegance. It’s a gorgeous building; beautifully simplistic. It stands with subtle dignity, a testament to the days of nickel beers and horse-drawn carriages. To me, it represents a lifestyle we lost somewhere along the way: one without constant and immediate technological distractions that rip us away from each other while pretending to connect us. The Sherwood Inn is a building that reminds me of the good old days that we easily forget about and then wish that we could somehow get back.

the good old days

The lighting is soft and low inside the Inn. The bar in the tavern is old and comforting. It’s dark and there’s a low murmur with the sounds of clinking glass and bottles. It’s one of those bars you walk into and you can feel the stories emanate from the scratches and scuffs in the gloss of the wood. It feels as though you’ve stepped back into the past and it feels completely natural to be there. Outside, the sun is slipping out of the sky toward the horizon and people are beginning to sit down for dinner. There is a small table with various NY cheeses: sharp, smoked, creamy, it’s all beautiful. I see servers walk past me with balsamic onion and goat cheese tartlets and another with bacon wrapped dates. There is a large table with cold bottles and cans of Saranac Blueberry Blonde, Summer, and Pale Ale that people are helping themselves to.

More About The Saranac Summer Beer-B-Que…