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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saranac Brewery: More than just beer

I’ve been to a lot of breweries (mostly in the northeast), and the F.X. Matt Brewing Company’s Saranac Brewery Tour has been the most memorable thus far.
There was a large crowd there for the tours this past Saturday. I’m sure some of them were going for the beer since you get two glasses of the beer of your choice at the end of the $5 tour. Just getting those two beers is a good deal for the $5, but you get to learn about the history and beer process as well.
The tour hour starts in an oddly-ornate room, for a brewery.
There’s imported dark green wallpaper, detailed ceiling work, and antiques adding to the ambiance. The desk where I signed in was once owned by P.T. Barnum. The grandfather clock next to it is worth more than $1 million.
Then the walls in the room have display cases of past and present beer-related items – steins, Utica Club oilcan beer cans, bumper stickers.
The next room showcases the former and current owners of the brewery that started in 1888.
This is where it starts to turn into every other brewery tour I have been on, but with a twist. Every tour apparently has to include basic background on beer: what’s in it, how to make it. What I liked about this tour was that the rooms we entered to learn about these topics were beautiful.
There’s a Prohibition room, complete with an antique music player and security door to see who is on the other side before opening it. And the room with barrels of hops and grains and Saranac merchandise had one of the most beautiful colorful glass chandeliers I have ever seen.
The actual brewery area was also impressive with huge copper components and tubs of ingredients.
Since we went on a Saturday, the assembly line was not running but we got to see the new parts of the factory that were destroyed in a fire two years ago.
The only mistake I made that afternoon was not eating beforehand. I was definitely a bit tipsy after the two beers at the end of the tour.
The reason I liked this tour was that they focused on their unique history, which is why I go to breweries – not to learn what’s in the beer. I already know that: alcohol J.

The Brewery Shop& Tour Center830 Varick StreetUtica, NY 13502

June - AugustMon. - Sat.1 p.m. & 3 p.m.
Sept. - MayFri. & Sat.1 p.m. & 3 p.m.
Gift Shop HoursMonday through Saturday10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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