F.X. Matt Brewing Company is the second-oldest family run brewery in the United States. The brewery has been around since 1888 and is named in honor of the progenitor, Francis Xavier Matt I. Nick Matt (Chairman/CEO) and nephew Fred Matt (President/COO) have managed to keep it in the family. Matt brewery was the 13th largest producer in 2010 and the 7th largest craft brewery. Their lagers and ales swing towards the more traditional side with some excellent representations of style (particularly German/Bavarian). They also do quite a good deal of contract brewing.
Location: Utica, New York
Type: Production brewery
Available in DC Market: Yes
Beer #1: White IPA (White IPA/ 6% ABV)
Notes: Oh, the White IPA. Honestly, when I first heard of the style, I was a bit skeptical of wheat malt’s ability to create any sort of meaningful canvas for the hop-forward flavors we’ve come to value in our IPAs. I always thought it would be like Jackson Pollack trying to paint in black and white, or listening to Slayer play an acoustic set. Thankfully, I was (for the most part) mistaken. It takes a deft hand to melt the bright flavors of a wheat beer with the bright, bracing bitterness of an IPA and few do it particularly well (Anchorage Brewing’s Galaxy is the best I’ve found). Saranac, thankfully, does a decent job with the style. By combining the lightness of a witbier (including the requisite orange peel and coriander) with the citrusy aromas of a Citra-hopped IPA, Saranac pulls forth some of the best elements of both styles. Is it the best White IPA you’ll find out there? Probably not. Still, if you’re looking for an interesting break from the heavy hitters of the evening, this beer may be worth a shot.
Note: The original version of this post had “High Peaks Lemon Ginger Saison” as Saranac’s first beer. SAVOR has since updated their list to include the Blueberry Blonde Ale in place of the Lemon Ginger Saison. Thanks to commenter “Bruce” for noticing.
Beer Advocate: 86 (96 Reviews)
Rate Beer: 87 overall, 65 style
Beer #2: Blueberry Blonde Ale (Blonde Ale/ 5% ABV)
Notes: On a hot summer day, this could be a beer you want in your cooler. Served ice cold, this blond brewed with wheat malt and oats is something you could drink for hours on end and still live to tell the tale. With a hazy gold appearance, low overall bitterness and a bit of (what I’m assuming is) blueberry flavoring, expect something light and refreshing, though not particularly complex. Stop by for a sip of this if you need to wake your palette back up after something dark and heavy.
Beer Advocate: 79 (15 Reviews)
Rate Beer: 35 overall, 62 style
F.X. Matt / Saranac doesn’t always push the envelope in the ways we’ve come to expect from our craft brewers, especially at an event like SAVOR. Regardless, they’ve been around so long for a reason (besides contract brewing, you snarky folks out there). Though they may not represent the pinnacle of your “craft beer experience” in the National Building Museum, you have to give the guys credit for their ability to balance business with beer.
This profile is a part of the DCBEER.COM SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2012 SAVOR participants.
Beer Review Disclaimer: The beer reviews found on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do not represent the opinions of this site. We provide these in the hope that they will serve as a resource showing what some craft beer fans have thought of the beers. These reviews can be a helpful guideline, but are not the be-all end-all about a beer’s strengths or weaknesses.