What do you get when you cross the experience of a 125-year-old brewery with a drive to revolutionize the beer industry? Nothing short of 11 fantastic entries into the country’s largest and most-anticipated beer festival and competition.With innovation brewed into each of F.X. Matt Brewing Co.‘s entries into the 2013 Great American Beer Festival (GABF), Oct. 10-12 in Denver, Colo., everyone at the brewery is excited about their shot at a medal.

“Some may think it’s hard to stay fresh and relevant for a company that has been participating since the festival’s start in 1982,” said company President Fred Matt. “But we’ve been scheming up some pretty outstanding recipes in our new pilot brewery, and I think we’ve got more than a few knockout entries this year.”

So Fresh, So New

F.X. Matt Brewing Co. has pulled out all the stops to celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. That includes feverishly testing and developing new and innovative recipes.

Even Saranac staples – such as Pale Ale, which was entered into competition Category 47: Classic English Style Pale Ale – are getting a fresh new spin. Saranac brewers updated this flagship beer by using their new “Hop Infusion Process,” which maximizes beer-to-hop exposure for an even more refreshing taste. The change hasn’t gone unnoticed: this 5.5% ABV Pale Ale took home a gold medal at the 2013 United States Open Beer Championship.

Some of the new brews entered into the 2013 GABF competition include:

  • Saranac West End IPA, Category 52: American Style IPA, 7.7% ABV – With a name that pays homage to the brewery’s history in the West side of Utica, N.Y., brewers tested countless individual hops in their new pilot brewery to achieve the sharpest, brightest flavor in this great West Coast Style IPA.
  • Tramonay Vineyard Saison, Category 69: French and Belgian Style Saison, 7.4% ABV – This aromatic beer is a brewing marvel featuring a full-flavored grape hybrid from Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, highlighted by three distinctive hops (hallertau blanc, madarina bavaria, and huell melon) bred at the Hop Research Institute in Hull, Germany.
  • Farm to Tap – Fresh Hop IPA, Category 15: Fresh Hop Ale, 7.0% ABV – A true testament to supporting local, this beer uses fresh heirloom hops picked by Saranac fans at local Wrobel Farms to boast an excellent aroma with a dry, citrusy taste and fresh leafy greenness brought on by the unique fresh-hop brewing process.

F.X. Matt Brewing Company thinks these beers are also pretty fantastic – and hopes the judges at this year’s GABF competition do, too:

  • Saranac Pumpkin Ale – Category 5: Field or Pumpkin Beer – Subcategory B: Pumpkin Beer – 5.1% ABV
  • Saranac White IPA – Category 18: American Belgo Style Ale – Subcategory A: Pale American Belgo Style Ale – 6.0% ABV
  • Saranac Adirondack Lager – Category 36: German Style Marzen – 5.5% ABV
  • Saranac Black Forest – Category 39: American Style Dark Lager – 5.3% ABV
  • Saranac Legacy IPA – Category 51: American Style Strong Pale Ale – 6.5% ABV
  • Utica Club – Category 33 American Style Lager or Light Lager – Subcategory A: American Style Lager – 5.0% ABV
  • ProAm Entry: Panther Lake Gose – Category 85: ProAm & Category 65: German-Style Sour Ale – Subcategory B: Leipzig-Style Gose – 7.3%

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

Collaboration is also the name of the game for brewers these days.

In a unique pairing, F.X. Matt Brewing Company joined forces with home brewer Carl Woodward of Panther Lake, N.Y., who took home “Best in Show” in the 2013 New York State Fair Home Brewer’s Competition. F.X. Matt brewers worked with Woodward to develop his Gose recipe into an exceptional entry into GABF’s ProAm competition.

“Collaborations are unique because you get the advantage of having the knowledge and experience of both brewers,” said Rich Michaels, product development manager for F.X. Matt. “Each brewer has a style they love to brew or a technique specific to their brewery, so it’s fun to put our heads together and come up with something that will be really different. The result ends up being a really unique and exceptional beer, both in style and flavor.”