The big brewery on the west side of Utica — the one once called the West End Brewing Co. — hosts the annual Boilermaker Road Race Sunday, Central New York’s largest running event.
That makes this a perfect week to salute the brewery, now known as F.X. Matt (Saranac) Brewing Co., as it celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, all in the hands of the Matt family. That’s a major milestone for any business, especially a brewery in this era of mergers and takeovers.
So here are 10 reasons to toast Matt/Saranac:
1. Buy American. This is the largest brewery in New York state that is American (and New York) owned. Only two New York breweries are bigger — Baldwinsville’s Anheuser-Busch InBev plant, owned by a Belgium-based conglomerate, and Rochester’s Genesee Brewing Co., purchased by a Costa Rican company late last year.
2. Live long and prosper: Since 1888, everyone who has led the company has been named Matt – and they’re only now in the fourth and fifth generations. There must be longevity in beer. It’s the second oldest family-owned brewery in the U.S., after Yuengling.
3. The long national nightmare was over. The company claims it produced the first beer served at the end of Prohibition – 80 years ago.
4. Schultz & Dooley. Cutting edge TV ads (for the 1950s) featuring talking beer steins pitching Matt’s Utica Club beer. If this doesn’t ring a bell, ask your grandfather. See video below.
5. The beer ball.