FX Matt Brewing Company

Many beers we know and love are actually brewed by “contract brewers”, who can be hundreds of miles or even entire states away.

“What?! What?!”, you say, “but that’s my hometown beer!”

Now, I hear you and I was surprised to learn this too, but its actually quite common.

A brewery that hires another is called a “contract brewing company”, while the one hired to do the brewing is called the “producer-brewery”.  There are a number of reasons to hire a contract brewer, but its mostly because of the large production demands that cannot be met by small craft breweries.

In New York, the FX Matt Brewing Company (Saranac) brews a number of beer brands we’re familiar with.  Based in the Adirondack Mountains of Utica, NY, they are the fourth oldest family-owned brewery in the country.

Some of the beers they’ve brewed over the years include the following:

And in honor of JD Salinger, who passed away today, I ask you to do a limited release of my Catcher in the Rye beer.

Come on, FX Matt, what do you say?  Throw a guy a bone.  Mr. Salinger would have wanted it that way.

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6 Responses to “A Nip of Knowledge: Contract Brewing”

  1. Josh says:

    I bought a bunch of Harlem Brewing Company Sugar Hill for a house party in Harlem, thinking it was a great way to support a local brewer. They’ve done a ton of marketing in Harlem to make it look like the hometown beer. The beer itself ended up being an OK golden ale, but what got me angry was when I did a closer inspection of the bottle. The beer is a contract beer, brewed up in Sarotoga Springs. That’s about as un-Harlem as you can get.

  2. Josh, interesting point but in essence, you probably were supporting the local brewer. I don’t know the specific brewery you mentioned, but they are most likely the ones in charge of the business end of things (ie the marketing, sales and day-to-day operations).

    The brewing itself may be done up in Saratoga Springs but my guess is its Harlem Brewing Company’s recipes for the beer, as well.
    Perhaps in supporting them now, they may eventually be able to open up a brewery in Harlem and move the operations “home”. I know this is the case with some smaller brewers who can’t afford the extensive (and expensive) equipment needed just yet.

    For what its worth, I say keep buying their beer!

  3. Josh,

    First thank you for buying Sugar Hill beer. I understand your disappointment. As a homebrewer, I started brewing our beer in Harlem and poured everything I own literally into trying to open a brewery in Harlem (that’s another story). The beer you tasted is not only based on my original homebrew recipe, it is often brewed by me when I can afford to drive up to Saratoga Springs to cook with all of our favorite ingredients.
    As you may now realize, many local beers (I don’t need to name them here, I think you have already) are contract brewed. I know many great brewers that simply cannot afford the overhead of a brewery. But a lot more than beer is considered “local” but also contract manufacured by the way. So, I guess it’s all spiritual!
    AND yes, David, we are in fact working towards brewing in Harlem
    on a small scale, so stay tuned. You can see our brewery campaign at kickstarter.com. Thanks much for sharing your thoughts and insight.

    Cheers to You!

    Celeste
    Founder-Brewster

  4. Nice, Celeste, thanks for writing in…I had a feeling that was whats going on and I wish you all the best. I want to get over and taste with you all some time!

  5. Josh says:

    Celeste,

    Thank you for the clarification about Sugar Hill being a local beer, and I’ll be sure to break out a few at my next party!

  6. Celeste says:

    Josh:

    By now I’m sure you’ve tasted some really great local crafts:
    some of my favorites are Kelso, Sixpoints, Hebrew.
    As an update, our brewery project was short listed, meaning
    our bid to construct a brewery in Harlem made the top 3 list, we are hoping to get some good news before Memorial Day. That would mean, moving a step closer to beginning a 2 year process of planning and eventually opening a brewery.

    Thanks for the support!

    Cheers to You!

    Celeste

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