Yankee Brew News October/November 2013 : Page 1
SHANTYTOWN Denizens of Shantytown revel in games and the abundance of good beer at the elusive and somewhat secretive annual festival. PHOTOS BY SHANTYTOWN STAFF By Paul Busa veryone who has thrown a party, be it a back-yard bar-becue or a Superbowl wl party, knows the he e demands, planning and stresses e es involved. After the guests are invited there are numerous tasks to accomplish: shopping, g, cleaning, maybe even borrow-w-ing furniture. And while the guests are there, even further responsibilities arise: serv-ing, restocking, keeping the tunes going and making ing sure people are happy. Above bove all, the party should never lag. Finally, once the guests have gone and all is cleaned up, the question is asked: Was it worth it? For those who organize Shantytown, n, the answer is a resounding yes. Imagine a 24-hour brewhaha for more than han 100 people, months in making, with homebrewed the ma beer a and barbecue aplenty; themed them teams competing for prizes; prize and live music with a well-designed camping w area. are A complete deconstruc-tion tio of Shantytown’s organization can serve or as a inspiration for those who w want their party to ascend from a good time a to o something legendary. L-R: Nick R. Matt (fourth generation and Brand Manager), Fred Matt (fourth generation and President) & Nick Matt (third generation and Chairman) PHOTO COURTESY OF F.X. MATT By Niko Krommydas Now in its seventh year, Shantytown was originally Sh planned as a birthday party plan where a small group of whe friends would drag cases frien of craft beer into the woods, crank some woods rock and a roll on the boom box, grill a few burgers burge and eventually stumble stum into the con-venience of a nearby veni tent or hammock. As the years went on, more mo and more tents would find them-wo selves staked out se around the fire, and ar it didn’t take long for f someone to See Shantytown p. 4 Beginnings B Matt Brewing, opened by Francis Xavier (F.X.) Matt I in Utica, N.Y., in 1888, has surmounted significant obstacles during its 125-year history. The paralysis of Prohibition, instituted in 1919, forced the production of soft drinks and malt tonic to remain afloat. A catastrophic fire in 2008, ignited by a welder’s spark, destroyed two warehouse floors and suspended packaging opera-tions. The family-owned brewery, currently operated by the third and fourth genera-tions of the Matt family, has persevered and thrived, however, with a “commit-ment to distinctive and drinkable beers,” said Fred Matt, Chairman and CEO. This commitment, exhibited with a catalog of Saranac-branded beers and a contract-brewed clientele, has propelled F.X. Matt to become the eighth-largest craft brewery in the U.S., according to Brewers Association, producing 350,000 barrels per year. There are more than 125 years of beer at F.X. Matt, however; there are 125 years of family-brewed beer. The Beginning After apprenticing at Baden, Germany’s Duke of Baden Brewery, Matt I immigrated to Utica in 1878. He started beer-making at Charles Bierbauer Brewery and, in 1888, converted the fal-tering brewery to West End Brewing Co. West End, initially a 12-employee brew-See F.X. Matt p. 6 INSIDE Events Calendar .............. 2 Tasting Panel................... 8 A Catholic Ale ................10 Homebrew ......................12 Beer Cooks .....................13 Maps/Directory ..........18-23 State by State News E. Massachusetts ....................14 Boston ......................................16 W. Massachusetts ...................24 Maine ........................................26 New Hampshire .......................28 Connecticut ..............................30 Vermont ....................................32 Rhode Island ............................34 NYC/Long Island ......................36 Upstate NY ...............................38
The Ultimate Private Brewhaha
Everyone who has thrown a party, be it a backyard barbecue or a Superbowl party, knows the demands, planning and stresses involved. After the guests are invited there are numerous tasks to accomplish: shopping, cleaning, maybe even borrowing furniture. And while the guests are there, even further responsibilities arise: serving, restocking, keeping the tunes going and making sure people are happy. Above all, the party should never lag. Finally, once the guests have gone and all is cleaned up, the question is asked: Was it worth it?
For those who organize Shantytown, the answer is a resounding yes. Imagine a 24-hour brewhaha for more than 100 people, months in the making, with homebrewed beer and barbecue aplenty; themed teams competing for prizes; and live music with a well-designed camping area.
A complete deconstruction of Shantytown’s organization can serve as inspiration for those who want their party to ascend from a good time to something legendary.
Now in its seventh year, Shantytown was originally planned as a birthday party where a small group of friends would drag cases of craft beer into the woods, crank some rock and roll on the boom box, grill a few burgers and eventually stumble into the convenience of a nearby tent or hammock. As the years went on, more and more tents would find themselves staked out around the fire, and it didn’t take long for someone to suggest they had sprung up like a derelict shantytown.
Always held on the same holiday weekend, Shantytown happens on a wooded plot of private property in Massachusetts. Some might imagine that a party of this size would generate some anger and frustration from the neighbors. That’s not the case with Shantytown. While the main event lasts for a full day and night, the day before is an occasion for members of the neighborhood and their families to stop by, grab some refreshments and walk the campground. Many neighbors actually look forward to the main event and even cozy up on their own decks and listen to the live music.
Planning a party of Shantytown’s magnitude doesn’t just happen overnight or by a single person. The Shantytown staff is made up of about 12 to 15 people and is divided into several “teams” or committees with one captain and several volunteers running each faction. Team captains delegate their own meeting schedules and manage their own budgets, and the entire group gets together for major meetings three or four times ahead of the event. The team concept also applies to Shantytown’s financing: every staff member (and other guests, if interested) is encouraged to sign on as “contributors.” A contributor will generally send a couple hundred dollars to the treasury securing a total spending budget ahead of time, which will then be distributed among the respective committees.
The Shantytown beer lineup and its delivery system have gone through several stages of evolution. After seven years, there is now a seemingly endless flow of suds, featuring 15 or so 16 barrel kegs on rotating taps through the event. The tap setup is an innovation in itself. Five large tree trunks are arranged in a circle, drilled through to hold its levered spigot, creating a “tap forest.” During the party, chalkboards are regularly updated to inform guests as to what they’re drinking at any given time. And for those who happen to be on the other side of the campground and want to know what’s on tap before sauntering back to the taps, there’s an app for that. Shantytown attendees can also send a text to a specified number and get up-to-the-minute updates.
Generally, most if not all the beer is homebrewed by a couple members of the Shantytown staff, but recently the event has reached out and been able to acquire a keg or two from other local brewers.
While the camping at Shantytown was once left to chance, an entire village of tent sites has now been constructed. The ease with which partygoers can find a place to rest their heads helps get them right in the mood for a late-night party. Armed with their leaf blowers, chain saws and shovels, Team Landscaping manicures the campgrounds and repairs any damage from the winter months. A network of roadways connect the expansive camp grounds, all featuring amiable street signs including The Thoroughfare, Road Street and Mean Street. Those who are looking for the gaming area would be well advised to check the map for The Egg Way to Bacon Town.
Mr. Phil, the Mayor of Shantytown, rides around his kingdom on a customized golf cart greeting gracious guests and sharing his incomparable gaiety for the event and the camaraderie its creates.
Like any large gathering, the most anticipated occurrence is when and how to deal with the arrival of guests. Since this party is held at a private residence, they can’t just all park on the street. Once again, the Shantytown staff is in full effect running a series of shuttle cars that show patrons where to park nearby and then transport them and their gear back to the party. After that, they’re free to follow the “FUN” sign down to the event area and let the fun begin. While there is no formal admission to enter the shindig, a “suggested donation” will get a wrist band, a bottomless beer cup, three barbecued meals, a campsite, a spot on a team in the Shanty Olympics and a front row seat to some foot-stomping live music. After all, this is just a private party, not a for-profit event. All proceeds provide a return to Shantytown’s contributors, repayment for new tools and if they’re lucky, a few bucks to throw in the pot for next year.
A feature of Shantytown from the beginning, Shantytown gaming has been refined to include themed teams, quick rounds of competition and prizes that often have nothing to do with the games being played. The days of one-on-one competition at Shantytown went out with powdered wigs. Guests now pledge their allegiance to one of four teams, themed and color coded, and earn points through a victory in everything from old favorites like Polish Horseshoes, Tug-of-war and Ladder Golf to innovative games like Kuub, Giant Jenga and Project Egg-Drop. (Project Egg-Drop re-lives the thrill of middle school science class: players are given a set of objects and a goal. The first one to utilize their objects to complete the task wins.)
But everyone is a winner at Shantytown. Points are tallied in the end, crowning one team victorious. A separate ribbon ceremony awards guests based on their participation or experience including Best Costume, Town Drunk, Best Newbie and Most in Need of a Hug. Another big annual prize is Shantytown MVP, awarded to the most enthusiastic, energetic and convivial attendee. In the end, team games bring unity to the party; they solve the challenge of how to merge 100 diverse people into one collective group when each guest only knows a fraction of their fellow party-goers. Everyone makes 10 new friends to party the day and night away with.
With the thirst for strong drink also comes the hunger for good eats. Feeding the masses at Shantytown takes a week of prep, two days of cooking and a mountain of barbecued meats. It also takes a proper kitchen. Shantytown features a fully functional, hand built, outdoor kitchen with a working sink, a custom insulated cooler, granite prep tables, a buffet-sized serving table, two grills and four smokers. The morning of the event, guests are guided down the path to the Shantytown campgrounds by following their noses and the plumes of sweet smoke billowing from beneath the tree-line canopy. The whole barnyard makes the menu as the Shanty-kitchen turns out 120 pounds of flame-kissed chicken, beef, pork and sides. Day-of-game food service has been boiled down to a science, with meals being served every three to four hours in coordination with the gaming schedule. A team of barbecue aficionados will also rotate in and out of the kitchen all day giving staff members time to enjoy the festivities between meal prep and service.
Nothing adds more exuberance to a party than a live band. For the past three years Shantytown’s exclusive music venue, Couple Two Trees, has featured three different live bands performing on a small raised stage built between a couple of trees. Acts have ranged from old-time bluegrass bands such as The Two Man Gentlemen Band and Boston’s Creek River String Band to the sax and sousaphone-driven Primate Fiasco from Western Massachusetts. The dust starts flying just after sundown, providing enough foot-stomping fuel to keep the party going all night long.
Shantytown lights up after dark, illuminating the grounds and stretching the experience late into the night. Miles of light strands line the campsite roadways while tiki torches carve out a perimeter among the trees. Glow sticks on the ground help the weary and bleary find their way to their tents. In front of the stage, strobes and laser lights cut through the crowds lining up in front of the band.
Late Night Fire Pit
For those who still have the energy to stay awake or are just looking for a break in the action, the fire pit, a constant presence throughout Shantytown, becomes an intimate and rewarding late-night venue. The pit ducks out of sight, depressing nearly five feet into the ground, providing more than enough leg room for 20 or more people at any given time. It serves as a late night oasis — a quiet ethereal arena to kick back and catch one’s breath — after taking part in a day-long flurry of fun and entertainment.
Feel inspired? A fest like Shantytown demands a lot of toil but pays off with a lot of great memories. Whatever fest you organize, let YBN be your beer guide.
Paul Busa heads up Team Food. While he spends most of Shantytown behind the grills, you can catch his infamous plodding dance technique once the sun goes down. He's also known for his line of signature BBQ sauces and work in news radio.
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/The+Ultimate+Private+Brewhaha/1527321/178180/article.html.
F. X. Matt 125 Years Of Faily Brewing
F.X. Matt Brewing, opened by Francis Xavier (F.X.) Matt I in Utica, N. Y., in 1888, has surmounted significant obstacles during its 125-year history.
The paralysis of Prohibition, instituted in 1919, forced the production of soft drinks and malt tonic to remain afloat. A catastrophic fire in 2008, ignited by a welder’s spark, destroyed two warehouse floors and suspended packaging operations. The family-owned brewery, currently operated by the third and fourth generations of the Matt family, has persevered and thrived, however, with a “commitment to distinctive and drinkable beers,” said Fred Matt, Chairman and CEO.
This commitment, exhibited with a catalog of Saranac-branded beers and a contract-brewed clientele, has propelled F. X. Matt to become the eighth-largest craft brewery in the U.S., according to Brewers Association, producing 350,000 barrels per year.
There are more than 125 years of beer at F.X. Matt, however; there are 125 years of family-brewed beer.
After apprenticing at Baden, Germany’s Duke of Baden Brewery, Matt I immigrated to Utica in 1878. He started beer-making at Charles Bierbauer Brewery and, in 1888, converted the faltering brewery to West End Brewing Co. West End, initially a 12-employee brew-ery with an annual production of 4,000 barrels, survived Prohibition with Utica Club, a line of soft drinks and other nonalcoholic products. Utica Club was eventually transformed into a pale-colored lager, the first beer sold following Prohibition’s repeal in 1933, whose success continued for decades, popularized by an advertising campaign featuring a duo of anthropomorphic beer steins, Schultz and Dooley.
As the presidency transitioned to Walter Matt, Matt I’s son, in 1951, the brewery shadowed uniform-producing trends, attempting to compete with Anheuser- Busch, Coors Brewing and other large-scale beer-makers. The industry continued to consolidate, however, and by 1982,
F. X. Matt was one of only three regional breweries in New York. F.X. Matt II, Walter’s son, became president in 1980. He decided to initiate a shift toward innovation to resuscitate the struggling business.
“We couldn’t advertise more than Anheuser-Busch and other large companies, so we had to start focusing on making better beer,” said Nick Matt, the current president.
F. X. Matt launched Saranac in 1985, following an inspirational visit to Germany by Matt II.
“The beers were balanced and flavorful, and my brother knew we could make bee as good as that,” Nick said.
A stark contrast to Utica Club and Matt’s Premium Light Beer, Saranac was an opportunity for distinction within a monochromatic universe of yellow-hued adjunct lagers. It also emphasized a return to tradition at F. X. Matt.
“Before Prohibition, we were creating high-end beers like porters and IPAs,” Fred said. “We launched the first beer, Amber Lager, as a return to the past, as it was based on the type of beers my great-grandfather enjoyed in Germany.”
After snagging a gold medal for Saranac Amber Lager, now Saranac Adirondack Lager, at the Great American Beer Festival in 1991, F. X. Matt decided to focus primarily on building Saranac, then only a struggling 150,000- case brand. It is now the brewery’s apex, with 32 beers released in 2012.
“It was a bold decision, since it was only one percent of our sales, but it was the right one,” Fred said. “It’s been the savior of the company.” Since 1986, F.X. Matt has also produced beer, or contract-brewed, for other companies.
Its clientele, past and present, is an allstar roster of regional juggernauts, including New Amsterdam Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Samuel Adams, William S.
Newman Brewing, Magic Hat Brewing and Pete’s Brewing. Though contracting remains 35 percent of F.X. Matt’s 350,000-barrel business, “We’re not looking to get any new companies,” Nick said.
“We’ve been beer drinkers our whole lives, and Saranac is the type of beer we like to drink,” Fred added. “Our main commitment is to keep growing Saranac.”
Celebrating (IP)A Legacy
A remnant of F.X. Matt’s past was resurrected to create something new. Saranac Legacy IPA (6.5% ABV), released in June, is a hop-stuffed celebration of 125 years of aliveness. The beer was inspired by the founder’s original IPA recipe from 1914, but “the hops were scaled up since it wasn’t like today’s definition of an IPA,” Fred said. The “scaling up” involved dry-hopping with eight varieties: Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Galaxy, Goldings and Simcoe.
“It’s remarkable to look into the archive of recipes and find styles like an IPA and pale ale,” Fred said. “We know our forefathers were producing craft beers.”
Brewmaster Jim Kuhr described Saranac Legacy IPA as a “balanced hop-head’s beer with light maltiness and dryness helping to carry the bite. I don’t want to get shot by saying balanced or bitter, but it’s honestly a beer that can appeal to both markets,” Kuhr said.
The brewery included 16-ounce cans of Saranac Legacy IPA as a complimentary gift within its Brewer’s Dozen package, a limited assemblage also containing 12 assorted Saranac bottles.
Hi Again, High Peaks
The first post-relaunch release was Saranac Tramonay Vineyard Saison (7.4%), a Belgian-style saison brewed with Cornell University-grown Traminette grapes, in June.
“The initial struggle was volume, creating batch after batch without the turnover we needed,” Kuhr said. “We rethought the series, though, and it’s about big flavor profiles, not volume.”
High Peaks initially featured five beers: Saranac Imperial IPA (8.5%), Saranac Imperial Stout (9.0%), Saranac Chocolate Orange Porter (8.5%), Saranac Lemon Ginger Saison (8.5%) and Saranac Wet Hop IPA (7.0%). Saranac Imperial IPA will remain the series’ core, but others “may rotate in and out, depending on demand,” Kuhr said.
The first post-relaunch release was in June with Saranac Tramonay Vineyard Saison (7.4%), a Belgian-style saison brewed with Cornell University-grown Traminette grapes. The brewery followed with Saranac Farm to Tap - Fresh Hop IPA, using just-harvested hops — Cascade, Centennial and two heirloom varieties — plucked at Bridgewater, N.Y.’s, Wrobel Farms on August 25.
Pale Is The New Gold
Saranac’s Pale Ale and Adirondack Lager were awarded gold medals at the United States Open Beer Championship in July.
The former beer’s victory was attributed to a new Hop Infusion Process, or H.I.P., created to “see if we could get more out of our dry-hopping,” Kuhr said. The system, “an adaptation of preexisting equipment,” creates a slurry of hop particles and “evenly disperses them into the beer during aging,” so the entire beer is exposed.
“Everyone has their own technique on dry-hopping, but because of some of the unique equipment, we studied to see how we could deliver more hop flavor during the process,” Kuhr said. “This gives really good consistency in the tank and helps us deliver to our customers what we taste at the brewery.”
Saranac Pale Ale debuted in 1994.
Pilots Brew Now, Too A two-barrel pilot brewhouse was recently installed to “test interesting ingredients on a smaller scale,” Kuhr said. The first pilot-brewed release was Saranac Single Hop Belma Ale (6.5%), created for American Craft Beer Week in May.
The brewhouse was also used for a gosestyle collaboration with Chris Woodward, a homebrewer from Oswego, N.Y., in August.
Woodward’s gose was awarded Best of Show at the New York State Fair Homebrew Competition, and the collaboration will be entered into the ProAm Competition at the Great American Beer Festival in October.
For The Future
The aforementioned fire was temporarily crippling, but enabled F.X. Matt to implement a series of environmental-friendly upgrades, “because we believe it’s the right thing to do for our community,” Fred said.
The largest upgrade, unveiled in 2012, birthed an anaerobic digester facility. The 400-kilowatt system, comprising five 32-foot tanks, injects micro-sized bacteria into the brewery’s wastewater to consume spent grain and yeast before discharging into the city’s sewer system. This process also creates biogas, a combination of methane, carbon dioxide and other contaminant gases, which is burned to create electricity. The biogas generates approximately 40 percent of the brewery’s electricity, saving $350,000 per year.
“It’s been a double win,” Nick said. “It’s difficult and expensive to be green-friendly with our older buildings, but it’s the right thing to do for the future. This is good for the environment and saves us money, too.”
F. X. Matt recycled 98.4 percent of its solid waste in 2012.