New York governor: Brewery will bounce back

Gitana Mirochnik

The F.X. Matt Brewing Co., devastated by a fire last week, is a great resource for the city and has supported the community in many ways, Gov. David Paterson said Thursday at the brewery.

The governor was in Utica to express his support after last Thursday’s fire. He discussed the Matt family’s plans to rebuild the damaged canning facility and added that the state will support the brewery in any way possible.

“The silver lining around the dark cloud of that day is that no one was hurt,” Paterson said. “We think that within a matter of months, we can restore the bottling and canning operations.”

Firefighters estimated that temperatures during the fire reached between 1,500 and 2,000 degrees, said Nick Matt, president of the brewery. Despite that, the second floor can most likely be reworked, he said.

The brewery sustained about $10 million in fire damage when the building that houses canning operations was destroyed. It represented close to one-fifth of the brewery’s business.

A welding project sparked the fire on the second floor, fire officials have said.

The brewery sees the fire as an opportunity to rebuild, Matt said.

In the meantime, the brewery will outsource its canning operation. The Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau gave the brewery a 60-day window to do what it needs to get the beer bottled.

“As we have so many times in New York, we have obstacles, we rebuild. We have barriers, and we work through them,” Paterson said. “It survived the Great Depression, it survived the recessions of the ’60s and ’80s … and it will survive the fire.”

The governor’s visit is yet another example of the outreach the brewery has had from the community, Matt said.

In addition to touring the brewery, Paterson visited the Utica Fire Department firehouse on Bleecker Street to thank the firefighters.

“He personally called a number of times during the fire offering his help, and he backed up his words with that visit,” Chief Russell Brooks said. “I think it really touched the members of the different fire departments that were there, the fact that he took time to rub elbows with the rank-and-file.”