Kuhr, Saranac Brewmaster
What is your brewing background (training, distinctions/honors)?
How and why did you get into brewing?
I began in the brewing industry while in college in 1984. I
started as a quality assurance technician with G. Heileman Brewing
Co. in Frankenmuth, MI. After learning the QA functions throughout
the brewery, I moved into brewing supervision. The brewery closed
in 1990. I began work here at the Matt Brewing Co. in 1991 as
Associate Brewmaster and now manage the Brewing Department as
well as handle product development. I didn't choose brewing
as a career so much as it choose me, so to speak. After the
closing of the brewery in Frankenmuth, I was set to go back
to college. When the opportunity came to come to the Matt Brewery,
I realized how much I missed the industry and now feel very
fortunate to work where I have so much influence in the day
to day and long term direction of the company.
What might distinguish Saranac's brewing style/philosophy from
We take a very practical view of the industry and design our
products to not only fit within a beer style's guidelines, but
more importantly, to be a well balanced drinkable product that
consumers will want to come back to. We have brewed over 18
different Saranac products in the last 6 years and have learned
many lessons regarding consumer's tastes. Don't forget we have
a brewing tradition which dates back to 1888 and have brewed
over 80 recipes in the last 10 years for ourselves or our contract
brewers which have ranged from the lightest light beers to some
of the strongest stouts and barley wines produced on our scale.
We have a terrific workforce here who pride themselves in the
quality of our products and the flexibility we've designed into
our equipment to give us the ability to produce this range of
What do you think the most significant trend will be in the
coming years in microbrewing, particularly in light of the fact
that there are now roughly 1,200 micros in the US (vs. less
than 30 in the late 80s)?
The dramatic growth in the number of micros from the late 80's
through the 90's shows that a there is a small, but significant
percentage American beer consumers who are not satisfied drinking
what are known as American Lagers. As with any growth industry,
there was a steep increase in the number of brewers who wanted
to supply this segment of the market. People had hopes that
this growth would continue much longer than it did. Now, with
a much flatter growth curve, and much more discriminating consumers,
some of those breweries who did not put together the whole package
of quality, product selection, distribution and good business
practices are feeling the pinch and many have closed. Here at
the Matt Brewing Co., we've been dealing with the ups and downs
of the industry for over 110 years and feel we'll be around
to give our customers the products they want for many years
How do you recommend pairing your beers with food?
As for food, we like to link up our brews as follows: Saranac
Black & Tan with steaks, stews and hearty soups. Saranac Pale
Ale with lamb, beef, veal and game. Saranac Pilsner with tuna,
shrimp and other seafood. Saranac Amber with pasta with marinara
sauce, chicken and Tex-Mex.
by Will Blunt.
Amber - Gold Medal Winner, 1991 Great American
Beer Festival (American Premium Lager Category).
Ale - Best Pale Ale and Beer of the Show, 1995 United
States Beer Festival.
- Silver Medal Winner, 1995 Great American Beer Festival
(American Wheat Category).
is brewed in upstate New York in the foothills of the Adirondack
Mountains. Saranac label beers were first brewed in 1989.
However, the Matt Brewery that makes Saranac is the second
oldest family-owned brewery in the United States, established
in 1888. Their beers are widely available throughout the Eastern
seaboard. Contact: The Matt Brewery, 811 Edward Street
Utica, NY 13502 (315) 732-3181.