The market for craft beers that push the envelope is expanding. And breweries are looking to cash in by testing dozens of new beers, most of which you'll never see. YNN's Andrew Sorensen takes us behind the scenes of FX Matt Brewery's experimental operations to show us what we've been missing.
UTICA, N.Y. -- In the front of the old FX Matt Brewery, you'll find the same old beers on sale. But if you drink in more of the factory, you may find Rich Michaels getting paid to do the hop head's dream job.
"This is an IPA that will be going off to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver," he said, pouring out beer into a beaker. "This is a trial brew. With some of the hop trials, we've learned a few things and we've put them into this beer."
Michaels is the Product Development Manager for their new Pilot Brewery.
"We develop a lot of our new flavors here, we work with a lot of new ingredients," he said.
For six months, he's been making whatever he and his team can dream up.
"This is pretty exciting. I mean, I've been brewing commercially for 20 years. It's what I went to school for. But this is a really great opportunity. I get to come in and work with something different every week," Michaels said.
They're now showing it all off. Home brewer Carl Woodward won 'Best in Show' at the State Fair.
"It's an East German style Gose beer, which is a wheat beer. It's a bit sour, it's also brewed with salt and coriander," Michaels said.
But most of what they do doesn't cut it.
"Every day we have a taste panel at 11:30," Michaels said.
It's also given a full chemical test. If that beer is really lucky and it makes it through all that, then it makes its way to their brew house, on its way to full commercial production.
The first to make it all the way is called Tramonay, a beer brewed with Cornell grapes. Their success with these beers in festivals is leading to a new flavor for the same old brewery.
"People always ask what my favorite beer is," said Michaels. "It's always whatever's fresh and new, so there's no shortage of that at this point."
Michaels said they have plans to expand from about 30 batches per year to brewing one a week.
FX Matt says their first pilot beer should be available in September, but their other beers are getting make-overs, too, as they experiment with new flavors and brewing methods.