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Utica Beer: local man tells story of city's brewing history

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) --  A book by a West Winfield man exploring the history of the city's brewing was released Tuesday.  But, when flipping through the pages of 'Utica Beer,' there's really more than one story.

The one you'll read about begins in 1804, but the back story started when author Daniel Shumway was 18 when he started collecting beer cans.

"I wanted a place to put excess pennies so I collected a beer can for each different one and filled them with pennies. Pretty soon the beer cans I had outnumbered the pennies I had," said Shumway.

Over the next forty years, Shumway collected over 30,000 cans from around the world. A collection he mostly abandoned to make room for an entire floor in his home dedicated to tokens of beer.

"I like the designs on the labels on the bottles and the tab knobs are beautiful, the canoes they have nowawdays. And being a collector I've always wanted to get one of everything which drives my wife nuts, but what are you going to do? Got to collect something," said Shumway.

His collection turned into curiosity, which turned into 20 years of research.

"I started researching West End first and then I found out there was like 40 other breweries in Utica since 1800 so I decided to write a book on it," said Shumway.

FX Matt Brewery was the first in the country to commence brewing after prohibition ended in 1933. If they hadn't survived, the book may have turned out very differently.

"My great Uncle Frank was down in Washington lobbying, lobbying, lobbying and was there when prohibition was repealed and got the number one license," said Fred Matt, president of FX Matt Brewery.

They've continue to persevere. Today- FX Matt Brewery and Nail Creek are the only breweries left in Utica. The book ends in 2014, but it's a story that will surely continue.

"It's a good story of the brewing industry and the brewing industry in Utica. Utica is a great place, the Mohawk Valley is a great place and I think at times people don't see how great it is and I think if people look at how great it was and celebrated how great it was we'd be ahead of where we are today," said Matt.

Shumway plans on releasing another book in the fall that dives into the history of all breweries within a 50 mile radius of Utica.

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