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Production Restarts At NY Brewery After Fire

Bottling resumed Monday at F.X. Matt Brewing Co., an upstate New York brewery damaged by a serious fire a month ago.

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) -- Bottling resumed Monday at an upstate New York brewery damaged by a serious fire a month ago.

F.X. Matt Brewing Co. President Nicholas Matt said there were some machinery problems -- only one of two packing machines was working.

"Some of the equipment is not running at top efficiency, but we are running," Matt said.

Normally, workers would use spare parts to repair machinery, but those spare parts were lost in the fire, and as a result workers have had to improvise, Matt said.

The goal was to run 1,500 cases every hour, but officials expected to process only between 1,000 and 1,100 cases an hour. The brewery, which opened in 1888, is bottling its 12-pack pale ale, which is the brewery's best seller, Matt said.

The blaze started accidentally on May 29 when two employees working on a welding project inadvertently melted a plastic conveyor belt. The fire caused $10 million in damages to the company's bottling operations -- although it did not affect Matt's brewing facility. The company resuming brewing beer just five days after the fire, sending its suds to High Falls Brewing Co. in Rochester to be bottled and canned.

Matt said the weeks of managing inventories to keep beer on store shelves came at a time that normally means big business.

"Make no mistake we missed probably the best month of the year," Matt said. "However long it took was too long."

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