By Dan Guzewich Staff writer

F.X. Matt Brewery took a visible step this week in its $4 million commitment to making beer in a more environmentally friendly way with the arrival of five large tanks.

The 30-foot-high vessels from Philadelphia, Pa., are part of a project to convert brewery wastewater into electricity. Being installed at the brewer of Utica Club and Saranac beers is an anaerobic digester system that will break down waste materials into methane and other gases that can be used to produce electricity or heat. Once construction is finished, the company hopes to generate 30 to 40 percent of its electricity needs.

When up and running, the anaerobic digester will consist of an operational building, five digester tanks, a water tank and a methane tank, as well as a new green space park at the brewery, expanding the existing venue for outdoor events. The tanks are expected to be operating by fall with the entire project done in time for the 2013 Boilermaker 15-kilometer road race.

"As an upstate New York family-owned business, we believe it is important to be respectful of our natural resources, and we have made it a priority to be more energy efficient," said Nick Matt, chairman, CEO and third-generation member of the Matt family. "For more than 120 years, we’ve brewed quality, distinctive beers and, today, we continue to raise the bar by making further improvements to our brewing processes and facility."

Several homes were purchased by the company to accommodate the project.

Potential plans for the green space include the creation of a park-like area with picnic tables for Saranac concertgoers to enjoy, the addition of grass, trees, shrubbery and even hops, as well as the addition of special porous concrete for increased water absorption and more natural runoff that will help with the storm water runoff in the city.