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The Best British Beers at Middle Ages Brewery

The Best British Beers at Middle Ages Brewery

When I think of a great local beer company, one brewery that comes to mind immediately is Syracuse’s own Middle Ages Brewery.

Isaac Rubenstein, the son of the owners and full-time employee, gave me a tour and told me all about the history of the brewery and how his parents set out to bring craft brewing to Central New York.

“My parents’ vision was always to become the hometown brewery. They didn’t want to be distributing beer all across the country or halfway across the country […] That’s what their goal was […] to get their beer in a ton of different places and support themselves […] not to become super wealthy,” he said.

Marc and Mary Rubenstein, Isaac’s parents, wanted to start a business together. Around that time in the ‘80s, they both were interested in home brewing. After they traveled out west where craft beer was starting to grow, they decided to try to be a part of that growth on the east coast. They sold their first beer in 1995.

The business really started to become viable around 2001 when their distribution started to pick up. Between 2005 and 2006, the business was the only production sized local brewery in Syracuse.

Today, it produces 6,000 barrels, or 12,000 kegs, of beer, but the Middle Ages Brewing Company is still considered a microbrewery. In the next five to six to years, the Rubensteins hope to produce enough beer to be classified as a regional brewery, which the state defines as a brewery producing 15,000 barrels.

In a given year, the brewery produces about 25 beers. Many are seasonal and one-offs, many of which are only sold on site to fill growlers. Most of those beers are also large format, specialty beers, like the brewery’s The Wailing Wench, which has traveled as far as Maryland. But, the brewery really concentrates on local distribution.

The name “Middle Ages” comes from the fact that all of the beers are brewed using a British brewing system with all British ingredients.

Marc Rubenstein actually interned at Shipyard Brewing Company where he learned about the founder Peter Austin’s brew system, an open brewing system, which Middle Ages uses for all of its beers.

Suitable for a company using a Brit’s brewing system, the Rubensteins only brew ales with British ingredients: British malt, British yeast, basically British everything except for American hops for IPAs.

cat, guard, Dory, beer, middle age brewery

Dory, the younger of the brewery’s two grain guarding cats.

Whatever the Rubensteins are doing for their small business, it’s working because they have regular customers who come to fill growlers. They also have an enthusiastic staff of 10, or 12, counting the brewery’s two cats, Tuxedo and Dory, who guard the grains from mice. The Rubensteins have even licensed their name to a location in the Syracuse Hancock International Airport so even when locals leave or return to Central New York, their hometown beer is never far.

About The Author

Jake Cappuccino

Originally from Western New York, I spent the last few years as a student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. I am currently a master's student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications.

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