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“We Grow Beer” How Empire Brewing Co. Crafts Adult Experiences

“We Grow Beer” How Empire Brewing Co. Crafts Adult Experiences

The Finger Lakes region of Central New York is known for its natural beauty, rich history, world-renowned wine – and amazing beer.  Thanks to an Armory Square favorite, the way is being paved for Central New York to stand as a mecca for high quality craft beer.

Established in 1994, Empire Brewing Co. is an award-winning brewpub that quickly gained popularity with Central New York locals by creating food and beer that is authentic to the region and honest in approach. From using locally sourced ingredients, to maintaining the pre-existing architecture of its downtown location, to showcasing local musicians, Empire Brewing Co. embodies the history and spirit of the Central New York community.

Empire Main Photo

Empire Brewing Co.’s signature craft beer. (Image from Google under Creative Commons License)

The food is fresh, and the experiences like the Sunday Blues Brunch (which has has reached cult-status) are an essential part of the CNY good life, but Empire Brewing Co. is all about the beer

For 20 years, Empire has produced some of the best craft beer you can find. This statement is not an opinion, but a fact as evidenced by its 10 Great American Beer Festival awards, 3 World Beer Cup medals, and receiving the designation of a Top American Brewpub by the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.

With the growing popularity of its unique brews, Empire partnered with a Brooklyn based brewery in 2010 allowing the CNY company to double its production and expand its brand by distributing kegs of Empire beer throughout the New York City area. The success of this partnership spurred founder and President, David Katleski, to open a larger brewing facility that would allow Empire to bottle its own beer and distribute on a national and international level.

“Born in Syracuse, raised in Brooklyn, growing in Cazenovia, N.Y.”

The Empire Farmstead Brewery, slated to open in the spring of 2015, will be the realization of Katleski’s dream. Located on a 22-acre parcel on Route 13 in Cazenovia, NY, the 28,000 square foot building will include a European-style brew hall, restaurant, tasting room and gift shop. The farm will grow ingredients used in the brewing process. When it opens, Empire Farmstead Brewery will immediately become one of the top five largest breweries in New York State and create an estimated 70 new jobs, while educating the public on the quality, flavor and brewing techniques of craft beer.

The project aims to not only attract beer enthusiasts, but to also turn more people into beer lovers by providing them with an understanding and appreciation for what goes into each distinct brew. Initial plans are for Empire to bottle six beers at the plant, with Empire’s Amber Ale serving as its signature and foundation.

Tim Butler, Director of Brewing Operations for Empire, explains that the Empire Amber Ale is “one of those beers that can be looked at as an introductory beer. If you’re not into craft beer, this might get you there.”

Aside from the initial six beers to be bottled, the Empire Farmstead Brewery will also present an opportunity to experiment with different onsite and locally grown ingredients, resulting in brews that are unique to Central New York.

After receiving a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in August 2014, Empire is closer than ever to making Katleski’s vision a reality. Not only will Empire Farmstead Brewery increase Empire’s national and global reach, but it will also create job growth within Central New York and help spearhead the growth of the local craft beer industry.

Image from Google under Creative Commons License

Empire Brewing Co.’s kegs set for distribution. (Image from Google under Creative Commons License)

“Born in Syracuse, raised in Brooklyn, growing in Cazenovia, N.Y.” Empire Brewing Co.’s motto suggests the company’s long-term commitment to grow in Central New York. With the Empire Farmstead Brewery, not only is Empire growing, but it is also offering the community of Central New York the opportunity to grow as well. If you can’t wait until the spring 2015 opening to sample one (or many) of Empire’s distinct beers, visit its birthplace in Armory Square to experience what homegrown CNY beer is all about!

About The Author

Lisa Dodd

MS in New Media Management


This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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