Erie Canal Brewing Co.

Sam Lanzafame planned a garden to take care of in retirement; just a little plot for produce and some grapes for the wine he loves to make. He ended up growing 1,200 bines of hops, 40 acres of barley and a brewery.


Proudly planted in what was once the hop capital of the country, Erie Canal Brewing Co. celebrates the historic roots of Madison County by producing the one of the state’s first in-house beers.

All of Muleskinner Pale Ale’s ingredients come from co-founder Sam’s Botte Piena (Italian for “full barrel”) Farm. It’s that ultra-local control that gives the beer brewed by David Cannizzaro a very unique profile.

A former chef and seasoned brewer, David strives for one simple goal: beer that inspires someone to ask for that second pint.

We offer brewery tours and tasting parties by appointment. Hours:

Mon – Tue: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Thu: 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Fri: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Sat: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

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Sam: It was my dream to have this slope here, as a vineyard and I called Cornell University and asked for some advice. I told them I wanted to grow a red grape for a good table wine for family and friends. They kind of chuckled because I wanted Sanjovaysay grape to produce a Chianti. They said, “That’s impossible in Madison County, why don’t you grow hops”?

Cornell came and they acted as mentors and did an excellent job on educating me on how to grow hops. The two acre vineyard became 1,200 vines of hops. The weather conditions are idealic for growing hops in this area. The best latitude is the 48th latitude, we’re at about 44.5, here on this farm.

The Erie Canal Brewing Company is the only craft brewery in New York that grows it’s own ingredients. We have our hop yard here and there’s 1,200 vines. This is enough for 600 barrels of beer. We also have a barley field that’s 40 acres of barley and it’s two row pinnacle barley. Three years ago, that entire field, 120 acres was barley and it was the largest barley field East of the Mississippi River. There’s enough there for a year. What we’ll do next year is we’ll take that 40 acres and we’ll rotate it around the field.

The Erie Canal Brewing Company started with Jason Tettford at the President and Founder of the company. He was a home brewer, like myself. He found Sam was growing some hops and took some hops from Sam and brewed a batch of beer with it and they really enjoyed it. They though, we should make this and sell it. Just like every other start up. You start with a good product and work from there, that was two years ago, they started on a one barrel system. Hired me to come on board to make the beer for them and the rest is future history.

I’m looking for the final product when I’m coming into the brewery. I’m looking for a good balance with all the flavors. All the ingredients that we’re getting, what is this ingredient, at this time? What is it giving? Is it giving malt? Is it giving body? Is it giving a bitterness or a flavor from the hops? I know what my final product is going to be. I want someone to have a second glass of my beer.

Right now, we have the Muleskinner Pale Ale. That’s the house, the flagship beer. It’s 100% Madison County grown barley and hops for that beer. Our second beer we have is an amber ale that we brewed with a Clear Path for Veterans Organization. Came up with the recipe in conjunction with them and we’re donating a percentage of our sales to them. It’s a milder, amber ale. A little bit on the dark side. A little less hoppy than some. Then we’ve got the Lock Tender IPA.

We’re on the Erie Canal. Our theme seems to be toward the laborers of the Canal. The men who drove the barges or the Muleskinners, the Lock Tender, helping raise and lower the barges and the locks. The amber is the amber waves of grain and that was the name that the veterans came up with for the beer.