Consider this a snapshot of Galaxy Brewing Company.
On a Thursday afternoon, in a dim and sophisticated cavernous space, with a certain dozen craft beers on tap, a certain bonus cask conditioned ale on limited offer, and a certain menu poised for a seasonal revamp.
Here, one of the few constants is the proposition that something new is always already in the works.
Take the menu, which changes seasonally under the skilled eye of chef de cuisine Brian Lovesky, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef. Or the beer lineup, where a wintery porter may be subbed for a Belgian-style wheat beer perfect for summer sipping.
On this Thursday, co-owners Seth Weisel and father Mike Weisel are particularly excited about two new ventures. One, the 18-table outdoor seating area they are planning to unveil next week on the pedestrian mall area outside the MetroCenter.
Two, a collaborative brew with The North Brewery in Endicott, Water Street Brewing in Binghamton, Wagner Vineyards in Lodi and Rooster Fish Brewing in Watkins Glen. The beer, aged in red wine barrels and made using a wild yeast, is out sometime in early June — and will be around as long as it lasts, perhaps a month, the Weisels said.
Then, on to the next new thing.
“It’s that constant challenge, said Mike, 67, of Endwell. “We want to offer something a little different, a little unique. The next time you come in, how can I surprise you?”
Seeds of change
Galaxy is the heady result of a life change for both Mike and son Seth, 37, who lives on Binghamton’s West Side. Mike spent 40 years working in health care, 20 of them at Lourdes Hospital.
But he also spent those years as a home brewer. Both he and his wife, Susan (whose name inspired the brewery’s popular St. Stusan Ale) had brewers in the family, and they passed the passion down to Seth, who began home brewing as a hobby in his early adult years.
Seth became a biology teacher, but soon realized he wanted to pursue his passion for brewing. He enrolled in the Master Brewers Program at University of California Davis, the received a diploma from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London.
He got a job at Rooster Fish, then decided, “I wanted to take good craft beer to Binghamton,” he says.
Together, dad and son brought Galaxy to fruition, securing the property in October 2010 and, after some financing setbacks, opening in August 2013. They joined the previously established Water Street Brewing Co. downtown and helped bolster a growing culinary scene in the area.
“When we purchased the property, no one was walking on Court Street,” Mike says. “It really was kind of a dead area.”
Now, he says an influx of students, residents and businesses have helped usher in a “renaissance of Court Street” — yet another evolution in Galaxy’s trajectory.
Mike and Seth realized early on they wanted their brewery to be a gastropub, too.
“We knew we were brewing great beer, but we wanted great food to go along with it,” Mike says.
Then, as Galaxy was under construction, Seth heard from a fellow Maine-Endwell grad — one who just so happened to be trained under the Culinary Institute of America.
Lovesky came on board and has helped foster the pub’s commitment to local ingredients and local collaborations.
Take the spent grain from the brewing process. A farm just across the border in Pennsylvania feeds it to its pigs and cows. All of Galaxy’s pork and much of its beef comes from the animals who ate that grain, Mike says.
Some of the grain has another destination: just down Court Street to Chroma Cafe and Bakery, where bakers use it — and some of Galaxy’s beer — to create a hearty, moist loaf called Galaxy brew bread. In turn, Galaxy uses that bread for its Chroma Galaxy Grilled Cheese ($10).
With so many collaborations — be it farm, bakery or fellow craft brewery — “we get lots of great ideas,” Mike says.
All of Galaxy’s food is cooked fresh, including the ever-changing dessert menu, which frequently supports another of the restaurant’s goals: to incorporate the beer into the dishes whenever possible. That means, for instance, a flourless chocolate torte with a hint of porter and a cheesecake flavored with Honey Lemon Mate Ale.