Big new Empire Brewery in Cazenovia rolls its first beers out this week


CAZENOVIA, NY — Beer from one of New York’s biggest craft breweries should begin to appear on store shelves and on bar taps through the state starting this week.

The Empire Farmstead Brewery, a spinoff of the Empire Brewing Co. brewpub in Syracuse’s Armory Square, began brewing in the last few weeks. The first batches have been held in conditioning tanks. Bottling began last week. Deliveries are getting underway.

“We are ready to ship some beer,” said Tim Butler, Empire’s director of brewing operations.

A tasting room with a farm-to-table kitchen is expected to open later this month.

That will offer visitors the chance to see the brewery, sample (and purchase) beers and dig into burgers, pizzas, barbecue, house-made sausages and more. The bar and dining area are spacious, and there’s also an outdoor patio, paved with bricks from the old Haberle Brewing Co. on Syracuse’s North Side.

The 40,000-square-foot Empire Farmstead Brewery is located on 22 acres off Route 13, just south of the Lorenzo State Historic Site at the southern edge of the village of Cazenovia. The property includes a working farm, which will grow hops and other ingredients for both the beer and the food. It’s a farm brewery under New York Law, which means it qualifies for tax and regulatory benefits by using New York-grown ingredients.

Beers currently under production, in draft and 6-packs, are White Aphro, a Belgian-style wit or wheat made with lavender, ginger and lemon peel; Skinny Atlas Light, a German-style kolsch; Black Magic Stout; Strikes Bock, a Maibock (light-colored) lager; Slo Mo India Pale Ale and East Coast Amber.

All but the Amber will be distributed statewide, Butler said. The Amber, formerly just called Empire Amber, will be more of a Central New York regional brew, at least to start. The Strikes Bock is draft-only for now, Butler said.

Other Empire brewpub beers, like Deep Purple and Golden Dragon, may go into production in coming months, probably packaged in 4-packs, Butler said.

All the beers originated at the Empire brewpub at 120 Walton St., but had to be “scaled up” for a bigger system, Butler said. “That’s really been the challenge — learning the new system and scaling the beers up,” he said.

Breweries are typically measured by the the barrel size of their brew kettles — the amount of beer that can be made in one batch. (A barrel is 31 gallons, or two full kegs).

The current Armory Square brewpub, with a 7-barrel brewing system, has long reached its capacity of 1,200 barrels a year. It will continue to make smaller batch beer for the Armory Square location, which opened in 1994, and for the Cazenovia tasting room.

The Cazenovia brewery uses a 60-barrel system and is expected to produce 30,000 barrels in its first year, and could reach 70,000 to 100,000 annually in a few years, Empire owner David Katleski has said.

The new brewery also has larger fermentation and storage tanks, allowing it to further scale up a batch to as much as 240 barrels, Butler said.

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