JOHNSON CITY – Kristen Lyons and Jason Gardner volunteered at Brewery Ommegang’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown celebration in 2004, which served as the couple’s first in-depth exposure to craft beer.
But on Saturday — day two of this year’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown — Lyons and Gardner will serve their own craft beer at the celebration.
And a week later, on Aug. 16, they will open Binghamton Brewing Co. in Johnson City.
“We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this, and it’s just crazy to see it happen,” said Lyons, 37. “It’s a little bit surreal at this point.”
This past week, Lyons and Gardner, who wed in 2000 and live in Endwell, worked into the early hours of the morning to get their brewery, located at 15 Avenue B, ready for its grand opening. A ticket to the opening, which is scheduled for 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, costs $15 and includes admission, beer samplings, a special tasting glass and a tour of the brewery and taproom.
The local area will have five breweries once Binghamton Brewing Co. opens its doors. Water Street Brewing Co. and Galaxy Brewing Co. — separated by not even 500 feet — are located in downtown Binghamton.
With four established breweries and a fifth one soon to open, the region has not missed the craft beer trend.
According to the Brewers Association, an American trade group of more than 1,900 brewers, there are 165 craft breweries in New York, up from 75 in 2011 and 92 in 2012. At 165, New York has the sixth most craft breweries among the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, the Brewers Association found. By comparison, California ranks first with 381 craft breweries, while Mississippi is 51st with four craft breweries.
In New York, craft breweries had an economic impact of nearly $2.2 billion in 2012 and produced almost 860,000 barrels in 2013, according to the Brewers Association.
For Lyons and Gardner, it took longer than expected for Binghamton Brewing Co. to come to fruition.
The couple originally planned to open the brewery in the third quarter of 2012 in downtown Binghamton. Binghamton Brewing Co. LLC, was formed March 30, 2012, according to the state Division of Corporations. In early 2013, they were targeting an opening in downtown Binghamton by the end of the year.
Lyons said they had some positive leads on spaces in downtown Binghamton but those talks eventually fell through.
“We decided to regroup and figure out what it is that we can do right now rather than wait for something that we weren’t sure was going to happen,” Lyons said. “We spent a long time waiting on a space.”
Lyons and Gardner in April 2013 found the Johnson City location, a renovated space that was previously an Endicott Johnson Fire Prevention station. The couple started construction inside the space on Jan. 1 and has been working to get the brewery and taproom ready ever since.