Brew Central’s Syracuse Hosts Debut Craft New York Beer Fest

(brewcentralny.com)

Some 400 craft beer fans packed Syracuse’s Landmark Theatre Nov. 16 in a New York-exclusive event that featured 24 breweries – including five Brew Central partners – serving up some 48 samples.

Good Nature Brewmaster Matt Whalen chats with a fan.
Good Nature Brewmaster Matt Whalen chats with Ken Hebb, owner of St. Lawrence Brewing Co. in Canton, N.Y.

The New York State Brewers Association’s Craft New York Beer Fest hoped to create a tasty and educational experience for partakers.

“That’s our thing: All the brewers are here. You can meet them and talk to them,” brewers association Executive Director Paul Leone said.

The debut festival of the 10-year-old New York brewers collective keyed in on that interaction, said Tim Butler, brewmaster at Brew Central’s Empire Brewing Co.

“Our movement is just starting to gain steam here,” Butler said, comparing the New York’s beer scene to well-established brew communities in California, Oregon and Colorado. “We have to educate the consumer that our beers are just as good if not better than other parts of the country.

“We’re not competitors here. When we join forces like this, we’re one voice,” he said.

Breweries – a small sampling of the New York State Brewers Association’s 140-plus members – represented just about every part of the state, including Central New York. Likewise, the Craft New York Beer Fest drew brew fans from places near and far.

Ryan and Darcy Hampel of Ottawa, Ontario, were extremely pleased with the variety of beer – a majority of which they’d never tried – and the opportunity to talk brew with the men and women who make it.

“The U.S. has the reputation of being the place for craft beer,” Ryan Hampel said. “It’s very cool to see what the trends are down here.”

Brew Central partners Brewery Ommegang, Empire, F.X. Matt/Saranac, Good Nature and Middle Ages brewing companies proudly poured their popular samples. Syracuse craft brew pub Kitty Hoynes also served up food samples along with a number of other local vendors.

The New York State Brewers Association will use the Syracuse fest as a catalyst for future events hosted all across the state, Leone said. The association targeted Syracuse for the inaugural New York brew celebration because of the excellent beer culture here.

“We get great beer here – a lot of people are surprised,” Butler said. “We’re just as well-versed as any other big beer city.”

The Craft New York Beer Fest appropriately capped off the sixth annual Syracuse Beer Week, one of the longest running such events in the country.