Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today welcomed 14 newly-licensed local farm breweries that have opened as a result of legislation signed by the Governor that took effect in January 2013. The “Farm Brewery” license allows craft brewers that use products grown in New York State to operate in a similar fashion to the state’s farm wineries, leading to increased demand for locally grown farm products as well as expanded economic development and tourism.
Additionally, the Governor announced nearly a 100 percent increase in microbreweries across the state over the past two-plus years. In the first quarter of 2011, there were 51 licensed microbreweries across New York State; today, there are 93.
With the opening of 14 farm breweries since January and a nearly 100 percent increase in our microbreweries, it is clear that New York’s craft beer industry is booming – and this is just the beginning,” Governor Cuomo said. “The State is committed to promoting New York’s exceptional food and beverage producers through our Taste NY initiative and investments in research and development to further grow the industry. Not only do these efforts benefit New York’s craft breweries, but they also help our agricultural sector to flourish. We want New Yorkers and visitors alike to ‘buy local’ and keep coming back for more.”
In July 2012, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to support and strengthen New York’s craft breweries. Under the new law, in order to receive a Farm Brewery license in New York State, the beer must be made primarily from locally grown farm products. Until the end of 2018, at least 20% of the hops and 20% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in New York State. From January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2023, no less than 60% of the hops and 60% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in New York State. After January 1, 2024, no less than 90% of the hops and 90% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in New York State. The beer manufactured under these guidelines would be designated as “New York State labeled beer.” The legislation was modeled after the 1976 “Farm Winery Act,” which spurred the growth of wine production in this state, including the creation of 261 farm wineries and tripling the number of wineries.
Under the farm brewery license, brewers do not need an additional permit to serve beer by the glass, which has the highest return for brewers in terms of sales. Farm brewers can also make cider and serve that cider by the glass. They are allowed to have five branch offices, where they can sell their products and other New York State labeled beer, wine, and liquor, in addition to having tasting rooms, retail shops and restaurants
There are currently 14 licensed farm breweries in New York State, which use 20 percent of local products in their blends, with more than a dozen more applications currently in the pipeline. These include:
- Good Nature Brewing (Hamilton)
- The Beer Diviner (Stephentown)
- Rooster Fish Brewing (Watkins Glen)
- Climbing Bines Hop Farm (Penn Yan)
- Hopshire Farm and Brewery (Freeville)
- Fairport Brewing Company (Fairport)
- Brown’s Brewing Co. (Troy)
- Abandon Brewing Company (Penn Yan)
- Hamburg Brewing Company (Hamburg)
- Erie Canal Brewing Company (Canastota)
- Henneberg Brewing Company (Cazenovia)
- Long Ireland Beer Company (Riverhead)
- Honey Hollow Brewery (Earlton)
The farm brewery legislation is also helping to grow the state’s agricultural sector. This year’s hops acreage is currently at about 140, which is double the amount of last year’s number of acres. Growers have already invested more than $2 million in hops production over the last two years. When investments in tractors, buildings, harvesters and malt houses are factored in, this investment is much higher.
The current state budget includes $40,000 for the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva to establish an acre of disease-free certified hop varieties that are of particular interest to the New York hop industry. The hop varieties were certified as part of the USDA National Clean Plant Network Program. Research is being conducted at the Station to determine how well the hop varieties perform and what practices need to be implemented to control major diseases and pests that can threaten hop production in New York. The planting will provide opportunities for faculty and hop growers to interact in research that will be essential for the growth and prosperity of the industry.
In addition, more than $117,000 in Consolidated Funding Application dollars is helping New York Craft Malt in Batavia purchase equipment and machinery. New York Craft Malt will use locally-grown, malt grade barley at the facility.
Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, said, “New York Farm Bureau has always been a strong supporter of increasing opportunities for our farmer members. The opportunity created by the new farm category of licenses – either winery, distilleries, cideries or breweries – has created new possibilities for growth. I’ve seen firsthand the excitement of our farmers when their kids return to the farm and embrace the beverage sector, by planting relatively newer crops like hops, malting barley varieties, and of course, new varieties of grapes. We’re pleased to have worked with Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to create these new opportunities and look forward to tasting more New York products.”
Paul Leone, executive director of New York State Brewers Association, said, “With more hops and malted barley being planted every year, more and more breweries will have the opportunity to qualify for a farm brewery license and take advantage of this legislation signed by Governor Cuomo. The growth of our industry is huge – at the rate we’re going, we could possibly see over 200 breweries across New York State by the end of 2014. I thank the Governor and the state’s lawmakers for their continued support of our industry.”
Garry Sperrick, owner of Abandon Brewing Co. in Penn Yan, said, “We received our Farm Brewery license at the end of July and just opened our tap room on September 28. By late afternoon our parking lot was full. We’re already developing a loyal grassroots following. We’ve also been active in sampling under the ‘Taste NY’ initiative, which has helped our business get some great exposure outside of Penn Yan. In addition to hops, our farm grows grapes and apples, which we plan to convert into cider and beer flavors. The farm brewery license is great for our business and is helping local agriculture expand as well.”
Jonathan Post, owner of The Beer Diviner in Stephentown, said, “Our tap room has been open in Stephentown since early summer. I’ve been a one man operation since last year and thanks to the Farm Brewery license I plan to hire an additional worker to help me with bottling and distribution. The farm brewery license also helps me diversify my brews with home grown New York State products, which in turn tell their own story in every glass. My coffee oatmeal stout has won a bronze medal for best beer in the Hudson Valley and we have a number of other beers to choose from. I appreciate the state’s support for my business.”
Greg Stacy, vice president of sales and marketing for Brown’s Brewing Co. in Troy and Hoosick Falls, said, “Brown’s has been brewing its own hops and working with other hops farmers for a number of years now. The Farm Brewery License helps us be a visible participant in the ‘buy local’ movement. We are pleased to partner with the state on this initiative, which is still in its infancy. We’re a local New York company and we’re excited about the great promise that this industry has to offer.”
The Governor created an online “one stop shop” to provide New York’s wine, beer and spirits producers with a single point of government contact for assistance regarding regulations, licensing, state incentives and any other questions facing the industry.