Alan Smith wanted to try something different when he opened up Syracuse Suds in the early 1990s. The brewpub was the city’s first beer producer to open in three decades.
Alan brought on the late Norman Soine as brew master after attending one of his home-brew classes. For nearly 20 years, Norman upheld the great beer tradition of Syracuse, home to dozens of breweries at the turn of the 20th century.
He tapped into another great legacy as well, using hops from within Onondaga County – a premier producer of the crop before Prohibition. Today Suds counts Empire Brewing Co. and Blue Tusk as neighbors in a city re-establishing a reputation for great beer.
Alan: “This was all part of the warehouse district down here at one time, and this was a merchant and dry-goods warehouse. That’s what it start out as. It’s gone through a couple of transitions. We moved from Waters Street up in the Amos building, started up there 1993. We’ve been here since ’99. My ex-partner and I went to a brewing class that was held by our original brewer. We sat down and talked to him. He was teaching a brewing class up at Webber’s. Through the conversation after the class, tapped into him and he was all excited about the idea so we hired him and he was our brewer for 18 years. He worked at Shlitz. He worked at FX Matts. He worked at both those for quite some time. He was chemist by nature. He knew his stuff. I was able to, I guess, gain most of my knowledge through osmosis. Everything we did here, we kind of built ourselves, from the racking to the kegging operation. Everything, we designed it from the ground up. All we basically had was the equipment itself.” “Syracuse has a tremendous history in brewing, from Greenways to Haberle. There’s 30 some-odd breweries in Syracuse at one time. With the hops growing that was close by and the farms and draineries that were around here, it kind of came second-nature. This climate, I guess, is very inducive to growing the hops. It was more a drive to make something unique, make something different that wasn’t here. Trying to separate ourselves from everybody else and we’ve kind of made a unique situation where we try and please as many people as possible. Something we’ve been proud of and something we continue to be proud of.”