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Farm News


Cheers to Skinny Atlas Light!


It’s #FlagshipFebruary and we’ll be toasting to Skinny Atlas Light all month long! Anything but trendy, our number one seller for a quarter century hasn’t earned it’s success by craft glitter or in vogue beer styling. This classic, light craft delivers big Kölsch character, weighing in at only 120 calories. Skinny is our most decorated recipe and founder David Katleski’s favorite pint. Simply put, this beer rocks but don’t take our word for it, grab a 6 pack or some farm fresh draft and judge our flagship for yourself!

We’re farmers as well as brewers and we understand the value in clean water. This brew pays homage to one of the purest lakes in the USA. Skaneateles Lake is the water source for Syracuse, New York and has been the lifeblood for all our hand-crafted ales and lagers since we opened shop back in 1994. Crack a bottle and relish in the clean, crisp flavor of our best selling Kölsch ale and three-time consecutive gold medal winner in it’s class at the Great American Beer Festival®. Now the largest farm brewery in New York State, we take great pride in our ingredients and we hope you enjoy this beer as much as we enjoyed brining it to you. 5.3% ABV

Big Leg Emma 11.2%

We’ve got a big, bad new brewpub brew now on draft at both Empire locations! This limited edition brew wont last long, grab a pint while you still can but be careful… this beer bites back.

Named in homage of the band Big Leg Emma who played at our Empire State Brewing and Music Festival in 2008, this big legged, high octane brew leaves a lasting impression like great music. Madison County Cascade Hops, Belgian Abbey Yeast and a blend of four chocolate malts make for an intense Russian Imperial Stout. Flavors of chocolate, roasted coffee, and dark fruits will cover your pallet and eventually make way for the piney cascade hops.


Sweet Fire 2019

At a Brooklyn beer event in October of 2014, 5 friends decided to join forces in a unique beer collaboration by beer industry women. The brew was so successful that the tradition has continued each year since! Look for the 2019 batch, this year with more Belgian chocolate and a hint less chili.

Syracuse Brand Ambassador, Jocelyn Feldmeth, gives us the scoop on the brew: “Our additions of the five chili spice blend and coca nibs brought the perfect amount of chocolate sweetness on the initial taste with the chili powder giving it a fiery finish.  I am proud to be a part of this all-women craft brew.  Before I became the Brand Ambassador I was an assistant in the brewery and am grateful to Empire Brewing Company for making my dreams of being a brewer come true.  In a male dominated industry, our Sweet Fire Stout shows that women with ambition and innovative ideas can bring something new and exciting to the table.”

Sweet Fire is an imperial stout that is brewed and fermented with cocoa nibs and a special chili blend, giving it a tantalizing chocolate aroma and flavor with a heat that creeps onto the palate and builds into a beautiful balance of sweetness and spice, 8.2% ABV. The liquid is available at a limited release while supplies last.


Available on draft in the Syracuse area and the following NYC locations:

Blue Smoke Battery Park City
•255 Vesey St, NY, NY
•116 E 27th St, NY, NY

Fools Gold
•145 E Houston St, NY, NY 10002

Treadwell Park
•301 South End Ave, NY, NY 10280
•510 West 42nd, NY, NY 10280
•1125 1st Ave, NY, NY 10065

Spring Lounge
•48 Spring Street, NY, NY 10012

Blind Tiger
•281 Bleecker St., NY, NY 10014

Bobs Your Uncle
•929 Columbus Ave, NY, NY 10025

Porchlight Bar
•271 11th Ave, NY, NY 10001

Pony Bar
•1444 1st Ave #75, NY, NY 10036

The Stagg’s Head
•252 E 51st St, NY, NY 10022

Oktoberfest 2018 at the Farm Brewery

Our first annual Oktoberfest at the farm was a huge hit with adults and kids alike! Saturday’s weather started a little gloomy but by the time the festivities started the sun came out and didn’t disappoint! Entertainment was bountiful throughout the day beginning with pumpkin painting and carving, a keg toss, brat eating contest and the kids went nuts for the balloon artistry provided by Jeff the Magic Man. The day rounded out with live music by The Sideways. Oktoberfest wouldn’t be complete without some traditional Bavarian dress and we were pleasantly treated to multiple dirndl and lederhosen sitings.

Accolades go to our winners!!!
The McLean sisters won the pumpkin painting with 2 beautifully colored pumpkins.  Michael Grannis for the win with his creatively e-carved pumpkin. Jim Sessler tossed his keg 30 feet to beat last year’s record of 26 feet! Last but not least this year’s weiner warrior, Jonathan Tibbits put away 7 brats in 6 minutes!  Can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!

Thanks to all of our customers for your support and to our friends at Our Farm Pumpkin Farm for sponsoring this year’s event!



The Oktoberfest Beer Pairing event in the barrel aging cellar was a great success! From Butternut Bisque with chili truffle creme and crunchy sage paired with the Sesh Squatch IPA to Stout Braised Baby Back Ribs paired with Burgunday Wine Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, there was not a single station out of 10 that didn’t deserve a repeat visit… or two. Thanks to everyone who came out for the opportunity to flex our culinary beer muscle!


Empire Customer Appreciation Zydeco Boogaloo Party

We want to throw you a party! That’s right, it’s a customer appreciation Zydeco Boogaloo at the Empire Farm Brewery! For the first time ever, we’re throwing a concert in the brewery and best part is it’s FREE! The legendary Nathan Williams & the Zydeco Cha Chas is the first band Empire ever booked at the brewpub 24 years ago and we are thrilled to welcome them now at the Empire Farm Brewery. Must be 18 or older to attend, we’ll be slinging $3 Slo Mo’ IPA tall boy cans all night. Come hungry, the Empire brewpub was raised on creole and cajun food so you know the night’s specials will be off the hook.

More about Nathan Williams & the Zydeco Cha Chas:

Nathan formed The Cha-Chas back in 1985, and since then has brought his unique take on this regional South Louisiana music to all corners of the globe. From Lincoln Center in New York to The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Nathan’s music has crossed all barriers to speak to the very heart of his audience.

Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and honored in 2015 with the Zydeco Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Cha-Chas have been voted the top Festival Band in the country according to the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and USA Today and have won the coveted Big Easy award for Best Zydeco Band for several years running.

Nathan and his band have been featured in the New York Times, Essence and People magazines, and on the cover of USA Today. They’ve appeared in films like In The Electric Mist as well as the soundtrack sharing credits with Michael Doucet and Buddy Guy and The Kingdom of Zydeco, and worked with artists as diverse as Cyndi Lauper on the album Creole Bred.

Keepers of the Zydeco Flame, they are committed to keeping their Creole heritage alive.

Empire’s Anniversary Family Field Day & Canned Food Drive!

For our 2 year anniversary, we invited our friends, family and loyal patrons to join us in a Family Field Day event and canned food drive. It rained almost all day but we had a great turn out and raised $340 for local nonprofit Caz Cares with dunk tank ball sales and a mountain of non perishable donations! Thanks to everyone who came out, and an extra special thanks to everyone who attempted to dunk Empire’s Brewmaster Tim Butler and President David Katleski!

Check out videos from the event on our You Tube Page!

Tug of war never stops being fun. Thanks to Urban Life for lending us this super sweet rope!

This winning tug o’ war team won a free round on the house. Beer muscles paying off!

Interesting Keg Toss technique.

Truly a sport for the strongest men and women, united in competition for the Empire ‘Beer for a Year’ title prize!

Congratulations to Gabe Horton for throwing a winning distance of 95’2″ in the Keg Toss! Strength must run in the family because Gabe’s father Randy Horton made third place with 82’3″. You fellas earned those beers.

Lisa Butler winds up, as Empire’s Brewmaster Tim Butler holds his breath.

These two used to be friends…

The dunk tank water was not warm.

Empire’s President David Katleski was a good sport and took a turn in the dunk tank to raise funds for Caz Cares.


The 5th annual Syracuse Fashion Week has finished it’s most recent year with its last show at the Empire Farm Brewery. Raising over 35 thousand meals through the Food Bank of CNY, Syracuse Fashion Week estimates another 8 thousand meals have been funded so far by this year’s events. Cheers to all the collaborators, organizers, vendors, sponsors, artisans, designers, models, and of course everyone who came out in support of the cause and their community!

Lisa Butler, founder of Syracuse Fashion Week

Live painting by Fletch Crangle.

Local designer line, Colleens Creative Outlet, focuses on upcycled clothing.

Tailor made dress by local balloon artisan, Jeffrey D’Ambrisio aka Jeff the Magic Man.

Director of Brewing Operations, Tim Butler (Left) watching the show with President and Founder of Empire Brewing Company, David Katleski (right).

Yes, the goat models came back!

We even had a pig model.

Local designs by 315 And Beyond’s new line.

Makeup and Hair Coordinator, Shannon Fleming, sips on a well deserved mimosa while enjoying the show.

Life’s a garden, dig it!

Mobley the goat retunred for his second Farm Fresh Fashions show. Still a star.

A Buzzworthy Year in the E-piary


It has been one year with our honey bee neighbors at the Empire Farm Brewery and also an eventful year filled with high, lows and honey! As a tribute to our queens and worker bees here’s the Buzz on our 2017 season in the E-piary.

“Winter is coming” is nothing to laugh about in the beekeeping world. Our five hives went into winter equipped with boxes full of honey, in the northwest corner of our property, wrapped in roofing paper to help with insulation. Our winter in CNY this year was inconsistent and the constant changes in temperature left our bees with a slim chance for survival.

With a 50% overwinter failure rate for honey bees in NYS we were victims to those statistics. Out of the 5 hives from last season we ended up with 2 living hives, but luckily we knew that they were the strongest. Now a few months into our warmer weather you can see the two hives filled with honey reaching close to five feet high! Extraction will take place sometime in August and honey will be divided between the brewery, kitchen and a small amount for retail sale for interested customers.

We were also able to preform a split from one of the hives, this is the act of taking young larvae or eggs from one hive along with worker bees and honey to start a new colony. After the split the queen-less hive was transported over 2 miles from our farm brewery so the worker bees inside would not be able to find their old hive. Once they realize they are without a queen and far from their previous hive it is time to get to work on raising a new queen. Worker bees create larger queen cells around existing eggs and feed them copious amounts of royal jelly. Royal jelly is fed to all eggs but the amount fed to a future queen triggers the development of her reproductive parts that only a queen has. This process take around 26 days and it is important to leave the small hive alone during this time, we will have to wait and see if the split was successful.

That’s all for now from the E-piary, but bee on the look out to try our estate honey for yourself on our tasting room menu, in our retail shop and on our beer list to see what all the buzz is about!

(Pictured right is Beekeeper Jackie with her mentor John Ferguson.) 





Empire’s Undercover Mission to Better Soil Quality


After a successful first harvest of our 3 acres of 6-Row Barley, we shifted gears in our backyard farming to focus on soil quality! Post-harvest we have been using different methods to improve our soil through very specific organic practices.  There are three main ways to improve soil:  grow cover crops, dig in soil amendments like compost and manure and/or mulching with biodegradable mulches.

The barley we harvested scavenged significant amounts of nitrogen from the soil so it was important for us to plant crops that would restore nitrogen levels.  These nitrogen-fixing plants are in a family called legumes. An acre was planted using a seed blend of daikon radish, oats, and Austrian winter peas. The oats are for the peas to climb up, the peas are an edible winter pea that is a nitrogen-fixing legume and the radish’s spear-shaped roots work to break through tight sub-soils in a method called bio-drilling.

Half acre plots were seeded with winter barley, rye and wheat, all of which were under-seeded with clover, another nitrogen-fixing legume.  Aside from uses in our tasting room and brewery these cereal grains help soil through rhizodeposition.  Plants release sugars and other substances through their roots, pumping energy into the soil. Rye and oats can dig as far at 6ft into the ground reaching subsoils deeper than one would ever dig!

Lastly, four 100ft plots of spinach, kale, lettuce and radish were planted with OCCRA compost in an attempt at a late season vegetable garden.  We chose fast growing vegetables that can be harvested in less than 30 days with good weather and a little luck.  If they don’t reach maturation by the first signs of frost they will be tilled back into the soil to convert the plant’s nutrients back into soil.

“If I wanted to have a happy garden, I must ally myself with my soil; study and help it to the utmost, untiringly. Always, the soil must come first.”-  Marion Cran, If I Where Beginning Again

Thanks for reading, stay up to date on what’s growing on the farm through our blog, newsletter and social media platforms. Or visit us and see for yourself what’s what in the backyard beer garden!



Hoperations at Empire Farm Brewery

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After a late start on hop planting at the Empire Farm Brewery we have been working hard to ensure these young plants can endure a Central New York winter. Weeding, soil amendments, and training have been the name of our hop game. Let’s take a closer look at what these methods do for our favorite perennial plant:

Weed control has proven to be the most time-consuming task in the hop yard. Weeds compete with hops for nutrients in the soil and also restrict airflow causing damp conditions that foster disease like downy mildew. Surprisingly, there are very few organic methods of weed control aside from hand weeding. UVM’s 2015 Hop Weed Management Trial states that, “While relatively effective, hand weeding has taken as much as 200 cumulative hours of labor per acre per year.” The good news is that our weeding efforts will pay off when our hops are established enough to ward off weeds.  Did you know a hop plant can send roots up to fifteen feet into the ground?!

Soil amendment refers to any material mixed into the soil. For us this means compost. OCCRA has provided us with the best USCC Certified organic compost in the area (see photo above). Compost offers numerous benefits as a soil amendment. It adds nutrients to the soil to promote plant health, retains moisture, and suppresses the spread of disease and weeds. There are similar benefits to the application of compost tea. Compost tea is just as it sounds, it’s the act of steeping compost in water. At the farm we use the method of fertigation to evenly distribute the tea (see photo below).

Lastly, one of the largest factors in strengthening hop bines and promoting growth is training. Training involves wrapping three or four bines in a clockwise direction around each string. The bines are trained clockwise to follow the sun as it rises and sets. Since, we have seen significant growth in a number of plants, the largest bine reaching well over seven feet! If you think that’s exciting we are also seeing flowering and the start of hop cones, but more on that in the coming month.

Even with a late planting this season we have been busy cultivating healthy soil and a system of organic practices in the hop yard. Be sure to stop by the farm before the end of summer to see our young hops while enjoying our award-winning handcrafted ales and lagers!
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