Are you over 21?

*This uses cookies.

Get email updates about upcoming Empire events in your area!

Get to know the Brewer


Get to know Matt Ducey, the newest addition to our 7BBL Brewhouse at the Syracuse Brewpub! Read on for an exclusive interview and a little shop talk.


How long have you been with Empire?
2 glorious months.


What made you want to become a brewer?
Growing up my mother instilled in me the confidence to make things myself. For example, when I was a kid I wanted a loft bed. So instead of buying one my mother and I made a loft bed out of a fallen tree. It came out so cool. When I came across beer I was intrigued by all the differently styles and history. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any way of accessing anything other than the usual suspects so I decided to explore the world of beer by brewing it myself. The rest was history as they say! 


What’s it like brewing downtown?
We call it ‘the fish bowl’ because there are so many windows to look in on, during lunch there are people just inches away from me on the other side of the glass. It’s very cozy down there. The brew house is relatively small compared to our farm facility, which allows us to be more playful at the brewpub and a little more risky. I get the chance to help refine and discover new techniques. I love it. 


Do you have a favorite Empire brew, or a favorite style you enjoy brewing?
The Cream Ale. I had my first Empire Cream Ale years ago at the Foggy Goggle, at Toggenburg Mountain. I had just dragged myself in from a cold dark run, the mountain had schooled me. I was into craft beer but at the time I lived in Maryland so was unfamiliar with Empire. When I saw the Cream Ale on draft my spirits where immediately lifted. I’ve always wanted to make one and I’ve never seen a craft brewery produce one. The taste for me was exquisite. Truthfully that moment is one of my favorite beer memories.  Now, years later I can’t believe I get to say I brew Cream Ale. It fills me with pride. 


What is the determining factor on creating new Empire beers for market?
I’m just a brewer.  I’m not a salesmen or marketer so my first step is to forget the market. I focus on ingredients, flavors, and styles. I consider what we have on draft and which brews we have currently in fermentation. From there I try to pick or create a recipe that complements our portfolio. IPAs are awesome but so are stouts, and lagers… and Belgians! In other words, variety is the spice of life and my objective is to curate a fine blend. 


How do you feel about our recent summer seasonal, Peach Buzz?
I’m proud to say we brew that beer. We use real peach purée which gives the beer a true honest peach flavor, something completely unique in our craft market. It’s mature and not at all candy-like. A lot of bigger breweries would quickly turn to chemical extracts and the like for lower cost and faster production. For me however, it’s imperative that Empire brews with the genuine article. 


Coming into fall, which beers should we be looking forward to?
I am looking forward to our Barley Wine which is aged for an entire year before being released annually on Election Day. We’re also debuting a brand-new session IPA coming out of our top-secret Elektra project… details on that soon to come!