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Panda Brew visits Empire



Our friends from Panda Brew, pioneers of craft brewing in China, visited last week to create a unique collaboration beer. While the focus of the visit was to create an awesome brew, and to bring together the traditions of eastern and western cultures, we also had a blast showing them around Central New York and bringing them to some of our favorite local hang outs!

About the beer; This collaboration will be an IPA style beer using American craft brewing techniques and a traditional Chinese herb, Kuding. Kuding is a leaf from the Chinese Holly plant, and has a unique bitterness character that will complement the New York State hops, which are grown in Madison County. The beer is called Kuding-Ta IPA. The Kuding leaf was used as a bittering component along with New York State hops for aroma and dry hopping.

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Kuding tea in different forms


There is no way of knowing for sure what this collaboration beer will taste like, but Panda Brew’s Yu Xia says, “Kuding is very unique in the fact that it has a strong bitter taste upfront, while leaving some sweetness on the end.” Panda Brew has experience brewing with this herb for their own Kuding Pale Ale.

Panda Brew Brewmaster Pan Dinghao has an interesting view on this collaboration, saying, “I always like to educate about drinks and their meanings. In the past, the eastern world relied on tea as a safe drink rather than water which may not be safe. In the west it was beer. We want to combine these two cultures to create something new and different.”


The beer will be released in the upcoming weeks at Syracuse Brewpub, and will also be available on draft in Panda Brew’s four locations across China.

Of course, the trip wasn’t strictly business, we also had to throw in a little fun. The Empire team gave Panda Brew’s team a tour of CNY, and took them to some of our favorite local spots. First stop was Dinosaur BBQ, followed the next day by an awesome trip to Ithaca Beer Co., where we sampled some of their brews. That same day included a trip to the Brewster Inn in Cazenovia for appetizers and pints of Empire’s Black Magic Stout. Arguably, the best part of the day was visiting the Empire Farm Brewery construction site! We wound down the day by visiting an Empire favorite, Knoxie’s Pub in Pompey for their famous wings and of course…. more beer!

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We are looking forward to the release of the Kuding-Ta IPA in the brewpub and hope you are too! Check Empire’s tap list to see when it will be available at the brewpub.