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What’s Happening


By: David Katleski, founder, Empire Brewing Company

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The success of Downtown Syracuse, in particular Armory Square, has been at the forefront of my interest and business priority since 1992. When Empire Brewing Company first opened its doors on November 3rd, 1994 I think we paid $3 per square foot; a fair rent at the time for a basement. And over the past quarter-century and five different landlords we have watched Armory Square grow into something remarkable. Local business people interested in creating a unique entertainment and shopping district of downtown primarily developed Armory Square, fostering the character we see today.


While I applaud the investments being made in Syracuse by outsiders, it’s concerning to see some negotiations are not done for the betterment of our city but solely for personal interest. I am not a proponent of increased regulations but I do believe that a structured growth plan for Armory Square is prudent. Now outside developers purchasing buildings are doubling and tripling tenant rents. Solid businesses are being forced out of their locations as a type of cleansing because they are not able to sustain the new occupancy costs or don’t fit within the landlord’s grand scheme.

Such is the case with Empire Brewing Company in Armory Square. Prior to the Armory Boys acquisition of our buildings Empire paid an average of $10 per square foot; a fair rent for a basement space. When the Armory Boys purchased the buildings, they raised our occupancy costs to average $33 per square foot. Rather than being evicted, and lose 50 jobs, we moved forward optimistically hoping to conquer these economic challenges and remain a cornerstone of Armory Square. Empire has paid over $300,000 more in rent and additional charges in the past 24 months versus the 24 months prior. It is simply not reasonable to expect Empire, occupying less then 20% of the total leasable space, to pay 100% of the Landlord’s mortgage.


In addition, an extensive punch list of landlords required work in the brewpub has gone unfinished. When I was promised an increase in business by having them as our landlord the opposite has occurred. We were promised full tenancy in the two buildings and the opposite has occurred with increased vacancy. Renovations to the Piper Phillips Building went well beyond the projected construction timeframe and during the past two-years of construction we were forced to deal with constant operational disruptions, construction noise and renovation dust, with no rent concessions whatsoever. Empire has been operating for the past 6 months without a Certificate of Occupancy because the buildings sprinkler system is not to code.


The economics of the lease is unsustainable and has caused deficits at the brewpub. Having to pay three times the occupancy cost forced us to cut labor at the sacrifice of service, decrease portion sizes and increase prices, which caused us to fall short on the customer experience that we strive to deliver. The occupancy cost has made it impossible to invest profits back into the business for marketing, renovations and upgrades. We were current on all charges up until August when I asked the Armory Boys for rent concessions; if they wanted Empire to continue as a tenant, we needed a 3-month rent abatement (just rent, not taxes and utilities) and a revised rent structure moving forward.

Tuesday night Jeffrey Appel, managing partner for Armory Boys, LLC locked the gate and all access to Empire without a NYS court order and took possession of all of the contents including perishables, beer, liquor, tenant property and employee personal items.

In as much as I love operating the brewpub in Armory Square, it pains me to admit that we are at a significant impasse with the Armory Boys and will be closed indefinitely. Losing nearly 50 jobs at the pub also pains me greatly.


Over a thousand people have worked at Empire on Walton Street during the past 25 years and each have helped us create and serve award-winning beers and critically acclaimed foods. Thank you to all that have worked here and all that have patronized Empire’s brewpub. November 3rd will be our 25th anniversary. Please raise a glass of your favorite Empire beer in remembrance of the pub and join us in celebrating a quarter century of business.

Oktoberfest 2019

Hey fellow fall lovers… this one is for you!

Next Saturday, October 12th, will be our second annual Oktoberfest at Empire Farm Brewery. Join us dressed in your best Oktoberfest attire from 12-3 pm for an afternoon of family fun activities.

Participants will have a chance to compete in our annual Bratwurst Eating Competition at 12:30. Those of you with a craving German cuisine, check out our specials on the board. While eating lunch, enjoy the musical styling of Valdaniel & friends from 1-3pm. Don’t forget to burn off lunch with our keg toss at 1:30. For our kinder guests we will be offering face painting and have games set up outside including corn hole and more!


Prizes will be available throughout the afternoon so don’t forget to dress your best!

On draft we will be serving our award winning Oktoberfest Ale! The Oktoberfest is a tradional Marzen brewed with German lager yeast and has a mild hop profile with a sweet, clean, and crisp malt flavor. Fresh on draft are some of our other seasonal favorites, including, the Pumpkin Ale and Space Witch DIPA.

Prost Freunde!

Hop Harvest @ The Farm

It’s all hands on deck as summer comes to an end at Empire Farm Brewery. All summer long we have been growing beautiful Cascade hops in our two-acre hop field out front. These hops aren’t just for aesthetic; this year our brewers gathered 500 lbs of the hops and brought them down to the Bineyard in Cazenovia, NY. Only 24 hours after the Bine Yard processed our hops, they were added to our Hop Harvest Ale.

Our Hop Harvest Ale is an American style Pale Ale made with wet hops. This style ale has a fresh hop flavor and aroma with a balanced hop bitterness. We will proudly be serving the Hop Harvest Ale along with our Reverse Viking Imperial Stout at this years Madison County Hop Fest’s Craft Beer Sampling on September 14th. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at entrance or at Food for the Hop Fest will be available between 12-2pm, while the beer pouring will take place between 2-5pm.

Keep your eyes out for the Hop Harvest Ale at Empire Farm Brewery! See you there and happy sipping!

Introducing this season’s summer ale: Bedrock Wit It!

Prepare yourself for confusing delight- this traditional wit ale has a big twist. We teamed up with Glazed and Confused to bring you Bedrock Wit It. Empire’s Director of Brewing Operations, Tim Butler, and owner of Glazed and Confused, Paulie Valenti, met up to collab. The duo discussed a variety of flavors before finally settling on the popular Cereal Killer Donut for inspiration. The Cereal Killer donut is a vanilla cake doughnut with a honey glaze that is topped with fruity pebbles.

Brewer Matt Ducey weighs in, “This collaboration is really exciting. It gives us the chance brew some playful beers. Bedrock Wit It will be a great brunch beer. I cant wait to see what comes next, hopefully it’s what the fluff.”  Glazed and Confused supplied us with 3 dozen Cereal Killer donuts and 30 lbs of Fruity Pebbles. This seasonal brew is available at both Empire Locations while supplies last, so get it before it’s gone!


This is one of several collaborations Empire has done with local businesses around New York State. In the past we have worked with Café Kubal to bring you Local Grind Scotch Ale, as well as the Community Beer Works that produced Smoke N’ Shadows Porter. Our collaborations are some of our most iconic and beloved ales and we look forward to many more.

Yabba Dabba Doo and happy drinking!

Farm to Table




Summertime at the farm means fresh veggies delivered straight to your plate. Empire Farm Brewery sits on 22 acres of land and features five vegetable gardens and one herb garden. So far this year we have harvested snap peas, green tomatoes, purple basil, cucumbers, watermelon radishes, icicle radishes, and honey drew. We get chives and cilantro from our herb garden. Our crops are used in a variety of ways, from daily specials to award winning Empire ales and lagers.

Our general manager, Bre Barzee, had a vision for these gardens and has brought them to life. Every week before work Bre comes in early and tends to the gardens. She has been in charge of planting the seeds, weeding, and picking the final product. The satisfaction of delivering true farm freshness is something that cannot be obtained overnight.


“We chose vegetables we knew we could utilize in the kitchen and sell to our guests. All of the crops we planted are heirloom from the Michigan Gardener.”


For those of you who are interested in planting your own garden at home we’ve asked Bre for her best gardening tip. According to Bre, “We add worm casing to the soil which adds extra nutrients.” Happy gardening everybody!

Haberle Brewing Company Launch Event

Did you know that Empire Brewing Co. built the Empire Farm Brewery with bricks that once formed an original brewery 100 years ago? The brewery was known as the Haberle Brewing Company and they are back! Empire Brewing Co. has been working with Haberle Brewing Company, to produce the Haberle Congress Lager and the Haberle Derby Cream Ale. To celebrate the re-opening of Haberle Brewing Company, Empire Farm Brewery will be hosting a launch party on Saturday, July 27th from 1-4 p.m.

Don’t be late, the first 25 guests will receive Congress branded pint glasses! Free tastings of both Congress and the upcoming Derby Cream Ale will be served and pint servings will be available at reduced prices. Light appetizers will be available throughout the event and the musical styling of Jamie Cunningham will be from 2-4 pm.


The event will take place in our farm cellar. Our cozy cellar comfortably seats 75 people and features a quaint outdoor space. Surrounded by beer aging barrels, our guests can enjoy a game of pool or foosball, or admire our vintage radio collection.






Monday, June 24th our Farm location celebrated 3 years of business! To celebrate, we wanted to thank all of our customers who continue to support Empire Brewing Co. Those who came out enjoyed dollar off pints as well as two specialty beer cocktails all weekend long. The cocktails included the refreshing Deep Purple Lemonade and the decadent Stout Shake! Additionally customers had the option of ordering from our special Taco Tent.


Since day one Empire Brewing Co. has been dedicated to producing interesting and unique craft beers. For the last three years, Empire Farm Brewery has made that dream a bigger and better reality than ever before. The Farm has an impressive 60-barrel system that allows Empire to keg, bottle and distribute craft beer regionally, nationally, and internationally. Since we first opened our doors in 2016, the Farm has been determined to bring farm freshness to every meal. Locally sourced products, carefully crafted beer, and vibrant atmosphere make Empire Farm Brewery one of a kind.

Cheers to 3 years- from our family to yours!




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