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What’s Happening

Overwintering Bees in the E-piary

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What’s the buzz with the E-pairy honeybees in the winter?

Honeybees are known as a super pollinator.  Have you seen recent campaigns that take all products that are created with the help of pollinators out of the grocery stores?  Long story short, you’re not left with much.  Spring and summer are a thriving time in agriculture with much help from pollinators like the honeybee, but what do our tiny friends do in our northern climates in the winter?  Many of you have asked and we are here to give you the buzz.

In mid-fall when nighttime temperatures start to consistently hit 40 degrees Fahrenheit an alarming pheromone is let off in the hive to signal a few practices.  First, the female worker bees take it upon themselves to kick out the drone (male) population, equating for roughly ten percent of the colony.  Drones serve one purpose and one purpose only, to inseminate a new queen and when honey (food) reserves are scarce during the winter they are kicked to the curb because we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch. Sorry, guys.  Next, worker bees begin to cluster around the queen bee in a circular motion while flapping their wings to create heat.  Worker bees weave from the outside to inside portions of the cluster to keep the colony warm.  Clustering is a crucial practice that keeps the colony and queen at no lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit so she is able to continue laying eggs throughout the winter, which determines the fate of the colony.  The population of the colony drops drastically and the laying of eggs in early January is essential for the colony to repopulate in early spring.

As the temperature rises and falls, the cluster expands and contracts. The bees within the cluster have access to the food stores of honey and pollen. During warm periods, the cluster shifts its position to cover new areas of comb containing honey. An extremely prolonged cold spell can prohibit cluster movement, and the bees may starve to death only inches away from honey.

It’s upsetting to report that over 40% of honey bee colonies in the United States do not survive the winter and in New York State it is closer to a 50% failure rate.  As a beekeeper all you can do is cultivate healthy hives that have a large population at the end of summer and plenty of honey and pollen stores, over 80lbs in colder northern climates!  It’s not until the first warm days of spring where a hives fate is revealed and a beekeeper can either breathe easy or begin work on a new colony.

That’s all from the E-pairy this year, thanks for following and keep your fingers crossed for a successful overwinter.  Long live the honeybee!

Brew News: Worst Day IPA

It was an ordinary morning at Empire Farm Brewery and like clock work the production team geared up for another day of brewing.  With safety glasses on and slip grip boots in toe the brewer’s started their day’s work.  With the push of a button, in the fully automated brewhouse, over 4000lbs of malting barley made its way into the building to be milled and added to the mash tun for a batch of Slo Mo IPA.   It wasn’t long before the brewer’s realized the mash was stuck!  With some troubleshooting and pure force the mash moved into the lauter tun, where grain and wort (sugary water) are separated.  Phew, they dodged a bullet!  Covered in sweat and confusion they continued to make beer.  But just a moment later the brewhouse began to experience major automation glitches!  What was the deal?  A power outage… They soon realized the building had experienced a power surge the night before and the entire brewhouse had been uncalibrated, yikes.  Anything else? Of course, we all know things come in threes.  Next, the boil kettle was registering a full tank of wort but was just over half full, with all the ingredients of a full batch. (Let us stress the massive amounts of malt and hops in a Slo Mo)  It was decided that the brew team would let the cycle run its course, but it was clear that they had created an entirely new brew.  A hazy IPA with medium body and extra malt sweetness!  Director of Brewing, Tim Butler, took it a step further and utilized our hop cannon for the first time ever to dry hop the brew with 50lbs of Citra, a prized west coast proprietary hop, to give this beer a bright hoppy nose.  In a final tribute to this historic day in Empire Farm Brewery history, brewer Jimmy so simply put, “that was the worst day ever, man” and the rest is history.

Thanks for letting us vent about our worst day ever, to say thanks we’ve kegged it and made it available for your drinking pleasure EXCLUSIVELY at Empire Farm Brewery in Cazenovia, NY!  It the first beer to be featured on our farmhouse tap series of one-offs and specialty batches offered only at Empire Brewing Company.

SWEET FIRE 2016

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In October 2014, at a Brooklyn beer event, 5 friends decided to join forces over a unique beer collaboration by beer industry women.  Empire Brewing Company welcomed the collaboration with open arms.  The women presented the idea of a new beer style that would have big flavor and incorporate unique ingredients.  Head Brewer, Tim Butler, was put to the test and delivered a recipe unlike any other.  The collaboration’s success in 2014 made this an instant tradition for the ladies of Sweet Fire and Empire Brewing Company alike.

Since that first brew in 2014 the Sweet Fire collaboration has grown to 14 women involved in the brewing process of the imperial stout.  They are an eclectic group of women with a mutual love of craft beer.  The women of Sweet Fire are entrepreneurs, sales woman, cicerones, managers, writers and representatives to some of the top beer establishments in the metro New York area.  They come from far and wide, most moving to NYC in their adults lives and finding themselves in one of the fastest growing industries in the state, craft beer.

In the past two years, the Brewsters, a term from the middle ages referring to female brewers, would create small batches on the Empire brewpub 7BBL system and release the liquid at limited quantities to the establishment’s they worked for.   Much has changed for Empire Brewing Company in the past year in the opening of their 60BBL farm brewery in Cazenovia.  This year the Sweet Fire women were invited to Central New York to brew on the state of the art production style brewery at a quantity for mass distribution in bottles and kegs throughout New York State and New Jersey.  The liquid is available at a limited release while supplies last.

Sweet Fire is an imperial chocolate chili stout with a tantalizing chocolate flavor and heat that creeps onto the palate, presenting a beautiful balance of sweetness and hotness. 8.3 ABV%

Youtube: BrewHer Shoes

We are proud to introduce to you to these notable women in craft, and this years Sweet Fire brewsters; 

Cheers to you ladies, and thanks for the pure liquid!

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Buy Local, Give Local!

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Grow local, craft global. That is Empire Brewing Company’s mission. A long time advocate of supporting local businesses, Empire encourages you to shop locally this Holiday season! As added incentive, Empire has committed to donating 10% of all locally sourced artisan merchandise to local charity, Caz Cares. Stop by the Empire Farm Brewery and checkout the neighborhood craft!

Find the following premium brands at our local table:

Caz Cares serves low income residents of the Cazenovia School District and surrounding areas of Madison County with food, clothing and other necessary services. In Madison County, 26% of the residents live in poverty. Every month, approximately 170 families receive food from the Caz Cares food pantry. In addition to a monetary donation, Empire has organized an incentivized canned food/toy drive allowing patrons to help our less fortunate neighbors. Through the month of December,  bring in non perishable food item(s) or new toy(s) to be donated to Caz Cares and receive a free Empire draft pint! (must be 21 or older, only one pint per customer.)

 

 

 

 

Jingle Bell Brunch is Back

Empire Brewing Company is proud to present another great line up for our annual Jingle Bell Brunch.  For three more weeks enjoy your 2016 New Times voted, best brunch spot in Syracuse, on Saturday!  This music series is in partnership with the Armory Square Association’s “Holiday Happenings” which works to bring the best local music to  businesses in the Armory Square area of downtown Syracuse.  Last Saturday, Chris James & Mama G rocked the Brewpub and we look forward to what’s up next:

Saturday, December 3: The B-Side Band 12PM-2PM

Saturday, December 10: Better than Bowling Band 12PM-2PM

Saturday, December: Bradshaw Blues Band 12PM-2PM

Find the full list of “Holiday Happenings” below or at www.armorysq.org/holidays

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What’s a Farm Brewery?

Last month, Governor Cuomo’s office announced a $55 million budget for tourism and craft beverage in 2017.  This is a $5 million increase from 2016 and the largest amount of funds allocated to tourism in NYS history.  Empire’s new farm brewery in Cazenovia has become a premier argitourism destination in Central New York and has been made in a large part through the support of New York state.

Yesterday, Empire Farm Brewery welcomed the Lieutenant Governor and other state officials to celebrate the opening of the state’s largest Farm Brewery.  Owner, David Katleski, thanked all parties involved in the project and it brought to light how many pieces made up the larger puzzle of opening a brewery of Empire’s size through the farm brewery legislation.

Since the law went into effect in January 2013 over 100 breweries have opened under this licensing.  The legislation has stimulated massive growth in all aspects of the brewing industry.  It was created in partnership with the state liquor authority to eliminate arbitrary post-probation laws, streamline regulations, and eliminate the need for a separate license to sample and sell manufactured beer.  The law also gives farm breweries the ability to buy and sell beer, wine, liquor and cider from other businesses under the NYS farm legislation.

The farm brewery law was modeled after the Farm Winery Act of 1976, which spurred the growth of wine production in the state, including the creation of 261 farm wineries and tripling the number of wineries.  To be licensed under the farm brewery law in accordance with the Department of Ag. and Markets, beer must be made with primarily NYS ingredients.  The current standings to meet these provisions is 20% hops and 20% all other ingredients must be grown in NYS.  Increasing twice until 2024 when 90% hops and 90% of all other ingredients need to be grown in state to meet requirements.  This law is not only opening breweries but creating a serious demand for NYS ingredients like hops, barley and rye.

Demand has been met with the creation of over 200 acres of hop yards in New York over the past four years. The Cornell Cooperative Extension has made great strides in studying how to grow hops in NY zoning climates and works to assist farmers statewide through site visits and information sharing online.  Prior to the passage of the legislation there were few farmers that grew malting barley, but in June 2015 Cornell reported 8 operating malt houses and 32 farmers growing the crop.

In the widespread growth of farm breweries there has been positive economic development, tourism and job growth throughout the state, and governmental support on the state level has been a driving force.  Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul stated yesterday at the Empire Farm Brewery, “When I see a craft brewery or a winery downtown, people coming to engage, I see great potential. I see first of all, they’re attracting young people who want to live and work and recreate in areas like this. But also it sends the message that this is an area that is rebounding.”  Cheers to continued success in the NYS craft!

empirebrewing2Find further coverage of the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony here.

A sweet note from our beekeeper, it’s liquid gold!

Hey honey,

Going into my first summer of beekeeping I had not a clue of what I was getting myself into. After a bit of research and one Syracuse Beekeepers meeting I realized it would be a small part of my job. I told myself a half day of research and the rest of the day executing—no big deal. I had no idea it would turn into the best part of my day, week and job. I learned a lot too, like how to light a smoker, what a full bee suite felt like on a hot summer day, and what it’s like to move slow, simply observing a thriving colony made up of a thousand small beings.

It became something I shared, often. And I started to not only see my knowledge of honey bees grow, but my colleagues understanding grow as well. Co-workers started to eagerly join me in managing the hives and ask in-depth questions about new hive trends and late-summer swarming. I knew going into this that I was responsible for educating myself on this fascinating hobby but who knew I would have my Empire team behind me doing just the same.

Then something amazing happened, honey! In an unexpected turn of events I extracted ninety pounds of what I call “liquid gold.” Enough to supply our tasting room, make available for retail sale, and even enough to brew a small batch of honey beer at our Syracuse brewpub. (Drum roll) This is what I present to you. Our amazing brewers have crafted the most decedent honey brown-ale and it’s on tap at both of our locations for your drinking pleasure at a limited quantity. Deemed the “Backyard Buzz” this English-style brown-ale will send you into notes of chocolate and toffee, and leave you with a distinctive sweet honey roasted finish. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it. Save the bees, drink Backyard Buzz!

Bee yourself,

Jackie Wood, Empire Beekeeper

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Empire’s Undercover Mission to Better Soil Quality

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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!

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We’re hiring tour guides!

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Join our team! Empire Brewing Company is seeking to hire part-time tour guides for our Empire Farm Brewery. 

Job Description:

The ideal candidate is a friendly and outgoing individual, who is comfortable speaking in front of people, passionate about beer, and always willing to learn. This includes providing hospitality services and one-on-one interactions, which will ensure a positive, informative and quality experience that is memorable to all customers.

Responsibilities:

  • Respond accurately to consumer inquiries/complaints ensuring customer satisfaction
  • Ensure the safety and comfort of all customers during their visitation and reacts quickly and confidently in emergency situations
  • Additional duties and projects may be assigned

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Appreciation and knowledge of Craft Beer
  • Strong knowledge of Empire Brewing Company, its history and its products
  • Requires strong people skills and excellent verbal communication and presentation skills
  • Requires ability to learn and memorize information quickly
  • Must be able to present information in a pleasant, convincing and professional manner while maintaining an enthusiastic and entertaining attitude
  • Requires ability to work in fast-paced, high-pressure environment and a high level of adaptability to constant change.
  • Requires ability to walk long distances, climb stairs, and stand for long periods of time
  • Must be 21 years of age or older
  • Able to lift 50 Ibs.

Availability:

  • Must be able to work Saturday and Sunday 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM and other hours as needed.

Apply here

Barley Harvest

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What is barley?

Barley is a basic cereal grain, or grass seed used for making beer. There are three major types of barley, all of which are differentiated by the number of seeds at the top of the stalk. Barley seeds grow in two, four and six rows along the central stem. We grow six-row barley at the Empire Farm Brewery because it has a higher concentration of the enzymes needed to convert starch into sugar, and is actually more economical to grow.

When is the barley ready for harvest?

We must ensure that the grain is ready to harvest. The first indicator is simply visual, barley turns from green to golden when it’s ready to harvest. The color change indicates that the barley is beginning to lose its moisture and should be cut soon. Harvest time for barely can range from August to early October. The weather during the growing season can significantly impact harvest dates. Moisture level however, is the most important factor when considering harvest. Barley is ready for harvest when the moisture level is below 18%.

Ready, set, harvest!

The combine passes over the barley, cutting the stalks from the ground, and internally processing the grain. In a matter of seconds the barley has gone from stalks in the field to berries, or hulled barley seeds. At this point, the grain is nearly ready for beer production.

Where is the barley being tested?

The 5 1/2 ton totes of grain are hauled away to Pioneer Malting Inc. in Rochester, NY for testing. Pioneer Malting Inc. is a craft malt house that produces malted grains for the brewing and distilling industries. As a smaller malt company, Pioneer Malting Inc. can create a malt specifically customized to the needs of our brewers at Empire Farm Brewery. Regular malt testing is just one of the steps Empire Farm Brewery takes to ensure the quality and consistency of every Empire craft pint. Cheers! IMG_4703