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What’s Happening

Empire Launches their ‘French Kiss’ Barrel Aged Series

Empire Brewing Company has released a Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, the first bottled brew to come out of their cellar program which features over 50 Grand Cru oak wine barrels from the Burgundy region of France.

(Cazenovia, NY) –  If you haven’t been to the Empire Farm Brewery in Cazenovia, you might already expect an impressive production facility but you might be surprised by what you’d find in the cellar. Lined in bricks salvaged from the original Syracuse Haberle brewery, the cellar of the Farm Brewery in Cazenovia, NY is home to over 50 oak barrels. Vineyards typically burn their wine barrels after 3-5 vintages but Empire’s oak barrels were saved from the Burgundy region of France to furbish their ‘French Kiss’ cellar beer program. The first barrels were filled with beer back in 2016, and the Empire brewers have been experimenting with the complexities of barrel aging ever since.
The first release from the ‘French Kiss’ series is a mixed fermentation Russian Imperial Stout, aged for two years in five-year vintaged Echezeaux Grand Cru Burgundy Red Wine French Oak Barrels. Echezeaux Grand Cru vineyards are esteemed for the highest classification and favorable reputation in wine production. Additions of rich Belgian dark chocolate and chilies give this limited release a dark, rich wine flavor with a tart, dry finish. A new format and fresh look distinguish the premium brand, wax dipped in 22 oz bomber bottles you can pick up just in time to ring in the new year! Look for them at both Empire locations and select bottle shops in Syracuse, NY.

Brewmaster Tim Butler discusses his plans for the French Kiss series, adding that he looks forward to barrel aging a big, rich, Brown Ale. “The wine characteristics pulled from our Burgundy oak barrels will blend really nicely with dark, ‘roasty’, strong beers.” Market research and the production team’s personal preference dictate which beers are destined to be a part of Empire’s cellar aging program. Tim explains the learning curve is infinite. “Each individual barrel has it’s own set of variables, constantly changing with time.” The team is careful to maintain the barrels at a steady temperature and moisture level, sampling regularly. “I’m incredibly proud of this first release from the ‘French Kiss’ series. It’s very exciting for me to wrap up 2018 with an elevated brand that we’ve been slowly maturing for over 18 months. Not to mention my signature is on the label.”


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!


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!




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.

Take another little pizza my heart

Arguably the original food pairing, pizza and beer go together like… well, pizza and beer! Uno Pizzeria & Grill is teaming up with Empire Brewing Company for your pairing pleasure all summer long! Look for Empire on draft at participating Uno locations, and experiment with your matchmaking abilities! We like to go above and beyond (and we really like pizza) so we did a little reconnaissance work of our own. Follow us on Facebook and catch all of our stimulating pairing suggestions.

Participating Uno Pizzeria & Grill NY locations:
Columbus Ave.
Bay Ridge (Brooklyn)
Astoria (Queens)
Woodbury (Central Valley)
New Hartford


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.

Craft, Community & Collaboration

Vimeo video password: challengeaccepted


LOVE LOCAL. When Empire Brewing Co opened in ’94 in Armory Square, Pastabailities was one of the only other pioneers in a relatively untapped part of the city, a far cry from the dynamic downtown scene we know today. Owner and Founder David Katleski believed “if you build it, they will come” and when he moved into the basement of the Bentley Building he was making a conscious investment into the livelihood and prosperity of Downtown Syracuse. Fast forward 21 years and Armory Square is now home to many successful new startup offices, local business and full time residences. Supporting local isn’t always convenient and sometimes it means changing old habits, but the positive effects are undeniable and a practice that Empire has strived to maintain throughout all facets of business.

ONE BEER, TWO LABELS. DWS is a custom label printer in Deer Park, NY who manufactured Empire’s very first can labels in the summer of ’17 with their deubt of Slo Mo’ 16 oz cans. Naturally, Empire reached out to DWS to bring their Particle City can design to life but DWS was interested in much more. DWS wanted to push the envelope and try their hand at a marketing showpiece demonstrating their own creative capabilities and they wanted to use Empire’s beer to do it. Local supermarket chain Wegmans threw their hat into the Particle Project and pre ordered  most of the canned inventory as a feature in their “Freshest Beer Program” at locations throughout New York State. Wegmans even sent 50 representatives to “Empire Beer School” at the Farm Brewery. The Wegmans reps got to try their hands on the canning line featuring yet another community player, Ninth Planet Mobile Line. By the end of the day, Particle City was the culmination of four local businesses joined together by a shared love for craft, community and collaboration.

The teamwork demonstrated by the Particle City project has been a common theme in Empire’s many ventures and it won’t be their last! Empire has recently opened its doors to fellow breweries seeking contract brew opportunities, and is looking forward to future partnerships. Interested breweries can learn more about Empire’s Contract Brew Program online at:

Check out some of Empire’s other collaborations below:

Honey Brown Ale brewed exclusively for the Modern at the MOMA in NYC, NY
Waldorf Buzz, brewed exclusively for the Waldorf Astoria in NYC, NY
Lax Lager, a collaboration brew with Air Gait Brewing Co. in Syracuse, NY
Sweet Fire, a collaboration series brewed by women in the NYS beer scene since 2014
Beet Beer, brewed exclusively for Empire Brews and Blues Festival in Syracuse, NY
Grindstone Blueberry Ale, a collaboration with Grindstone Farm in Pulaski, NY
Empire Green, brewed exclusively for Tavern on the Green in NYC, NY
Shift Drink, brewed exclusively for Collichio & Sons in NYC, NY
Beer Brats made with East Coast Amber Ale by Hoffmans Sausage Co. in Syracuse, NY
Craft Beer Hot Sauce made with Skinny Atlas Light, and Craft Beer Mustard made with East Coast Amber Ale by Syrachacuse in Syracuse, NY
Local Grind, made in collaboration with Café Kubal in Syracuse, NY
Brewing Studies Program at SUNY Morrisville in Morrisville, NY
Smoke N’ Shadows, brewed in collaboration with Community Beer Works Brewery out of Buffalo, NY








Girl Scout Cookie Beer Pairing 2018

Join Empire Brewing Company for our 3rd annual Girl Scout Cookie Pairing! Each cookie has been thoughtfully paired with a 6oz pour of one of Empire’s tasty handcrafted brews that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. The fun starts at the Syracuse brewpub on Monday, March 19th.

Local Grind paired with a S’more
Black Magic Stout paired with a Thin Mint
Tog Grog paired with a Samoa
Cream Ale paired with a Trefoil
White Aphro paired with a Savannah Smile
Deep Purple paired with a Tagalong

This tasty pairing is only available while supplies last, indulge your sweet tooth and head to the Syracuse brewpub! See you there.

Particle City

Empire Brewing Company limited releases Particle City for the first time in 16oz cans!

Empire Brewing Company released Particle City at both their Farm and Brewpub on March 1. Back by popular demand, this brew made its debut in January of 2017. It’s local success on draft and rave reviews from brew fests throughout New York made it an obvious candidate for a specialty-canned brand. Still coasting off the demand from last year, the majority of Empire’s Particle City can inventory was presold to Wegmans, but the local supermarket chain didn’t stop there. Over 50 Wegmans representatives actually came out to Cazenovia on February 27th, 2018 for “Empire Beer School” and lent a hand on the packaging line. Particle City will be available at most Wegmans locations throughout New York as part of their Freshest Beer Program.

North Eastern Style IPAs, widely referred to as a New England Style IPA or NEIPA, have been gaining attention for years. In May of 2017, Beer Advocate called NEIPA an “official style”, as they had undoubtedly become an integral player in the mainstream craft market. Recognizing the rising popularity, Empire’s Director of Brewing Operations, Tim Butler, decided to throw his hat in the ring and developed Empire first NEIPA recipe.

“A ton of research went into this beer from small batch to the 90 Bbl batch that we brewed for this launch.” Brewer Tim Butler recalls. “Particle City was brewed with healthy 5 lbs. of hops per barrel, which is our highest hop/beer ratio to date. I knew from the first sip out of the fermenter that Particle City was destined to be a hit. It was exactly what I wanted, we really nailed it.”

If you expect this hop bomb to be super bitter, think again. Known for their bright hop aroma and citrus flavors, North Eastern IPA’s are not as bitter as you might think. Bittering hops, which give a bitter hop flavor, are added early on at the very beginning of the boil. “I really backed off the bittering hops with Particle City,” Tim explained. “Instead, I focused on introducing the hops in the whirlpool and as late dry hop additions.”

The resulting brew is aromatic and bright, with tropical flavors and a big juicy mouth-feel that only Citra and Mosaic hops can deliver. New York State flaked oats, late whirlpool additions and a three stage dry hop give this unmistakable North Eastern style IPA an iridescent haze but don’t be alarmed, it’s just Particle City. 8% ABV