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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


Sweet Fire 2018

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!

This year the Sweet Fire women were invited back to Central New York to brew on Empire’s state of the art, production style brewery at a quantity for mass distribution in kegs throughout New York State.

Brewery Administrator, Jocelyn Feldmeth, gives us the scoop on the brew: “Being able to brew the Sweet Fire was an amazing experience and I am happy to have been apart of it.  We brought together women from all over New York State to take part in the brewing process of this unique beer.  Our day started off with mashing in our base malt and specialty grains alongside brew master Tim Butler.  Tim showed us all the ropes of the brewing process and let each of us take a hand making this imperial stout.  It was a pleasure to work along side him.  Learning how to brew on such a larger scale system compared to brewing on a much smaller scale at our Syracuse brewpub location was fascinating.

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.  I 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.

We are proud to introduce these amazing women in craft, and this year’s Sweet Fire brewsters;

  • Jen Keppard- Buffalo Tap House & Grill
  • Erin Hopkins- Vestal Ale House
  • Carolyn- Stag’s Head Ale House
  • Carissa Monahan- Branching Out Bottle Shop, Camillus
  • Amy- Wegmans, Canandaigua
  • Kate Amos, Blue Smoke, NYC
  • Sidney Stehle, Empire Brewing Co, NYC
  • Kim Killagrew, The Beehive Brewpub, Canandaigua
  • Tracy Sidmore, The Beehive Brewpub, Canandaigua
  • Jocelyn Feldmeth, Empire Brewing Co
  • Tiffany Rogers, Empire Brewing Co
  • Lindsay Rich, 1911 Established, Rochester

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


NY’s Latest Craft Collab, Smoke N’ Shadows

Pictured left to right, Tim Butler, Ethan Cox & Ryan Delmer

Later this week, millions of people will be tuning in to see what Puxatony Phil thinks about the weather. This Groundhog Day, Empire Brewing Company and Community Beer Works take the pressure off groundhogs everywhere with a promise everyone can look forward to.

Longtime friends and fellow NY brewers from Empire Brewing Co and Community Beer Works have joined forces to bring you New York’s latest craft collaboration, Smoke N’ Shadows, available this Groundhog Day. Munich and Vienna malts were hand-smoked with cherry wood in Empire’s on-site smoker for three days. The smoked malts were then blended with other specialty malts to give this rich porter a smooth, subtle, smoky flavor.

Community Beer Works is NY’s first nano brewery, making (really good) beer in (very) small batches since 2012. They believe that if they build community in all the things they do, good things will happen. Empire Brewing Company was founded in the heart of downtown Syracuse in 1994 but has since expanded to become the largest Farm Brewery on the east coast, recently named judges’ choice for ‘Best Brewery in Upstate NY, 2017’. Far from fair-weather friends, the collaboration between Empire Brewing Co and Community Beer Works is a demonstration of the brotherhood of brewers. Hard work, perseverance and passion are industry standards.

Founder and “Main Instigator” of Community Beer Works in Buffalo, NY, Ethan Cox, sheds some light on the origin of the collaboration: “Dave and I have been friends for a long time and we both serve on the NYSBA board. We have always talked about doing a collaboration together but it got serious when the Empire Farm Brewery in Cazenovia opened. I love how the idea evolved, Tim Butler stepped up to say ‘I want to smoke some malt, we have a killer smoker at the farm’, and that was the cherry on top.”

Ethan Cox and Head of Brewing Operations, Ryan Delmer, joined Empire’s founder, David Katleski, and Director of Brewing Operations, Tim Butler, at the Empire Farm Brewery mid-January for the first 50BBL batch of Smoke N’ Shadows.

“It’s fun to work with these guys and get them in-house.” Tim Butler said of his buddies at Community Beer Works. “It’s been a longtime coming for us, anticipated for many years over many beers.”

Demler agrees, adding that they’ve been, “Talking about opportunities and always looking forward to the collaboration. Tim and I have drunkenly joked about it for years!”

Thirsty yet? The Smoke N’ Shadows collaboration will be made available this Groundhog Day, regardless of the forecast. Look for this limited release on draft in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Don’t miss out, the liquid won’t last long!