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What’s Happening

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


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



Empire’s Undercover Mission to Better Soil Quality


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!



We’re hiring tour guides!


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.


  • 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.


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

Apply here

Barley Harvest


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


Empire Brewing Company attended the Great British Beer Festival in London

Empire Brewing Company headed across the pond last week for The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF), which was held at the Olympia Exhibition Center in London from August 9th to 13th. Over 55,000 participants sampled upwards of 900 styles of ‘Real Ales’ (How the British describe English craft beer), ciders, and international beers throughout the week.

Owner David Katleski was on hand to personally help pour and promote Empire as part of a delegation from the United States Brewers Association. The Brewers Association helped a number of American craft beers gain international exposure, and throughout the week bottles of Slo Mo’ IPA, White Aphro, Black Magic Stout and Skinny Atlas Light were offered. Black Magic Stout and Skinny Atlas are both former winners from the World Beer Cup, and were incredibly well received by our friends in Great Britain. The week was a stunning success, and Empire is gearing up for distribution in Europe in the near future!


Involvement with international craft beer is no stranger to Katleski. In 2015, Empire Brewing Company collaborated with Jingwei Fu Tea company of China to produce Two Dragons, a beer brewed with the Chinese black tea. Two Dragons is currently being bottled and kegged at the Empire Farm Brewery, and is set for distribution in China later this fall along with the White Aphro and Slo Mo’ IPA.

Empire Brewing Company was founded in 1994 in Syracuse, New York, and recently opened a 60 barrel farm brewery and tasting room in Cazenovia, NY. The new Empire Farm Brewery enables bottling the award-winning ales and lagers for the first time. The 22-acre farm brewery is capable of growing hops, lavender, vegetables, herbs, and fruits for use in the brewing process and to support the needs of both the Syracuse brewpub and Cazenovia tasting room.



Hoperations at Empire Farm Brewery

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After a late start on hop planting at the Empire Farm Brewery we have been working hard to ensure these young plants can endure a Central New York winter. Weeding, soil amendments, and training have been the name of our hop game. Let’s take a closer look at what these methods do for our favorite perennial plant:

Weed control has proven to be the most time-consuming task in the hop yard. Weeds compete with hops for nutrients in the soil and also restrict airflow causing damp conditions that foster disease like downy mildew. Surprisingly, there are very few organic methods of weed control aside from hand weeding. UVM’s 2015 Hop Weed Management Trial states that, “While relatively effective, hand weeding has taken as much as 200 cumulative hours of labor per acre per year.” The good news is that our weeding efforts will pay off when our hops are established enough to ward off weeds.  Did you know a hop plant can send roots up to fifteen feet into the ground?!

Soil amendment refers to any material mixed into the soil. For us this means compost. OCCRA has provided us with the best USCC Certified organic compost in the area (see photo above). Compost offers numerous benefits as a soil amendment. It adds nutrients to the soil to promote plant health, retains moisture, and suppresses the spread of disease and weeds. There are similar benefits to the application of compost tea. Compost tea is just as it sounds, it’s the act of steeping compost in water. At the farm we use the method of fertigation to evenly distribute the tea (see photo below).

Lastly, one of the largest factors in strengthening hop bines and promoting growth is training. Training involves wrapping three or four bines in a clockwise direction around each string. The bines are trained clockwise to follow the sun as it rises and sets. Since, we have seen significant growth in a number of plants, the largest bine reaching well over seven feet! If you think that’s exciting we are also seeing flowering and the start of hop cones, but more on that in the coming month.

Even with a late planting this season we have been busy cultivating healthy soil and a system of organic practices in the hop yard. Be sure to stop by the farm before the end of summer to see our young hops while enjoying our award-winning handcrafted ales and lagers!
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Happy National IPA Day!

Today is #NationalIPADay! It’s the hoppiest day of the year! Join us as we celebrate one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: India Pale Ale.
India Pale Ale, also referred to as IPA, is a hoppy pale ale that has become the most popular beer style in the craft beer industry. The style originates in England when brewers began exporting their beer to colonial India. Traditional beer styles would spoil in hot cargo ships over the course of the long journey. Brewers then began to experiment with more malt to increase the alcohol content, and more hops which acted as a natural preservative… thus IPA was born!

On Thursday August 4th we’ll be offering $3 pints of our original IPA and $4 pints of our SLO MO’ IPA at our Syracuse and Cazenovia locations. Get hoppy with us on National IPA Day!

What IPAs will you find at Empire?

Our American IPA, hopped heavily w/ 6 kettle additions of Falconers Flight. It has a citrus aroma and a bright earthy flavor, with just the right amount of malt balance.

Slo Mo’ IPA is a true American IPA brewed with a blend of Falconer’s Flight and Mosaic Hops to convey bright tropical citrus notes for a crisp dry finish.

Ladybugs Released in Hop Yard at Empire Farm Brewery

ladybug release

ladybug release

Today we employed thousands of mail order ladybugs to aid with pest control in our hop yard.  Ladybugs are known as “beneficials” or insects that only eat landscape pests.  Their life cycle, from egg to adult, takes 4-7 weeks.  Adult ladybugs and their larvae will help to rid the yard of mites and other harmful pests.  In addition to the ladybug release we also sprinkled a mite predator called Neoseiulus fallacis, these hard to see bugs are highly effective in eradicating spider mites.  We can sleep easy tonight knowing these little guys are hard at work keeping our hops pest (and chemical) free!