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Empire Brewing Company says new brewery will create distinctive craft beers

Syracuse's Empire Brewing Company will become one of the top five brewers in New York state, if all goes well with the creation of Farmstead Brewery in Cazenovia. Empire wants everybody to get in on the craft brew party, even people who aren’t craft beer connoisseurs.

The owner of the Empire Brewing Company says he wants to turn more people into beer snobs.

"The longer they are surrounded by craft beer, the more they’ll let their barriers down and try new things," says Empire founder David Katleski.

Katleski is talking about people who may be turned off by the sometimes hoppy, sometimes heavy and distinctive taste of craft beer, a product that’s been exploding across New York state and the nation in recent years.

He says one focus of this new Farmstead Brewery is education, especially for non-craft brew drinkers.

"We’ll be growing barley and we’ll be growing rye, and we’ll be growing wheat and also various hops strains, so we’ll have the ability to show people what goes into a beer,” Katleski said.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
Beer kegs from Syracuse's Empire Brewing Company.

The Farmstead Brewery will combine a bottling plant and farm on 22 acres of land on Route 13 in Cazenovia. Tim Butler, director of brewing operations, says growing ingredients in central New York will really mean these will be distinctive brews.

"Our hops are going to be indigenous to our land," Butler said. "We might get unique flavor characteristics from them that might not come from other parts of the state, and other parts of the country for that matter."

Empire will bottle six beers at the plant to start. The flagship beer that will be bottled at the plant is an amber ale, which Butler calls a hybrid English-American style beer.

“It’s one of those beers that can be looked at as an introductory beer," Butler explained. "If you’re not into craft beer, this might get you there, and if you’re into craft beer and if you don’t want want a super high ABV, highly hopped IPA, you can drink this beer and it’ll still appeal to your palate.”

The farm will afford Empire the opportunity to try out some new brews as well. For example, Katleski says they’ll be planting some peach trees.

"We’re going to make a sour peach beer, which is unique to Belgium," Katleski said. "They’re called lambics. That’s definitely on the radar.”

And bottling all this beer means it’ll reach people it’s never reached before.

"If you look at the ratio of beer that’s sold in New York state, about 65 percent of all the beer that breweries sell is at retail facilities like grocery stores and retail stores," Katleski explained. "So for us it’s significant because it allows us to get more beer out there."

And that, according to Katleski, means more craft beer on the palates of people who may not be craft brewery fans just yet.  

"You know, I think it’s important that craft brewers do not rule out the prospect of the non-craft drinker."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.