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Schumer hopes federal funds will help local brewpub expand

Ellen Abbott
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., hopes federal funding will help Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse expand its operations into Madison County

The Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse is planning an expansion that will let the brewpub create a new kind of farm-to-bottle brewing model.

The company is looking for $200,000 in federal funding to help with operation of a farm and construction of a bottling plant in Madison County. Sen. Charles Schumer says the funds would come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would be a good fit.

"What these U.S.D.A. grants are supposed to do, is help rural areas create new kinds of jobs," Schumer said. "That’s what the doctor ordered. So what Empire is requesting fits exactly what the Agriculture Department wants.”

Schumer says this kind of expansion can be key to making New York state a craft brewing hub.

"I’m confident that what Empire’s proposing, growing their own hops, bottling their own beer at the same site, shipping the beer to local brewpubs and grocery stores and bars throughout the state and in the country, can be a model for craft breweries throughout upstate New York,” said Schumer.

The expansion means a new bottled Empire product will be on store shelves, called Empire Farmhouse Ale, and the bottling plant and farm will become an agri-tourism destination. Fifty jobs will be created from the expansion with the grand opening expected next spring. Empire owner David Katleski says this is just the beginning.

"We will continue to grow, continue to expand, and look at other pieces of property, so we can really make the majority of our beer with the ingredients that we grow," said Katleski. "It’s a message in a bottle, and we’re trying to spread the message.”

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.