Empire Brewing Company

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Empire Farmstead Brewery in Cazenovia has established itself as the largest farm brewery on the eastern seaboard. And a spate of new state laws, friendly to brewers, has made it possible.

It used to be that Madison County was a leading producer of hops, an ingredient in beer. Then along came Prohibition, which almost killed the brewing industry -- and the ancillary industries that supported it -- and created a series of laws unfriendly to brewers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

  East meets West in a glass at Empire Brewing Company in downtown Syracuse. The new Two Dragon beer is the result of a Syracuse business delegation that visited China last year.

The new craft brew relies on Fu brick tea imported from China for its unique taste. It got rave reviews when it was introduced at Empire this week, with tasters describing it as smooth, but with a little edge of tea flavor.

Empire founder David Katleski says it actually makes sense to use tea in the brewing of beer.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

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.

Ellen Abbott

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.