Empire Brewing Company - Brewpub


Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

120 Walton St
Syracuse, New York, 13036
United States

(315) 475-2337 | map

Re-opening as of June 5th, 2007.

EMPIRE BREWING COMPANY, est. 1994, is an award-winning brewer of handcrafted ales and lagers in the heart of downtown Syracuse. We aspire to provide customers with the finest all-natural ingredients available by utilizing fresh locally sourced products from over sixty Central New York farmers. EMPIRE FARMSTEAD BREWERY, est.2016, is the largest Farm Brewery on the East Coast. Over 22 acres were developed for educational and beer production purposes. Boasting a new 60 bbl automated brewhouse, the Empire Farmstead Brewery is producing kegs and bottles for regional, national and international distribution. Bottled lineup includes 3 time consecutive Great American Beer Fest gold medal winner; Skinny Atlas Light, White Aphro, Slo Mo’ IPA, East Coast Amber Ale, and World Beer Cup gold medal winner; Black Magic Stout. Located in Cazenovia, NY, the property also grows hops, lavender, vegetables, herbs, and fruits for use in the brewing process and to support the needs of Empire’s downtown brewpub.

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Reviews: 58 | Ratings: 96
Photo of mynie
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Stopped by around 4 PM on a cold and dark Wednesday. The pub is right in the middle of downtown Syracuse, a city where the architecture is pretty so as to deflect attention away from its horrific climate. You descend some steep metal stairs and then step into a large, cavernous basement bar that is bricky and woody and very warmly lit.

The bar has the feel of most other, nice brewpubs that opened between the early 90's and the early aughts, falling somewhere between a sports bar and a middlebrow restaurant. Large metal brewing kettles sit behind a glass partition, in full view of the bar. The bar itself is long and polished, and there's a chalkboard listing all the tap options. It feels nice: clean, but lived-in, very homey.

The staff was friendly and the bartender knew a fair amount about each beer. The tap selection was broad (about 15 house beers), with a good combination of older school brewpub flagships (stout, IPA, etc) and more adventurous new styles (beer with tea in it, beer brewed with asiatic hops that taste like mud, etc).

As to the beers... they were all solid, but all forgettable.

So, I dunno. If you find yourself in Syracuse, I'm sure there are more options. The place right across the street, for example, seemed to have a taplist of non-house beers that was much more impressive. But Empire was still worth visiting, I feel, as it's a warm and welcoming example of an older school brewpub, free from garish trappings of most of the places that have opened more recently.

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Photo of frykid
3.94/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Been here quite a number of times....try to stop in when in Syracuse

very nice brewpub, good selection of Empire beers and ales always on tap. Good selection on the menus

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.81/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.75

Located in a very spacious, old building in the heart of Syracuse. Large bar area with two more large eatery area's.
The place to go before a show, stopped in for the second time during Phish's summer tour stop at the Lakeview Ampitheatre. Place was booming, good vibe and the service was able to keep up.

Food is good and beer quality about the same.

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Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4

Large basement partitioned with brick archways separating dining and bar areas, giving the place a somewhat intimate feel. Huge C-shaped bar. Over a dozen beers on tap - wide and varied selection. Friendly, efficient bar staff.

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Photo of brewaddict
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Been to Empire Brewing a number of times throughout the years when traveling "upstate" to visit family. It's in a cool basement location with a modern style decor. A glass window behind the bar looks in on a number of fermentation tanks. Never seen anyone actually working back there, but it's a nice touch. Service has always been friendly and prompt. The food, while a little upscale, has always been good. I'm particularly fond of the Gumbo and Jambalaya. Beer selections are good combination of in house and local offerings.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.25/5  rDev -20%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

From the outside it is effectively a scaled up dive bar, but upon entering, it's a large restaurant with brewing production on display from behind large windows. As we perused the menu, we watched a brewer scooping spent grain out of a tank.

Service is attentive and knowledgeable and the selection is moderately large and varied with some classic takes and new twists. The beer didn't blow me away, but it wasn't bad either.

Food is all right, with a nice selection, although a couple of side dishes had me wondering if they were pre-processed frozen foods.

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Photo of kelseyr713
5/5  rDev +23.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This might be my favorite restaurant. The food was amazing, atmosphere is great, our waiter was super friendly and knowledgeable. There were tons of choices for both food and drink, and I definitely want to go back here again. It's also cool to see the brewery part through windows inside the restaurant.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.86/5  rDev -4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A neat step-down space, decent food, with a range of beers. Many are quite delicious, and represent a range of styles. The service is reasonable, if a touch slow during our Sunday morning visit. If I'm in Syracuse again, I'd return, and would recommend it.

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Photo of eluvah
2.98/5  rDev -26.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.25 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.25

Was there on a Wednesday night, not crowded. The service was slow. Had two beers, price was reasonable. Had Aphrodisiac Ale and Two Dragons. Both were decent, but I have had better. May have tried one more since I wasn't driving but the service was so slow, the person I was with wanted to leave. Had fish tacos that were unimpressive.

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Photo of Brenden
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

EBC is on the busy stretch of downtown Syracuse in Armory Square, where the locals understand one goes for the best pub crawl in the area. It's typically busy, and it's pretty much half restaurant / half bar. Reservations are required for the restaurant, but the bar is always open for walk-ins. Not only that, anything on the menu can still be ordered at the bar. It's a nice vibe with a mix of industrial and modern, a more retro look outside. It can only be reached under the sidewalk, so it's underground. There is some small outdoor drinking space, though it seems more like a waiting area; there are tables and a counter, but no chairs. The brewery has a good number of beers available in excellent variety, so there's something for everyone. Barmen are attentive, too, and will not hesitate to offer a free sample or several. The service, food, and selection are good, and I enjoyed the beers as well. They serve 12 of their own beers at any time, as well as ciders they brew themselves, with a few guest taps and some bottles.

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Photo of DavidGross
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Had nice outing with IT team. Had Elk burger, was cooked as I asked and was good. Other meals at our table looked good and all was well reviewed. We had many different beers and the wait staff was excellent. Empire also participates in the AHA Member discount, saved me a lot of money, huge thank you to Empire and all other participating members!

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Cajan style food and amazing beer brewed on the premise. They also feature some outstanding local brews from others. It will be difficult to get in there on a weekend unless you go at the senior's hour before 6 or so. Get the blue corn lobster bisque and be amazed. The waygu burger is pretty good as well.

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Photo of Roguer
3.01/5  rDev -25.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2.25 | service: 3 | selection: 3.25 | food: 3.25

Amazing atmosphere and decor. The brewpub is below street level, with catacomb-like arches and vaults all in red brick. Dark and cozy.

Beer, sadly, was not particularly good. Out of a flight - four regular and two seasonal offerings - there was not a single beer I would order at a bar or bottle shop. A couple were beers that I might pick over BMC, but that's pretty sad praise for craft beer.

Service was OK; neither remarkably good or poor.

Beer selection was relatively large, representing a good number of styles, but based on my flight, I cannot imagine that you would want many of them. I would still like to try their rye IPA, stout, and bock.

Food was shockingly mediocre, from fries to entree. I really had high hopes based on the menu and the quality, locally-sourced ingredients, but my meal was no better - and perhaps worse - than you might find in a chain restaurant.

Prices are a bit high, and if the taste of the food lived up to the price, I'd knock it down to "reasonable." Again, a lot of their meat, dairy, and vegetables are sourced from local farms, so the price would be quite understandable if the food tasted better.

Overall, I cannot recommend Empire Brewing for a meal or a beer based on my sole trip.

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Photo of boszormeny
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Worth a trip if you are in Syracuse. Tons of beer selection and right downtown. Food was great. Came here with a group of ten people. Service was quick and polite. Enjoyed our meals and the brews. There were enough beers that everyone in the group could find something they liked

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Photo of jaz58
4/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A nice brewpub in the hip side of downtown Syracuse.

Good beer selection. I concentrated on their drafts. The Rye IPA and Brown Ale were my favorites.

The Morracan Chili is worth it. Followed by the Bently Burger another good choice.

Ambiance was great. Busy, especially the weekend we visited. (The Orange B-ball playing Georgetown for the last time, their 61st meeting).

Empire is well worth dropping by for a pint and a bite.

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Photo of mparnell0202
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Empire Brewing was great. Cool atmosphere. You walk into a basement below the street down a steel step staircase. Exposed brick and dark browns give this a great atmosphere. The bar tender was friendly and knowledgeable. I didn't have a bad beer here and was thoroughly impressed with each beer I tried. I had:
-local grind (coffee stout)
-American strong ale (unbelievable. So tasty and complex)
-Liv and let Rye (RyePA)

All of them were delicious and refreshing. They won a GABF Gold in 2002 for their Oktoberfest. An office after party came in about my third beer in which was pretty annoying as they were ordering martinis, cosmos, and Jack and diets, but all in all a good energy at the bar. Food was good and unique which is essential at a beer bar. If you are in Syracuse, give it a go!


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Photo of derekdenim
4.78/5  rDev +17.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Amazing selection. Very reasonable prices. Great beers. My only complaint is that you can't pick and choose the beers you want in a flight. They pick them for you. I did not eat here but next time I go I will. Every beer I tried was good. I will come back here again and again. Definitely a hidden gem in Syracuse. The staff was so nice. I got a free flight because someone ordered one and didn't want it I guess. The bartender gave it to m because he noticed that I sampled different beers going from light to dark. Even the light beer was good.

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Photo of Edwaka01
2.78/5  rDev -31.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 2 | food: 5

Great food, great atmosphere.

A - The place is gorgeous. Cool subway entrance off the street down a level to a waiting area, inside is pristine. Low light, brick/mod decor. Makes you think you're somewhere cooler than Syracuse.

Made the mistake of sitting and eating at the bar, where an extremely low-brow nitwit would not leave my girlfriend and I alone, even while we were clearly eating and not into hearing of how awesome his band was and how the beers here needed more yeast. He fell asleep at the bar 10 minutes later and was asked to leave. He should have been cut off long ago.

Q - This low rating is for the beers. We split one of their flights, which I'll complain about under selection, but anyhow...I found the stout okay - not great, and the winter warmer "tog grogg" a little over spiced. Those were by FAR the best two beers. Amber ale, Skinny Atlas Light, Deep Purple, and their Pale were all really horrible. I'd heard really god things about this place so maybe I'm being too harsh, but they were not good.

S - Half-present waitress/bartender. Had a short one-liner to toss out about each beer, nothing more. Went to eat her lunch in between giving us drinks, taking order, and bringing food, thats all we saw of her. Nobdy else to replace her while she sat at the other end of the bar stuffing face.

S - They had a decent number of beers that enticed me, however we were FORCED to include 4 beers of their choosing on our flight of 6 total beers. Amber, Pale, were pretty bad, the stout was drinkable, and then they have the stupidity/balls to include Skinny Atlas Light. This is literally a better version of Bud Light, but still pretty horrible. Why the ()&*@ would you force craft beer lovers to drink this? I get that they make it because they don't have the backbone to tell BMC drinkers to screw off and order a real beer, but to force this atrocity upon everyone who orders a flight is a real dick move.

F - I'll probably go back here, and if I do, it's only because the food was awesome. I got the Mediterranean platter - olives, feta, falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, and pita bread. What a meal. This was yesterday and I'm still sorry I ate it all, but I couldn't stop.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

the worst kept secrect in syracuse. this place is always packed and for good reason. underground facility with dim lighting, mod style furnishings, and a wide range of house made and local guest beers on tap. they have all the standard beers, a light ale, a pale, a brown, and ipa, and a stout, which are all just fine, but they also have some impressive bigger beers and seasonal selections. their wheat wine comes to mind. food is new orleans influenced, creative, and quite good. ive had many items from this menu and never been let down. crawfish nola is my favorite. they do cool events, like lobster on new years and various beer events. its all a bit pricey, but so is everyhting downtown. i like this place a lot

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

First, this place is below street level, so you have to look for the way down. Second, we could not find a parking space on the road, so we parked at the parking garage around the block and walked. It's not far. However, it is definitely worth the effort.

We were seated quickly; it took a while before our waitress to get to us, because the place was quite busy. That's a good sign, though. You know the atmosphere is good when you're at a brewpub and you see a party of nine women coming in to eat, none of them with beer. You know they're there because it's a great place. (I know women like beer too, I just say this because this specific group did not have beer.)

Our waitress told us of the beer sampler - six beers, four standard and two of choice. I ordered this, of course; but the waitress liked the hefe-weizen, which I did not order, so when my sampler arrived there were seven beers, not six. She wanted my opinion of the hefe, which was quite good. All the beers were above average quality, and the samples were larger than expected. Good thing I can hold my alcohol well.

Now on to the food. My wife ordered a Tuesday pasta special, which had olives,feta cheese, and garlic. She absolutely loved it, and it was loaded with garlic. It was a good thing I had made review notes of the beer before it arrived, there was that much.

I got the elk burger with Swiss cheese (no mushrooms) and blue corn corn bread. The burger was not done enough, but that was easily fixed. When I got it back, it was perfect. Delicious, did not need any salt or condiments. And the corn bread was great by itself, even better with the maple butter that came with it.

Prices were reasonable. A six beer sampler for $10, the elk burger and one side for $12, my wife's pasta for $12. Average prices, above average food. We were in Syracuse for two nights. I am not sorry we chose this place as one of our dinner choices.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.1/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

For the beer enthusiast, no trip to the Armory Square nightlife district is complete without a stop in to the Empire Brewpub. Tucked away in a cellar-like setting just off of Walton St. seems the perfect getaway from the cramped and noisy streetscape.

A covered set of medal stairs go underground to a chasm of exposed brick, stonework, metal tables and a handsome stainless steel storefront. Once inside, the hostess and bar greets with about 20 seats, pockets of flanking rooms for table seating, and an elevated patio upstairs that overlooks Walton St.

The rotation of taps inlcude 8-10, six or so being perminant while a few seasonals and special releases filter through. On this visit, these beers were offered: Skinny Atlas Light, Summer Lager (Seasonal), Pale Ale, Amber Ale, Black Magic Stout, Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, Aphro White, Cream Ale (Nitro), Maple Porter, and Wheatwine (Special Release). All seemed above average to good in quality with the standouts to me were the Brown Ale and Wheatwine.

Where our waitress was well equipped to answer the basic answers to questions that we threw at her, we didn't probe her for too many details beyond what an average waitress at a brewpub should know. She was eager to help us and greeted us with a smile and kind word with each visit to our table.

The gormet-style food was prepared by their 'performance' kitchen with exposed views for customers in a sleek and well lit display. The lobster bisque and Thai chicken salad were certainly satisfactory for my lunch time visit. The chefs seem to take pride in the quality of locally grown ingredients as well as their artistic display.

The decor of the restaurant and brewery is very artistic as the outside brick texture continues inwards. Understated woods, exposed ductwork, and structure gives a slight warehouse character while the earthen color scheme, local artwork, track lighting, stainless steel, and interesting architectural elements keep you peaking around the next corner. More storefront windows also pear into the brewery component where carefully polished brew kettles, mash tuns, and fermenters proudly boast the process of the beer that I have in my hand. The entire brewhouse is very well lit and clean throughout.

If not for the slightly insufficient parking on the street, I would almost always make Empire a stop when in the area. But as it is, I suggest off-peak hours such as mid afternoons or week nights.

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Photo of UDbeernut
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Below street level in the main "bar and resturant" part of Syracuse, Empire Brewing has a large bar and lots of seating. The decor was modern with open brick. Outside was standing room floating tables.

Selection was mostly their own brewed beers which where pretty tasty. The IPA was a bitter hop bomb. I ordered the fish tacos which where also excellent. The menu was nice and not as highly priced as many reviews on here lead you to believe. Most sandwiches where $8 or $9.

Excellent brew pub. Deffinatly recommend to those in Syracuse.

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Photo of fmccormi
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 5

Empire is a great brewpub. In terms of the beer, what they brew is just fine. None of it blows me away, none of it really disappoints me (with one or two exceptions), but you know you can always get something satisfying. They also fill growlers of anything they brew, so that's awesome, and relatively cheap fills, too. But, for those that love real ales, I've never seen anything on cask.

In addition to their beer, they have some mixed drinks and wine, though I've never bothered to get any. Their FOOD, however, is really, really exceptional. If their beer is good then their food is great. Very great. Plus, they work to locally source as many ingredients as possible, and work with local farms, so they're really on the ball as far as being a responsible eating establishment. In terms of the restaurant aspect of the place, it's a nice atmosphere and the service is adequate to excellent, never bad. Can't go wrong here.

All in all, a great place to go if you're looking for high-quality food and a good, local beer to boot.

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Photo of BeerMaverick
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I went to Syracuse University and this was my favorite place to go aside from Blue Tusk. Both their brews and food are fantastic.

I had the Downtown Brown and the Black Magic Stout, both of which were great. I wouldn't recommend the Deep Purple because it's not really a beer...more of a soda, but it seemed very popular nevertheless.

I had a burger with onion straws and it was also unbelieveable...especially paired with their beer.

The scene was pretty unique: you immediately go down stairs from the sidewalk and into an undergound porch which has floating tables (without seats). This is where the main entrance is located to the bar and restaurant. Inside it is pretty dark, but everything is brick and it really compliments the downtown theme.

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Photo of mgbickel
3.98/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

Located in the downtown section of Syracuse, you have to go below street level to enter this place. I was there in the fall months, but it looks like there is some outdoor seating/standing area.

The interior is exposed brick, steel and modern art (maybe Art Deco...I'm not sure). The bar runs along the right side of the building with a large seating area off to the right.

The service was good, borderline great. The server was friendly and knowledgeable. The food was really good...my wife and I were both impressed with the quality and presentation of our dishes.

The beer selection was appropriate for a brewpub. A few offerings from the most popular styles.

All in all, this is worth the trip. Good beer, great food and a hip atmosphere.

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Empire Brewing Company - Brewpub in Syracuse, NY
3.71 out of 5 based on 865 ratings.
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