Empire Brewing Company - Brewpub

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Empire Brewing Company - BrewpubEmpire 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.

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Reviews: 55 | Ratings: 91
Reviews by slander:
4.65/5  rDev +14.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Brewpub in a basement once ago, closed down and the equipment left behind. Supposedly the building folks own it, but if you'd seen the place, you'd think it was there first and the building built around it, meaning I can't imagine how they'd have gotten it out of there if they wanted to. City without a brewpub, and I say that 'cause I don't consider that other place 4 doors down to, well, I digress. So it's done and you move on, dealing your days with the saving grace of your good beer bars (they do have that) and it should get a little easier every day. And then three years pass and the fermenters re-remembered, bringing it all to the surface again. From the ashes Empire once more...

Parked around the corner snow and slush and sloshed back some. Down the rabbit hole and into the big basement brick room, long and narrow, with alternating large brick archways and squared cut throughs leading to block slabbed outer walled rooms to both sides of center. A small forward raised area off to the left holds six booths & tables, with views over the 7 barrel brewroom to the side. A pair of raised bar tables past there and then a wide "C" shaped wood topped bar off to the right, seating about a dozen. Wines on the barback counter, tiered booze & glassware below, and growlers on both ends of the bar with mounted flatscreens above. A big board with printed tap selections sits above, next to a window in the brick archway there with a 2 row wine rack running it's entire trim, holding nearly 100 bottles, and more booze & glassware below. Bar counterage on the wall adjacent to the bar, and a large horseshoe shaped booth to the rear forward an open kitchen. Track spots, drop ruffled lamps with jellyfish, and half cylinder mounted lighting on the walls. Basementy blotchy brown slab concreteish floors, and colorful paper stars adorning the walls.

Side dining room off the front on one side holds a dozen plus tables & booths, the walls decorated with pint prints, World Beer Cup plaques, GABF metals, and Empire State Brewing & Music Festival prints. Side dining room off the rear on the opposite side holds six booths and some tables down the center, with views of the back of the brew room. Giant cool new but done retro Ellicottville Brewing Co sign on the rear wall there. Across the way, a large piece of art made from flattened Genesee cans.

2 towers of 12 each at opposite ends on the bar. 8 house beers and 5 New York State guest taps (Ommegang Hennepin, Southern Tier Porter, Saranac Bock, Brooklyn Monster, and Bud Light which technically qualifies), and a few bottles from Ommegang are available.

Sampler gives you 6 beers on a round tray. The 4 regular offerings (Skinny Atlas Light, a nice, crisp light beer; the Pale Ale, well hopped, fruity & piney; the Empire Amber Ale, toffee, but hoppy, a good amber; and the Black Magic Stout, solid roasted coffee flavors) and 2 of the seasonals (Downtown Brown, chocolatey niceness, medium bodied, light in color; and the Hefe, unfiltered, with slight banana flavors, quite good). John the bar manager gave me a tour of the brewroom and obliged me with samplers for the remaining seasonals (IPA, somewhat fruity, Amarillo hopped, pleasant; and the Chocolate Mint Stout, you heard me right, sounds freaky, but it was quite good. My first thought is that it tasted like melted chocolate chip mint ice cream, it was a very interesting beer). The Light, Amber, Stout, and Brown were all very good, but the Chocolate Mint Stout was wonderfully unique and I enjoyed it the most. Don't think there was a clunker in the lot and you can't say that for most brewpubs.

On my return visit 3 days later, I found some changes on the tap front. They had added the house Smoked Porter (medium body, good smoke flavor) to the line up, switched out the Southern Tier Porter for the Ithaca Apricot, and the Brooklyn Monster for the Brooklyn Brune, but I was back for that crazy Chocolate Mint Stout. Sat with Tim the brewer for a bit. 30 lbs of dark Belgian chocolate in a Foreign Export Stout and 7 lbs of fresh mint, although it didn't impart enough mint flavor so he went to peppermint extract. And when he said that, I knew why "melted chocolate chip mint ice cream" didn't capture it correctly. And that was because this beer tasted like "Liquid peppermint bark" (you know that stuff that comes in a tin around Xmas time, it's like candy cane with a chocolate edge, this was all that). It was a really nice beer.

A little din for the road, the Buffalo spiced shrimp app, and the Jambalaya (shrimp, chicken, smoked ham & andouille sausage). It was a heavy rice dish, not so much a soup or stew, but had some heat, and sure took the fiery red out of my big toe.

Good old school tunes being piped in. Kind of hard to drink my beer and not spill it when my head is singing along to The Delfonics "La-La means I love you." Nice comfortable place, friendly peoples, and great beer here.

 4,943 characters

More User Reviews:
3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

3.81/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

 359 characters

4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

4.07/5  rDev 0%
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.

 228 characters

4.58/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

4.58/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Love this place. Beer keeps getting better and better.

54 characters

4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

 536 characters

4.88/5  rDev +19.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

3.06/5  rDev -24.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.75 | food: 3

5/5  rDev +22.9%
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.

 304 characters

3.86/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

 259 characters

3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

3.54/5  rDev -13%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.75

2.98/5  rDev -26.8%
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.

 335 characters

4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

4.4/5  rDev +8.1%

4/5  rDev -1.7%

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

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.

 1,045 characters

4.08/5  rDev +0.2%

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Empire Brewing Company - Brewpub in Syracuse, NY
91 out of 100 based on 55 ratings.
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