Empire Brewing Company - Brewpub

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Empire Brewing Company - BrewpubEmpire Brewing Company - Brewpub
1,014 Ratings
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.

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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Ratings: 102 |  Reviews: 60
Reviews by slander:
Photo of 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:
Photo of socon67
3.81/5  rDev -6.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.5

Photo of Carron76
4.7/5  rDev +15.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 5

Photo of The_Beer_Guru
3.81/5  rDev -6.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

I’ll start out by saying that the food was fucking great! I had an elk burger with fried egg and bacon which was delicious. They had a decent selection of different beers but as far as quality goes...nothing really impressed me. The beer was okay with a nice vibe and a friendly staff.

 287 characters

Photo of Ekish58
3.45/5  rDev -15.2%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.25 | food: 4

Photo of Suds
4.15/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

My wife and I visited this brewery many years ago, back in the mid 1990's. We remember it being at street level, although now it is located in a sunken level of the same building. We enjoyed flights that included mostly ales, all of which were excellent. Most notable was a white beer that was exceptional. The food was eclectic. I had an elk burger that was solid, and the service was respectable. Worth a stop if you are in the area.

 441 characters

Photo of jacknyr08
4.46/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

Photo of Dantitus
4.66/5  rDev +14.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Photo of mynie
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

 1,520 characters

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

Photo of entenduintransit
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Photo of Gawz
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

Photo of frykid
3.94/5  rDev -3.2%
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

 174 characters

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
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

Photo of Mdf12180
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Photo of WillieThreebiers
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

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

Photo of Dingbat1477
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

Photo of brewaddict
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

Photo of RUN-4-B33R
4.88/5  rDev +19.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of Sabtos
3.25/5  rDev -20.1%
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.

 560 characters

Photo of kelseyr713
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

Photo of Tsar_Riga
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

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

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

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Empire Brewing Company - Brewpub in Syracuse, NY
Brewery rating: 3.67 out of 5 with 1,014 ratings
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