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CNY’s Farm Brewery Boom

Panoramic view of Empire Farmstead

The craft beverage renaissance happening in Central New York celebrates the region’s roots in agriculture as Brew Central. It’s from these roots that more and more farm breweries continue to grow here.

In order to be classified as a farm brewery, producers must create beer from locally grown products with no less than 60 percent of the hops and 60 percent of all other ingredients grown in New York state.

These locally grown products yield beer that can only be brewed right here in Brew Central –America’s Craft Brew Destination – and has led to the tremendous success of farm breweries in the area.

Carrie Blackmore of Good Nature Farm Brewery in Hamilton believes people care more about a product they’re connected to.

Good Nature Farm sign in front of the building

Good Nature – one of the first to become a state-certified farm brewery – uses local ingredients in its farm-to-glass beer to give a sense of ownership to their ever-growing fan base. That commitment has built a community around Good Nature and upped the capacity of the brewery 10-fold in a short time.

“In 2010 when we first had the idea to open a farm brewery, there wasn’t a lot of people doing the same thing,” Blackmore said. “It’s an agricultural area so we have a lot of local producers we can work with to make our beer and food.”

Heritage Hills, an authentic farm brewery located in Pompey, provides a true local food and brew experience. The brewery is situated right on Palladino Farms, which provides Heritage Hills with the grains and hops to make their own beer.

Dan and Nick Palladino are proud to share their family’s rich heritage at this brewery and continue their family’s tradition of raising grains that are used to make great New York state beer.

Heritage Hill sign on the building

Nestled in the bucolic beauty of Brew Central, you’ll find Brewery Ommegang. The hop bines that line the winding driveway signal you’ve arrived at a destination for craft beer fans, who are greeted by the farm-style building’s signature arch when they arrive.

It’s here that some of the finest Belgian-style ales in the country are crafted – here, among these humble surroundings that include a small hop yard and a large field that doubles as an outdoor amphitheater in the summer.

“With all of the breweries, wineries and distilleries popping up, Central New York is becoming more of a destination with all of its beauty and what’s going on in the beverage industry,” Brewmaster Phil Leinhart said.

Ommegang Brewery aerial view

Ommegang was established 20 years ago on a former hop farm – the first farm brewery founded in the U.S. in more than a century at that time. Nearby aquifers supply the brewery with one of Central New York’s best water sources. Carefully selected hops and grain create world-class beers.

“It’s continuous improvements, continuously tweaking the process to make the beer better and better and better,” Leinhart said.

Woodland beer

Much like Ommegang, Woodland Farm Brewery in Marcy outside of Utica embraces experimentation with its primarily New York state-grown beers. As a New York state farm brewery, Woodland uses as much New York state grain and hops as possible.

Co-Founders AJ Spado, Keith Redhead and Nick Natishak wanted to combine their passion for beer with an appreciation of Central New York’s brewing history. They established Woodland and captured the essence of Brew Central.

“We wanted to be involved in the brewing process as much as possible,” Spado said. “Just like a winery grows its own grapes, we think it’s important to produce our own ingredients.”

Brendan Harder and Chris Rhoades, co-owners of Beer Tree Brew Co. first had the idea to open their farm brewery after Brendan’s father-in-law began growing hops on his farm. Chris and Brendan quickly took to homebrewing and began brewing beer over and over again until they found the perfect method based on a reverse osmosis system.

Beer Tree Brew building

The farm allows for the two owners to grow everything they need to brew their beers such as Willet Hop and Grain. Other proprietary hops they source from other local producers.

Beer Tree Brew Co.’s menu items are also made with local ingredients, so visitors can enjoy a beer while sampling some of New York state’s finest farm products.

Empire Brewery Taps

“Farmers in the area are just as passionate about their products as we are,” said Tim Butler, head brewer at Empire Farm Brewery in Cazenovia. “These locally grown products give our beers their own unique and bold flavor you won’t be able to emulate in other parts of the country.”