Backdrop: Empire Brewery

Drink in this glimpse of the local microbrewery. By Rob Marvin | Photos by Shira Stoll

As the director of brewing operations at Empire Brewing Company, Tim Butler concocts 35 different beers a year. But he can’t put a taste bud on which one he likes the most. “It’s like asking who my favorite child is,” Butler says. “I love them all.” The Syracuse alehouse currently produces and pumps 13 of its own beers straight from the brewery to the bar’s taps, including the hoppy American Strong Ale, the spicy Liv and Let Rye, and the Skinny Atlas Light (Empire brews with Skaneateles Lake’s fresh water).

This spring, Empire will break ground on a new farmstead brewery that Butler anticipates will churn out 60,000 barrels a year—more than 20 times Empire’s current production. It should cure his (and everyone’s) recurring nightmare, in which he opens up the brewery’s walk-in cooler and all the beer is gone.