Support Your Local Brewery

Posted: March 19, 2009 by kmahern in Uncategorized
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Look closely, those red stripes are actually red dog lables

Look closely, those red stripes are actually red dog lables

That’s just one of the signs you’ll see in Empire Brewing Co. – an Armory Square gem I visited on a recent Sunday. On my first visit to the brewery/restaurant, I literally thought, “This place is so cool.” Perhaps not my most prophetic moment, but let me explain.

The wrought-iron gate at the top of the stairs decorated with oversized hops gave the first indication that this place is all about the beer. To my right as I entered, I caught a glimpse through some windows of the fermenting vats they use in the brewing process – our table was just feet away from the mysterious world in which malt, hops, yeast, and water magically combine to form alcoholic deliciousness. Cue the choir – I had entered some sort of beer heaven.

Empire's brew on tap at the bar

Empire's brew on tap at the bar

The brick walls in the dining area were simply decorated with portraits of pints (seriously, huge pictures of beer), each with a different background (like the ones you choose from in your third grade school portrait). The walls near the bar, on the other hand, were covered in gold, silver, and bronze medals – each awarded to one of Empire’s unique brews over the years at the Great American Beer Festival.

Empire Brewing Co. is located at 120 Walton Ave. in Armory Square

Empire Brewing Co. is located at 120 Walton Ave. in Armory Square

So cool, I thought. And it gets better. Empire is all about sustainability. The hops they use are grown by their brewer, and they serve vegetables and herbs raised in their own garden, along with locally-raised, grass-fed beef. If you’re a vegetarian, here’s a fun fact I got from the bartender: while most restaurants fry their mozzarella sticks and other veggie dishes in the same deep fryer as their chicken tenders, Empire keeps it pure.

Now on to the really good stuff. Empire has a different brew for every taste, and if you’re like me, you’ll love them all. To get the full effect, we ordered a sampler at the bar (6 mini pints for $10). Since I could hardly choose a favorite, here are some of the lighter beers that made me think spring.

White Aphro: Belgian white

“Bouquet” (the smell of the beer) takes on a whole new meaning with this brew. One sniff immediately brought lavender and honey scents, and the taste followed through. It’s like drinking flowers and sunshine (yeah I’m a girl, give me a break).

Hefe: a subtle 5.8% German-style wheat ale

Do I smell bananas? On first sniff, I was a bit skeptical. I took a sip: definitely malty bananas. Delicious. I want to say it’s like the Runts banana flavor, but no one likes Runts bananas. So let’s just stick with delicious.

Sampler Pints

Sampler Pints

India Pale Ale: Refreshing IPA

Although predictably hoppy, the usual IPA bitterness is slightly masked by grapefruit and citrus undertones, which make this a truly refreshing beer. If Sprite had hops (like, a lot of hops), this is what it would taste like.

Empire also has seasonal New York state guest beers from the Ithaca and Saranac Breweries and Bud Light available (though it’s more of a formality). If you are a Bud Light fan, try Empire’s own Skinny Atlas Light. It’s their much tastier and more flavorful version that provides the same drinkability.

Stop in for Hoppy Hour, every Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and get $3 pints along with some sweet food deals. And remember: think globally, drink locally.


~ Kaitlin

  1. Katie says:

    Great post! I’ll definitely check this place out. This post puts the DO’s half-assed Thirsty Thursday column to shame.

  2. Kaitlin says:

    Thanks, Katie! Empire is amazing all around. I just went again yesterday for Hoppy Hour and the waitress said they might start bottling and distributing their beer soon, which is exciting. Definitely check it out!

  3. Kate says:

    I want to say, Kaitlin, that I went to Empire on St. Patty’s because of your post and I enjoyed it immensely (although I was pretty hammered as it was also my bro’s 21st bday and he was visiting). Thanks for the tip here!

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