I recently had the chance to visit Empire Brewing in Syracuse, NY. Overall, this is definitely a place worth visiting if you are in the area and are looking for food and a beer. Read on for some more specific thoughts on our visit.
Empire Brewing is a pretty cool place. The outside looks similar to a New York City subway, as you walk down the stairs to enter the restaurant.
The main bar and seating area where we were is in this downstairs area. It is a little dark, but with the basement vibe and exposed brick walls, it has a cool industrial feel.
We tried several beers. In no particular order:
- The IPA (7.2% ABV) was solid. With the number of quality craft breweries making great IPAs now, it is difficult to really stand out. So while this one may not be a world beater, it should satisfy most fans of the style.
- The Summer Ale (6%) was light, crisp, and refreshing. The bartender told us it had lemon peel in it, which initially made me scoff. But I’m happy to report that the citrus flavor is not too intense.
- The White Aphro (6.3%) is something. A Belgian style ale brewed with lemon peel, ginger, and lavender. It tastes like what you’d expect given the description. The lavender is the most powerful flavor. I can certainly appreciate the creativity here, and the name is pretty cool. I’m just not sure I’d want to drink an entire pint of this.
- The Golden Dragon (7.7%) was a nice way to end the evening. This is a Belgian golden ale brewed with Thai basil. It’s mostly just a light but tasty Belgian ale, but the basil is noticeable on the finish and in the aftertaste, giving this one a unique and very fresh flavor.
The food at Empire Brewing is about what you’d expect from a brewpub, albeit with a few twists. We tried the calamari, which was good but a little too heavily breaded. The meals we tried included the grilled fish tacos (which, with a little bit of the chipotle dipping sauce from the calamari, were very good) and the Spicy Pig Burger. This is a pork burger with bacon, cheddar, and a chili-garlic sauce. The burger was good, but was a little dry for my liking.
Overall, Empire Brewing is good. The beer and food are both good, and the prices are all reasonable. I will definitely stop by again next time I’m in the Syracuse area.
This one comes to us from North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg, CA. Being a fan of of Thelonious Monk, I had to grab a few bottles of this when I saw it at the local beer store. Read on to see if the beer lives up to the artist’s name.
From the Brewery:
North Coast Brewing Co. is proud to partner with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in support of Jazz education. The Brewery makes a donation to the Institute for every bottle of Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale sold.
Like a Belgian “Dark Strong Ale,” this beer is rich and robust with an ABV of 9.3%.
Appearance ours a hazy brown with a slight amber tint; has a small off-white head with little retention
Aroma: Smells sweet and yeasty, hints of chocolate and candy, a little bit of hazlenut, and some alcohol; Overall, it smells quite good – it really makes you think the beer will be tasty. As it warmed up, some dark fruit notes really began to come through
Taste and Drinking Experience: This has a medium-full body with a nice amount of carbonation. The flavors are fairly complex. It’s a little sweet, with a candy-like flavor similar to the aroma. It is very nicely balanced. You can tell the alcohol is there, but it is not too strong or overpowering. The alcohol flavors became more prominent as the beer warmed up.
Overall: This is a very tasty and well-balanced abbey ale that pulls off it’s high alcohol level quite well. It is a great sipping beer for fans of Belgian ales or those just looking for a classy sipping beer.
Brooklyn Brewery releases their black chocolate stout each year. And we try to grab some each time they do. This bottle was from this past winter (2012/13). Read on to find out what we thought.
Apppearance: Pours black/dark down, with a coffee/cardboard-colored head.
Aroma: Strong notes of chocolate and coffee, with some dark fruit.
Taste and Drinking Experience: Flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, with a twang from the dark fruit. The finish tastes like a chocolate covered espresso bean. It’s got a good mouthfeel that makes your mouth water.
Overall: This is a good beer, but we have to admit, we remember this being better in past years. Whether this is actually true, or our evaluations are thrown off because there are so many delicious stouts on the market, is unclear. But Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is a solid brew worth trying.