Two days, two cities, three brewpubs.
On a recent weekend in November, I had a chance to drink and dine in good company at three New York State brewpubs: Druthers, Empire Brewing Co. and Syracuse Suds Factory.
Located in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs, Druthers’ inconspicious front is easily missed. After entering through a small, arched gate, we were greeted by a spacious patio area, ideal for lounging in warmer weather and enjoying live entertainment. Despite the early winter chill in the air, several people sat and drank near patio heaters, braving the cold.
Luckily, we were well-advised to have reservations for our party- the brewpub was packed on a Saturday night. The bar sits in the front of the establishment. Above, loom the expected trappings of brewing, large conical fermenters and the like. Under the loft space, in a room behind the bar, is the main dining area.
The service was great, and the food and beer was good. We opted for samplers that arrived in carousels holding six snifters of beer each. The brews were pretty standard offerings, and I mean that mostly in a positive way. Every brewpub must make and deliver these core beers, or so it seems. Solid beer, solid meal. I wish a had a chance to try their Apple Ale, but it wasn’t in the sampler, and I was comfortably full after dinner. An excuse to visit again.
Druthers opened in the late summer, and is a welcome addition to the Saratoga Springs beer scene.
Empire Brewing Co.
Empire Brewing Co. has earned an excellent name for itself, and certainly needs no approval from another craft beer website. We visited the Syracuse brewpub the day after Druthers. It wasn’t our first visit, nor will it be our last. The quality of the beer, food and atmosphere continues to be outstanding.
Empire is in the Armory Square district of Syracuse, convenient to an established drinking scene and entertainment venues such as the Landmark Theater. The brewpub has a great atmosphere with warm lighting and lots of brick. Located below street level, you could sample a lot of delicious beer without noticing the passing of time.
We had a few pints with our meal, including the Strong Ale, Pumpkin Ale, and another beer that featured lavender. Empire consistently delivers delicious, creative beer. Check out the sign made from bottle caps and beer cans, notably Genny Cream Ale, near the restrooms.
Syracuse Suds Factory
Following our visit to Empire, we headed next door to Syracuse Suds Factory. I asked if they had an IPA, and they suggested their pale ale. I took a picture of the napkin, because I liked the logo. The logo was my favorite part of Syracuse Suds Factory.