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New York State Craft Brewers Festival

I love the artwork of wine labels, but craft beer branding is every bit as artistic, often beautiful – and it evokes the history of beer, brewing, NYS, hops, the personalities of the brewers, and in some cases, just the fun of enjoying a brew with friends – good times, good memories, good beer.

Let’s do a short quiz, shall we?

I’ll name a brand, you tell me why you’d recognize it as a brewery from our State!

– Rusty Nickel

– Prison City

– 315

– Big Ditch

Then I could go even easier on you with Hamburg, Heritage Hill, Lake Placid, Horseheads, or Saranac. 

And of course, many labels tell stories all their own, from a play on the shape of the hops flower (something like a beard, and hops oil is used to promote beard growth!), to an animal (wild or beloved – or both!), an idea, or a mood. The point being: beer, like music, art, and imagery, is fun, unforgettable, and has a way of bringing people together for the very best of times.

And then there’s the fact that though we’ve named several New York State breweries, there will be more than 60 at the Landmark Theatre in November at the New York State Craft Brewers Festival to help you celebrate the art, craft, and tastes of New York State brewed craft beers.

Since 2013, the New York State Brewers Association has been holding the festival, now the oldest and longest-running of the many that they hold state-wide. 

“There’s something about the Landmark,” said Association Executive Director, Paul Leone. “When you stand on that stage and taste the beers – and when the brewers serve it – you can’t help thinking about the history of the place. You might have seen your favorite band play there.” 

And, like the Landmark Theatre, brewing beer is definitely bound up in the history of New York State. Prior to Prohibition, there were 386 breweries in the state, one of the reasons being the plentiful fresh water the state boasts. In addition, New York State was a huge producer of hops, one of the four essential ingredients in brewing beer, the others being water, malted barley, and yeast. And equally important, Leone adds, “New York State has been supportive legislatively of the industry, and it’s our job at the Association to keep that relationship positive.” And clearly something’s working: New York State now boasts over 500 craft breweries tempting the tastebuds of beer lovers.

The creative side of brewing craft beer can be easily seen on the taps, bottles, cans, and advertising – but more importantly, it’s in the flavor of the brews. As Leone explains, “The brewers like to get creative, and offer beer lovers something new and different, as well as their old favorites in terms of flavors – right now the heavily fruited sours are quite popular, but one of the best reasons to come to the festival is to taste and discover new beer and breweries.”

With the large number of breweries represented at the festival – from all corners of the state, encompassing regions as distinct and diverse as the Adirondacks to Long Island, Buffalo to the Hudson Valley – you’re sure to find something to add to your list of loves. And you’re assured to have fun challenging your taste buds! And your beer will be poured by the brewery owners themselves, so if you have questions, or you just like to “talk beer,” the festival is definitely the place for you.

I asked Leone about the “post-pandemic” situation for the brewing industry. “It’s still a challenge,” he said. “While people are glad to get back out enjoying their favorite craft breweries, we’re still looking at challenges like supply chain issues, increased costs, and labor. But the breweries are still committed to doing their best for their customers.”

The limits on the world barley supply, and the supply of material for cans have both added to costs, but the aim of brewers is to limit the impact as much as possible. “And breweries have been challenged by labor shortages,” added Leone. “So if you’re looking for a great career, lots of fun and plenty of opportunities, this is it!” And while it may not seem like a tall order for a true beer lover, visiting your local craft breweries, and attending fund-raiser festivals like this one, are ways of ensuring that your favorite brews will be here far into the future.

The NYS Brewers Association was originally founded in 1830, halting operations during Prohibition. Re-organized in 2003, the association offers support and marketing to the craft beer industry in the state. In addition, beer lovers can find t-shirts and mugs, and if you want to explore the many member breweries throughout the state, “We’ve got an app for that!” says Leone. The cool free New York Craft Beer app offers two “passport programs,” a   and the Empire State Trail Brewery Passport. The maps help you find the destination breweries, and you can collect virtual “stamps” as you go, earning “Think New York, Drink New York® beer gear.

So, once again it’s time to “think New York craft breweries,” and get your festival tickets now so you can plan this year’s beer-venture right away!

Saturday, November 19, 2022: 4-8PM
Landmark Theatre, Downtown Syracuse


New York State Brewers Association
PO Box 25353 , Rochester, NY 14625



Nancy Roberts