In early 2018, the number of breweries operating in New York State exceeded 400, setting an all-time record. According to the State Liquor Authority, those numbers continue to grow despite a few notable brewery closures. More than the number of breweries operating in New York State, however, there are also more than 1,000 craft alcohol manufacturers in the state, including breweries, distilleries, wineries, and hard cider makers.
The brewing industry as a whole has changed dramatically over the past few decades and Syracuse, NY, is a major part of that change. Home to some of the largest breweries in NY and surrounded by hops farms in the rural countryside, Syracuse has a finger on the pulse of the booming craft beer industry. Keep reading to learn more about the beer culture in Syracuse and to see the city’s top 10 most popular beers.
Embracing the Beer Culture of Syracuse
For decades, New York State has been known for its winery and vineyard business. According to a recent report, however, the surging craft beer industry is on pace to rival the wine industry in terms of sales. A 2018 report revealed that New York State’s 434 breweries generated over $3.5 billion in direct economic impact – this includes beer production, sales, and the operation of tasting rooms. The craft beer industry is also responsible for generating nearly 20,000 jobs and over $722 million in wages in the state.
There is no doubt that New York State is home to one of the fastest-growing beer cultures in the country, but it is important to distinguish between the booming New York City and Upstate New York. Syracuse is a major hub in the Upstate beer scene and is home to a some of the state’s most popular breweries, including locally owned breweries Empire Brewing Co. and Middle Ages Brewing Co.
Historians suggest that the 1890s were actually the peak years for Syracuse’s brewery business — a testament to the city’s longstanding beer culture. The industry employed over 400 locals at the time and produced 300,000 barrels of beer and ale each year. Though Prohibition had a catastrophic effect on the beer industry, a resurgence began in 1994 as the growing trend toward microbreweries and brew pubs began to take hold. Today, Syracuse holds 6th place on the list of the top 10 drinking towns in the country.
The Top 10 Most Popular Beers in Syracuse
Syracuse is now for producing popular craft brews like Touch of Grey from Local 315 Brewing Company and the Spring Fling American IPA from Seneca St. Brew Pub. Despite the abundance of local and craft brew options, however, Syracuse residents (like every city in the U.S.) have their long-standing favorites.
To help you better understand the beer culture of Syracuse, we’ve taken data from BeerBoard bars to compile a list of the top 10 most popular beers in the city. Here they are:
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An American light pale lager, Miller Light is manufactured by MillerCoors based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was originally introduced in 1975 and has earned a reputation as the first light beer to see mainstream success in the United States. The beer was rebranded Miller Lite in 1998 and 10 years later three new recipes were introduced – a blonde ale, a wheat, and an amber – all marketed under the Miller Lite name in the Miller Lite Brewers Collection.
Released in 1982, Bud Light was the Budweiser brand’s flagship light beer. It clocks in at 4.2% abv with 110 calories per 12-ounce can, though it has also been released in flavored and higher alcohol versions. Bud Light Platinum features a 6% abv and is known for its translucent blue glass bottle. Flavored versions of Bud Light include Bud Light Apple, Bud Light Lime, and the new Bud Light Lime-a-Rita.
Labatt Blue Light
The Labatt Brewing Company is Belgian-owned and located in London, Ontario, Canada. It is Canada’s largest brewer and, through a series of mergers, has joined the Anheuser-Busch InBev family. In 1950, Labatt introduced Labatt 50, a 5% abv light-tasting ale named to commemorate 50 years of partnership between the grandsons of the brewer’s founder. It remained Canada’s best-selling beer until it was surpassed in 1979 by Labatt Blue, a 5% abv pale lager. Labatt Blue Light was introduced in 1983 as a light Canadian pilsner brewed with Cascade hops and a blend of malt.
A dark Irish dry stout, Guinness Draught was originally brewed by Arthur Guinness in St. Jame’s Gate in Dublin, Ireland. First brewed in 1759, Guinness Draught has become one of the most successful beer brands around the world, sold in over 120 countries and brewed in over 50. The beer’s unique flavor comes from malted barley and roasted unmalted barley, a somewhat new development that wasn’t made until the mid-20th century. It is known for its thick, creamy head that comes from mixing the beer with nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
Brewed in Golden, Colorado, Coors Light is a 4.2% abv light beer that was first produced in 1978 by the Coors Brewing Company. Coors Light is known for its “Cold Certified” label which indicates when the beer reaches the ideal drinking temperature of 39°F – the mountains on the label turn blue. Not only does Coors Light utilize this innovative packaging, but their beer is always lagered, filtered, and packaged cold to ensure the ultimate refreshment.
Blue Moon Belgian White
Though brewed in the United States, Blue Moon Belgian White was developed by Keith Villa after he obtained a Ph.D. in brewing from the University of Brussels. Villa’s beer was inspired by Belgian styles but he sought to give it a refreshing twist. His first creation, Bellyslide Wit, was so popular that fans joked that a beer that good only comes around once in a blue moon. The beer was then renamed Blue Moon Belgian White and, in keeping with the goal of ultimate refreshment, is still served with an orange slice.
Yuengling Traditional Lager
The oldest operating brewing company in America, D.G. Yuengling and Son was established in 1829 as Eagle Brewery. The original plant was destroyed by a fire in 1831 and rebuilt on the site where it currently stands. The name changed to D.G. Yuengling and Son in 1873 and it continued to thrive through the next century, even in the age of Prohibition. In 1987, Yuengling Traditional Amber Lager was reintroduced to become the company’s flagship brand. It has become so popular that in some bars (particularly in Pennsylvania) it can be ordered by just asking for a lager.
Molson Canadian is a brand of lager beer brewed by Molson Brewing, which is the Canadian division of Molson Coors Brewing Company. This specific beer was introduced in 1959 and since won multiple awards, including the Canadian Brewing Awards 2006 Gold Medal ‘North American Style Lager’, World Beer Cup 2002 Silver Medal, and 6 Time Gold Medalist at the Monde Selection.
As mention above, the Labatt Brewing Company is Belgian-owned and located in London, Ontario, Canada. Labatt Blue is a 5% abv pale lager and is well-known in Canada for being one of the most popular selling beers. Worldwide, it is known as the best-selling Canadian beer. Its distinct bottle design is noticeable for being a can having a twist off cap.
Released in 1896, the original Michelob recipe was called a “draught beer for connoisseurs” by manufacturer Anheuser-Busch. In the years since, the company tested multiple versions including a Michelob Honey Lager and a Michelob Pale Ale, but none were particularly successful until the release of Michelob Ultra in 2002. The recipe is now available in several different flavors that are formulated to be low in calories and carbs. Try Michelob Ultra Pomegranate Raspberry or Michelob Ultra Cactus Lime.
Any successful bar or restaurant adopts the attitude that the customer is always right, so why shouldn’t yours make an effort to give customers what they want? Using BeerBoard’s innovative technology, you can gain valuable insight to guide your purchasing decisions and maximize your sales and profits. Contact us today to see what we can do for your Syracuse bar or restaurant!