State pushes Empire Brewing into China market

Empire Brewing Company is heading for a larger market than ever.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this week announced that the Cazenovia company, the state's largest farm brewery, has become the first officially licensed "I ❤ New York" beer and will be distributed throughout China under Empire's "Two Dragons" label.

The beer will be branded with the "I ❤ New York" tourism logo to help call attention to the growing number of craft breweries and agritourism destinations in New York State. It is projected to arrive in China in February.

"New York's thriving, world-renowned craft beverage industry is creating new jobs and driving economic growth across the state, and this unique partnership will introduce one of our finest New York products to a global audience," Cuomo said in his announcement. "The iconic 'I ❤ New York' logo will promote the high quality of New York's food and beverage products and attract more visitors to craft beverage breweries, growing the industry and increasing tourism revenue across the state."

Two Dragons is an ale-style beer brewed with New York State hops and Chinese black tea. Empire Brewing Company owner David Katleski says he was inspired during a trip to China to combine the art of American craft brewing techniques with the history and precision of Chinese tea making. Initially designed for the Chinese market, the beer also is being distributed into Empire Brewing’s New York, New Jersey and Delaware distribution network.

The beer is being produced in Empire's new brewing facility in Cazenovia, about 20 miles southeast of Syracuse, supported by state funding from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Te new Farmstead Brewery covers 42,000 square feet. It will allow Empire to expand production from 4,500 barrels per year to 17,000 barrels in year one, and 20,000 barrels by year three.

Since 2011, the state has implemented a number of significant reforms and expanded programs to grow the craft beverage industry, including launching a $60 million statewide promotional campaign and hosting wine, beer and spirits summits across the state. New York now is home to more than 900 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries.

The number of farm wineries has increased from 195 in 2010 to 316 today; the number of microbreweries from 40 in 2010 to 154; the number of farm distilleries from 10 in 2010 to 98 today. Two new licenses have been created since 2011 -- the farm brewery license in 2013 and the farm cidery license in 2014. New York now is home to 132 farm breweries and 24 farm cideries.

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