Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State is now home to 400 breweries, surpassing the previous record of 393 breweries set in 1876. The number of breweries has skyrocketed in New York since Governor Cuomo hosted the state’s first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit in 2012, with 243 new breweries obtaining licenses, and beer being brewed in 57 of the state’s 62 counties. Additionally, 202 new farm brewery licenses have been issued since the Governor’s farm brewery law went into effect on January 1, 2013.
“Once one of the largest producers of beer in the country, New York continues to lower the costs of business by modernizing laws and rolling back red tape to restore the Empire State as the standing leader in the craft beer manufacturing industry,” Governor Cuomo said. “The enormous growth New York’s craft beverage sector has experienced in recent years is a testament to the innovation, entrepreneurship and hard work of our brewers, who are creating jobs, driving tourism, helping our local farms, and instilling pride in every corner of this great state.”
“Existence of craft breweries telegraphs that downtowns are vibrant places to gather and socialize,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The upstate resurgence is visible in brewing rooms across the state – young entrepreneurs living their dreams, new production jobs in formerly abandoned buildings, and farms that have new markets for their products. The hundreds of brewers across the State are boosting our economy with an increase in jobs and visitors. I look forward to celebrating their continued success for years to come.”
On January 1, 2013 the Governor’s farm brewery law went into effect, mirroring the highly successful 1976 Farm Winery Act that lead to the tremendous growth of wineries and grape production throughout New York. The new farm brewery license allows craft breweries that use ingredients grown in New York to conduct onsite tastings, open restaurants, engage in self-distribution, and open up to five no-fee off-site branch stores anywhere in the state. In just five years, 202 licenses have been issued, in addition to 29 farm brewery branch stores with tasting rooms now operating throughout New York.
The farm brewery law has also led to a resurgence in New York’s hop and barley production. According to Cornell University, in response to a rising demand for locally sourced agriculture, the acreage of hops grown in New York nearly doubled from 2014 to 2016, while the acreage of malting barley increased by 374 percent over the same two-year period. New York is also now home to thirteen malt houses, all of which have opened following the demand generated by the new farm brewery license. These have also generated employment and economic development for supporting industries, including bottling, construction, freight, printing and advertising, as well as growing agri-tourism in the state, augmenting New York’s $100 billion tourism industry.
A summary of recent legislative and regulatory changes supporting New York’s brewing industry can be found here.
New York’s Storied History of Beer
The first commercial brewery in Colonial America opened in Manhattan in 1632, after settlers quickly realized the state’s climate was ideal for growing hops and barley. New York’s agriculture sector expanded throughout the 18th century and received a significant boost when the Erie Canal opened in 1825, helping promote the use of locally grown ingredients in beer production – a strong suit of New York’s craft beverage industry today. Later in the 19th century the state benefited from an influx of English, German and Irish immigrants who brought with them brewing skills that propelled New York into a thriving beverage boom. Between 1840 and 1900, New York grew more hops and brewed more beer than anywhere else in the country, with the number of breweries peaking in 1876 at 393.
By the close of the 19th century, developments in pasteurization, refrigeration, rail transport and bottling shifted the brewing industry from small-scale production for local consumption to an industry dominated by enormous breweries. By 1910, the number of brewers in the state fell to 194, while an epidemic of downy mildew devastated the state’s hop production, followed by the Prohibition in 1920, which finally killed off the industry. When beer production was legalized following the 21st Amendment in 1933, only a small handful of breweries in the state reopened.
Today, a new generation of entrepreneurs are reviving New York’s position as a leader in craft brewing. In October 2012, Governor Cuomo hosted the state’s first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit, bringing together dozens of beer, wine, cider, and spirits producers, as well as farmers, researchers, industry officials, and tourism experts, who discussed with state officials, specific legislative and regulatory issues facing the beverage industry. Immediately following the Summit, the Governor implemented a host of regulatory changes to spur growth in the craft beverage industry, in addition to launching an aggressive marketing campaign to capitalize on the “buy local” movement.
Additionally, institutions including Cornell University, SUNY Morrisville, the Geneva Experiment Station and Hartwick College’s Center for Craft Food and Beverage are now engaged in research and offering testing of barely, malt and beer quality, while colleges including Erie Community College, Niagara Community College, the Culinary Institute of America, Schenectady Community College, Morrisville and Hartwick now have programs to train New York’s next generation of brewers.
Senator Rich Funke, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation said, “The growth of craft breweries is a vital part of our economy in upstate New York, because it drives tourism, creates jobs and boosts the local economy. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues in the legislature and Governor Cuomo to modernize and streamline our laws to incentivize more entrepreneurs to open breweries here and to have led the charge to provide the funding necessary to promote them. These efforts are clearly paying off now that we have broken the all-time record for the number of breweries operating across our state, and the future looks even brighter still.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, “As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have been working with craft beverage producers to not only expand the industry, but also to connect them with New York State’s hardworking farmers who grow the very ingredients needed to ‘craft’ the perfect tasting beverage. I would like to thank the Governor and Commissioner Ball for being partners in the effort to support craft beverage producers. By continuing to work together, this already booming industry will reach even greater heights and in turn, continue to create jobs and boost economies across the state.”
Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell, Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development said, “Varied tastes have finally been satisfied with a varied selection in New York State. For every New Yorker, there’s a New York beer made just for them. I’m proud that we have now hit a record of 400 breweries, which is a number sure to continue growing due to overwhelming demand. With the advantages of social media and New York State’s government on their side, some of our most modestly sized craft breweries are capable of competing with some of the biggest companies in the industry. Something that makes us all very hoppy…I mean happy.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, “The tremendous rise in craft breweries has been a welcome sign to many communities across the state. These businesses help support our agricultural and tourism industries, job creation and downtown revitalization. I am excited to join the Governor and our fantastic brewers in celebrating this milestone.”
New York State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley said, “By working hand-in-hand with the industry to create new licenses, streamline the approval process and reform outdated regulations, Governor Cuomo has helped to usher in a revival of craft beer manufacturing in New York. With every corner of our state now home to a craft brewery, all New Yorkers have ready access to high quality, locally sourced and produced craft beer.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, “Through new licenses, significant reforms and strategic promotion of New York’s craft beverage sector, Governor Cuomo has opened the door to a new era of entrepreneurs, eager to make their mark in the industry. This renaissance in craft brewing is having a ripple effect on the growth of industries and economies across the state, particularly agriculture. High-quality beer demands high-quality products and brewers are finding them at their local farms.”
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has reduced regulatory red tape and established licenses and programs that have promoted tremendous growth of the state’s craft beer industry. Thanks to these reforms, New York State’s craft brewers are creating jobs, supporting regional economies and boosting tourism statewide.”
Paul Leone, Executive Director, New York State Brewers Association said “When I was hired as the first Executive Director of the New York State Brewers Association in 2013, there were less than 200 breweries in the state. Today we celebrate 400 and counting, and continue to march towards 500 or more within the next two years. The vast majority of these breweries are small manufacturing businesses that support their local communities and create thousands of jobs across the entire state. As a whole, the brewing industry in New York has contributed $4 billion to the state’s economy. This doesn’t happen without the passion and dedication of New York State brewers that are making incredible beer every day, and the unprecedented support from Governor Cuomo and state legislators who continue to cut red tape, provide opportunities for growth, and pass meaningful legislation for the brewing industry. For that we say thank you, and cheers to New York State beer.”
David Katleski, Co-Founder & President Emeritus of the New York State Brewers Association, and President & CEO of Empire Brewing Company said, “This relevant milestone is unprecedented in New York State’s rich brewing history. We in the brewing industry should take a moment and reflect on all who assisted us over the years to overcome the obstacles associated with the growth of our industry. 400 Congratulatory Cheers! to a remarkable accomplishment and special thanks to our Governor and his administration who listened to our challenges and responded with change to allow for this growth.”
Fred Matt, President of New York State Brewers Association and FX Matt Brewing Company in Utica, Mohawk Valley said, “As President of the New York State Brewers Association and F.X. Matt Brewing Company (130-year-old family brewery) we are experiencing tremendous growth in an industry that at one point was down to only 5 breweries in New York. Under Governor Cuomo’s support our industry has thrived and grown to over 400 breweries. Our growth is creating jobs both in our breweries and supporting industry suppliers (including construction, bottles, cans and packaging supplies), leading the resurgence in hop and barley production, developing educational opportunities for New York State students and driving agritourism. Governor Cuomo’s support of our industry is driving economic growth in our state and making New York State the place to come for great beer.”
Steve Hindy, Founder, Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, New York City said, “When I started Brooklyn Brewery, I marveled at the incredible brewing history of New York State. It’s amazing to think that 30 years later, there are more breweries than ever in the Empire State. It’s a tribute to New York entrepreneurship and the support and encouragement we have gotten from Governor Cuomo and the Legislature.”
John Urlaub, Founder and Owner of Rohrbach Brewing Co. in Rochester, Finger Lakes said, “New York State is the envy of the craft beer industry in the United States. The Governor and legislature have actually worked together with industry leaders to grow craft beer production in the state, not hold it back. The opening of the 400th brewery in New York State is truly a momentous occasion. Cheers to all craft brewers in New York.”
Richard Vandenburgh, Co-Founder of The Greenport Brewing Company in Greenport, Long Island said, “It is amazing to think of where we have come to see 400 craft breweries in New York State. Being a part of the craft brewery segment on Long Island, which is recognized as one of the state’s leading entrepreneurial movements, is extremely rewarding. The integration of effective government partnership with the independent ‘can-do’ attitude of hard working brewers with a passion for their craft has been a winning formula. The success of our growth on Long Island and throughout the state is in no small measure due to the support of the Governor and his willingness to understand that such growth is directly tied to our ability to reinvest in our craft, create sustainable jobs, build stronger community ties and foster agricultural, visitor and tourism partnerships. This historic milestone puts us yet again on the national map of ‘how to do it right’ when looking at how effective governance, good economic stewardship and innovative thinking come together in a positive way. We celebrate our Craft Brewers and the more than 400 stories of individual success through this collective effort. I raise my glass to the Governor and everyone else who helped make it possible – Cheers!”
Christopher Ericson, Vice President of the New York State Brewers Association and Owner and Brewmaster of Lake Placid Brewery in Lake Placid, North Country said, “For over 21 years we have been brewing world class craft beer in New York, and we have seen the support from Albany, especially Governor Cuomo, radically change the brewing environment in the state. These changes have allowed us to grow and expand, and have fostered the overall development of NY craft beer which would have never been possible in years past.”
Carrie Blackmore, President & Co-Founder of Good Nature Farm Brewery in Hamilton, Central New York said, “When Good Nature started, fewer than seven years ago, there were 60 breweries in New York State. There was no such thing as a farm brewery. There were no malt houses, and fewer than 20 acres of hops under cultivation. Look at us now! Breweries are growing agriculture, jobs, and tourism in our state. This milestone is testament to the quality of the beer we produce, and to our cultural & economic impact. We are proud to brew all our beers under our farm brewery license, and are grateful for all the support our industry has received.
Jeremy Cowan, Owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park, Capital Region said, “Incredible to think that in the five years since we opened our production facility (and 21 years in the beer business), four times more breweries have now opened in New York State. Now more than ever, we need to work together to expand the awareness and demand for craft beer so we can support all these creative and entrepreneurial small businesses. We are still a small percentage of the overall beer market with so much room to grow – a great time to get there together now!”
Nikki Cavanaugh, Co- Owner of Rushing Duck Brewing Company LLC in Chester, Mid-Hudson Valley said, “The industry has grown rapidly in the last few years bringing breweries to all regions of the state, especially the Hudson Valley. The Governor’s efforts to push through legislation has enabled our industry, and the tourism around our industry, to flourish and provide New Yorkers with locally made and sourced beer.”
Ethan Cox, President of Community Beer Works in Buffalo, Western New York said, “It’s deeply gratifying to be a brewer in New York State as we acknowledge and celebrate this historic achievement. The acute growth of the last six years is evident in Western New York, where breweries have increased from just five in early 2012 (including ours) to well over 25 today, with at least another half-dozen in planning. Our state is increasingly seen as a leader by both brewers and craft enthusiasts. So, cheers, to New York State beers & breweries!”
Kristen Lyons, Owner of Binghamton Brewing Company in Johnson City, Southern Tier said, “Over half the breweries that brought us to this historic milestone of craft beer producers are Farm Breweries – local businesses that exist thanks to legislation championed by Governor Cuomo and State leaders. This demonstrates New York State’s continued success in craft beer and agriculture.”
The Governor’s reforms have led to a nearly 290 percent increase in the number of breweries since the Governor’s first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit in 2012, growing from 103 in 2012 to 400 today. This includes 10 large breweries, 44 restaurant breweries, 151 farm breweries, 144 microbreweries, and 51 breweries that hold both farm and micro brewing licenses.