A few years ago, Kevin Czebiniak's plan to leave well paying jobs in sales behind and start a craft brewery in his Camillus garage would have sounded a little crazy - but lately craft beer is a fast growing industry in upstate New York. Czebiniak is excited for the opportunity to grow Westcott Brewing Company and says he is on track to be a licensed brewery in New York sometime in the next 3-6 months.
"We're know for our basketball team but I want us to be known for our beer too - all over," said Czebiniak.
On Monday, Czebiniak and other Syracuse area craft brewers met with Congressman Dan Maffei at empire brewing company in Syracuse. Twenty years ago their were six breweries in New York State. Now there are 140. Thanks to Empire Brewing Company, Middle Ages Brewery, Saranac, Brewery Ommegang and others, Central New York has become nationally recognized for its craft beer scene. Maffei and the brewers talked about reducing the tax burden on small breweries and how to promote local beers.
"We're creating jobs, we're increasing the tax base, we're creating agri-tourism," said David Katleski from Empire Brewing Company. "It's kind of like where the wine industry was 30 years ago."
Maffei cited Central New York as one of the real brewing success stories in the U.S. and across the globe. He said he wants to be sure the industry can continue to grow.
Czebiniak is waiting to be licensed so bars can serve Westcott Brewing Company beers but is so busy preparing that he barely sleeps. Brewing is a complicated process, not unlike chemistry. Czebiniak's used a whiteboard to keep track of his formulas until the equations to spilled over onto the office windows
"It's a lot of work but I think we finally found the recipe that we have - which is actually bottling right now," said Czebiniak.