The Good Shepherds Brewing Co.

Garrett Shepherd serves a beer to musician Brian Clare in 2015 at The Good Shepherds Brewing Co. in Auburn.

The Citizen file

A new chapter in the story of a local brewery will begin in a few months when The Good Shepherds Brewing Co. moves into the old Goss building (aka PBJ on the Corner). Coming on the heels of the Prison City Pub and Brewery’s expansion, it bodes well for the local market. Brewing beer, of course, is nothing new to Auburn or this region of the country. The beer business is actually making a return home. As James Fenimore Cooper recalled in his "Reminiscences of Mid-Victorian Cooperstown," in the 19th century, “the 'hop was king,' and the whole countryside was one great hop yard, and beautiful."

Auburn was no exception. In the 1837 atlas of the city drawn by famed architectural educator John Hagaman, there are several breweries and distilleries located along the river. Throughout the rest of the 1800s and into the next century, brewing was a viable and competitive business in Auburn. This era peaked in 1874 with the construction of the Fanning Brewery at 10 Garden St., a facility with a 30,000-barrels-a-year capacity. Subsequent to Fanning’s, the site was occupied by the New York State Brewing Co., and then the Lake Shore Malt House. Various factors contributed to the decline of the small-scale brewery, and by 1980 there were less than 100 in the entire country. Since then the market has slowly changed gears and there are currently almost 2,000 breweries in the United States.

Craft beer has become a profitable commodity in the United State over the past 10 years.

It actually leads all beverage alcohol segments in dollar sales growth, and continues to take shares from wine, and major-label and import beers. In 2013, beer sales trends overtook wine and spirits for the first time since 2008, and remains higher.

Cayuga County has a strong tourism economy, supported by several National Historic Landmark historic sites, a winery industry, and recreation associated with the lakes. According to the county tourism office, annual visitors to the county spend over $100 million in the hospitality industry, with $21 million of the total spent in the food and beverage sector. Some local brewers state anecdotally that 60 percent of their beer customers come from outside the county. Furthermore, accommodation and food service jobs have grown nearly 5 percent since 2007. Clearly the local brewer is becoming a strong support for this sector of our economy.

So how can we respond to this economic bright spot? Fortunately, there is a New York state alcoholic beverage producer tax credit available for independent brewers. It amounts to $0.14 per gallon for the first 500,000 gallons. Given the clear benefit to the local economy, an incremental supplement to this tax credit of a few cents per gallon by the city or the county might help spur further growth.

Either way, it’s good to see Auburn brewing again.

Auburn resident Andrew Roblee can be reached at andyroblee@yahoo.com.

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