Cayuga County Craft has kicked. Long flow Cayuga County Craft.

The Citizen first launched Cayuga County Craft as an auburnpub.com blog in October. The idea was to create a space where we could write about craft beer and other beverages in a less-than-newsy way, while also featuring contributions by the producers of those beverages themselves. With all its high-ABV styles and all its colorful inside-joke names, we know craft beer can be dauntingly heavy on options. So we wanted to curate them and educate you.

As it turns out, though, Cayuga County's four breweries were a little too busy making and moving beer to write about it. By the time 2017 arrived, the Cayuga County Craft blog had all but dried up.

But I still want to write about craft beer in a less-than-newsy way. So The Citizen is repurposing Cayuga County Craft as a monthly column in the paper's Lake Life section.

The mission will remain the same: curate and educate. I'll cover what's new at Cayuga County's four breweries: The Good Shepherds Brewing Co. and Prison City Pub & Brewery in Auburn, Lunkenheimer Craft Brewing in Weedsport and Aurora Ale & Lager Co. in King Ferry. We'll also fold in downtown bottle shop and home to The Cleanest Floors in Town® Thirsty Pug Craft Beer Market. Sometimes Cayuga County Craft will be newsy, sometimes it'll be less so, but it'll always be your guide to what's going on in your backyard's craft beer scene.

So here's what's going on:

Lunkenheimer Craft Brewing

Derric Slocum and Kristen Lunkenheimer-Slocum's North Seneca Street brewery took four medals at the Denver International Beer Competition April 1-2.

The Beer Judge Certification Program-certified judges gave:

• A gold to Scottish Export (a malty, traditional Scottish-style ale with toasty and biscuity characteristics; 6.2 ABV)

• A silver to Buster (the brewery's crisp, dry Kölsch, which is always on tap there and named after Derric's grandfather Buster Waller; 5.4 ABV)

• A bronze to Black Cap Wheat (a wheat beer with 64-percent New York state barley and handpicked black cap berries added, made start-to-finish by assistant brewer Ryan Bond; 4.7 ABV)

• And a bronze to its cream ale (so fresh the Slocums haven't even put its tasting notes together yet; 4.3 ABV. Also, a version aged on vanilla beans is now on nitro at the brewery.)

It's the second award for Buster, which was one of three Lunkenheimer beers recognized by the inaugural Raise a Glass International Beer Competition in Rochester in October. It silvered there, too.

"This recognition emphasizes our focus on brewing high-quality brews and provides our passion for brewing something visible and tangible not only to ourselves, but to the public and our customers," Kristen said in an email. "Our processes are getting dialed and we are creating delicious, to-style brews (and that is not just coming from our opinions, but the judges think so, too)."

If you're looking to try Buster, nitro vanilla bean cream ale or any of Lunkenheimer's other beers, the Weedsport brewery just added another way to do so: cans.

It'll christen the machine, which can make 32-ounce Crowlers or 16- or 12-ounce cans, with a celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Syracuse radio station KROCK will broadcast live from the brewery, and bring a yard-sized beer pong game.

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But the real reason to stop by? Lunkenheimer will tap the habanero version of its delectable Peanut Butter Brown Ale, as well as debut its first try at the feverishly popular New England-style IPA.

Prison City Pub & Brewery

Brewer Ben Maeso and owners Dawn and Marc Schulz recently returned from the annual Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. They spent the week at seminars, keynotes and other events, while also meeting with suppliers and equipment manufacturers, and discussing the New York craft beer scene at a meeting of the state Brewers Association.

Hopheads rejoice: The Auburn brewpub recently collaborated with Elmira's Upstate Brewing Co. on an IPA, fittingly titled Riot in Upstate. And Mass Riot — Prison City's New England-style IPA that took No. 1 of 247 in Paste Magazine's annual blind tasting of the style last summer — returns April 22. One hundred Crowlers will be available when the brewpub opens at 11:30 a.m.

Prison City also took receipt this week of new tanks to complete its expansion into the basement of its 28 State St. building. Which means more Mass Riot (and maybe more Striped Cow milk stout? Please?)

Aurora Ale & Lager Co.

Down in King Ferry, Mark Grimaldi and Joe Shelton continue to bring the ruckus with a new spate of Wu-Tang-inspired beer names (which really warrants its own edition of Cayuga County Craft someday). The newest is the just-released Rakau the Chef, a double IPA showcasing the titular New Zealand hop.

Also on tap is a bourbon barrel-aged version of Aurora's The STZA imperial stout, and a dark and sour saison. Grimaldi and Shelton also added a single-origin cold brew from Forty Weight Coffee Roasters in Ithaca to the latter, which they said "turned out great and people are still asking for it."

The King Ferry brewery recently installed a custom-designed unitank (a fermenter and brite tank in one), which they said will ramp up their production. On deck is a new dry-hopped pale ale made with Zeus hops from New York state and, of course, Goseface Killah

Thirsty Pug Craft Beer Market

Mike Sigona recently expanded the sour section of his Genesee Center bottle shop; it now has more than 80 options. He also plans to install more taps, going from six to nine.

No word yet whether the floors will get even cleaner.

The Good Shepherds Brewing Co.

The Citizen recently featured brewer Garrett Shepherd's big impending move across downtown Auburn to the Goss Building, site of the former PBJ on the Corner women's clothing store.

Check out that story here on auburnpub.com.


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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.


I'm the features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com, and have been here since 2006. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.