Subscribe for 33¢ / day

AUBURN | Prison City Pub & Brewery will fulfill its five-year plan in about two.

Dawn and Marc Schulz, the owners of the Auburn brewpub, were joined there Wednesday morning by Auburn Mayor Michael Quill to announce that Prison City will open a new production facility and tasting room downtown.

The facility would serve as a year-round anchor tenant for the city's proposed Riverside Regional Public Market. Located along the Owasco River in the city's Market Street Park area, the market would also become the new home of the Auburn Farmers Market and feature a Finger Lakes culinary center and demonstration kitchen, as well as other agri-tourism initiatives.

The market is one point of the city's Downtown Revitalization Initiative proposal, which it presented to the public last week after submitting the proposal to the state for consideration of a $10 million grant.

Like the market itself, Prison City's plans for its new facility are subject to whether Auburn is named the winner of the grant competition at the end of June. Both the facility's specific location and timeline have yet to be determined for that reason, the Schulzes said.

However, they continued, the facility will be built regardless — the grant would simply see it built faster. 

"This is something that we want to see happen very quickly," Marc said. "This was something that was a five-year plan for Prison City Pub & Brewery. It was not a two-year plan. So we're very excited about that."

If Auburn isn't awarded the DRI grant and plans for the regional market change, the Schulzes said they would widen their site search from the Market Street Park area to the whole city of Auburn. They'd also apply for other state grants that could help fund it, they said.

The Schulzes, who recently announced they'll open The Copper Pig barbecue restaurant in the former Daut's in June, revealed several other details of their brewing facility Wednesday. It will expand Prison City's annual production from 400 barrels to, eventually, 7,000.

"We need the capacity," Marc said. "We can't make any more beer here."

The 4,000-to-7,000-square-foot facility will also create between 22 and 25 full-time jobs, most of which will be in beer production, the Schulzes said.

Many other aspects of the facility will meet demands Prison City has encountered since opening in December 2014:

• A canning line and a bottling line, with the latter focusing on brewer Ben Maeso's acclaimed sours and barrel-aged beers. The Schulzes estimate 55 to 60 percent of Prison City's patronage is from outside Auburn, and the brewpub is often unable to accommodate their requests for take-home servings of Maeso's beer due to scarcity.

• Foeders and barrels from Finger Lakes wineries to grow Prison City's barrel-aging program.

Prison City Pub & Brewery

Ben Maeso gets help from his brother Dan Maeso with mashing grains at Prison City Pub & Brewery in Auburn July 16, 2015.

• A pilot brewing system for home-brewers to learn how to practice their craft commercially. Prison City has been asked hundreds of times to open its current facility to home-brewers, the Schulzes said, but it's too small to host them.

• The tasting room will allow Prison City to welcome the wedding parties and other groups that it's had to turn down due to its size, the Schulzes said.

• Collaboration beers with other New York breweries in Auburn. Maeso has begun making beers with area breweries, such as Stoneyard in Brockport and Swiftwater in Rochester — but always at their locations, the Schulzes said.

• Increased production of Prison City's Auburn-themed beers, including Seward's Folly, Doubledays amber ale, Catch Me If You Can blonde ale and an upcoming strawberry beer named after Harriet Tubman. The facility will mass-produce Maeso's established beers, like the award-winning Bleek Worden Belgian pale ale, Straight Outta Locash porter and more. Meanwhile, the pub's brewing space will remain open for small batches and experiments, such as the Cocoa Puff-flavored Puff Puff Shiv brown ale.

The overall 1,650-percent production increase will also allow Prison City to fulfill requests to pour its beer at bars in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts and more, the Schulzes said.

Though Prison City's kegs will ship out from the city, its bottles and cans won't, the Schulzes said. That's because the focus of their new production facility, like that of their hit brewpub, will be on bringing people to Auburn.

"We're not looking to take over the world," Marc said. "We're just looking to promote the city of Auburn."

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

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


Features editor for The Citizen.