Weekly Feature

2017-05-18 / Front Page

Kathy Hochul kicks off Craft Beer Week


Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul kicks off Craft Beer Week with a visit to 42 North Brewing Co. in East Aurora. Hochul is accompanied by Clay Keel, chief brewing officer for 42 North. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul kicks off Craft Beer Week with a visit to 42 North Brewing Co. in East Aurora. Hochul is accompanied by Clay Keel, chief brewing officer for 42 North. The 42 North Brewing Company in East Aurora received a special visit from Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul as she helped kick off Craft Beer Week on Monday.

The week, which is sponsored by the Brewers Association, allows small craft breweries an opportunity to share their beer and educate people about the craft of brewing.

Hochul was given a tour of the brewery from co-owner John Cimperman, who pointed out the unique features of the brewery, including the reclaimed bricks and wood salvaged from the 2014 snowstorm. Cimperman also showed Hochul the outdoor beer garden, where he says there are plans to grow hops along a wall. Hochul praised Cimperman for his efforts.

“They have exceeded all expectations. The synergy that’s created in the downtown area, I’ve seen this all over the state of New York,” said Hochul. “It’s great that East Aurora could continue reimagining itself.”

Hochul also discussed the growing craft beer industry. In 2011, Hochul said, New York had 50 craft breweries. Since then, the number has grown to 348 breweries, a 500 percent increase. Hochul credits the growth to initiatives set in motion by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She explained how the governor removed barriers put in place almost a century ago during Prohibition.

“We reached out to people who were thinking about doing this and found out what’s in the way,” she said. “So our state alcohol and liquor authority got involved and gave out some tax incentives.” Hochul says the boost in breweries is also having a positive impact on the tourism industry across the state.

“Our tourism numbers just came in for 2016, and they are off the charts. It’s our third consecutive year of exceeding $100 billion,” she said, adding that people want to visit places with multiple attractions.

“It’s not just the brewery but a children’s museum, Roycroft; everything sort of fits together. It’s an important part of bringing back the upstate economy, investing in tourism destinations, and craft breweries are certainly on that list.”

Along with increased tourism, Hochul said the state is working to build a better relationship with craft brewers and farmers. She says the interest in craft beer could lead to farmers growing hops on their land.

“I think this industry is really in its infant stages. This is only going to take off and increase more demand for hops.”

Cimperman agrees, adding that New York has a lot of perks for those looking to enter the craft industry.

“The market’s not saturated [with breweries]. In Oregon, five out of every 10 beers are locally produced. In New York state, it’s one out of 10.”

Hochul also touched on Uber, which is set to debut early this summer, and how it would benefit the breweries across the area.

“At 42 North, many of the customers come here on weekends from the City of Buffalo. Just think if they could Uber a ride here and back.”

For Cimperman, the addition of Uber will be a game-changer to his business.

“In downtown Buffalo, you may be able to find a cab. In East Aurora, you can’t. That’s not even an option. And if you look at our taproom on weekends, it’s all below the age of 35, and most of them are coming in from the city, which is great. This will give them another option.”

He also spoke about plans for expanding the brewery, which includes increasing capacity of the building by 30 percent.

“We’re currently brewing 3,000 barrels; we’d like to get that up to [6,000] to 7,000 in the next two years.”

Cimperman said he is hopeful about the future of his business and of craft breweries across the state.

“We are creating production jobs, we are creating hospitality jobs, and we’re also supporting agriculture jobs. And not many industries can have so many positive effects in so many different job categories.”

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