Located in downtown Binghamton, NY is Water Street Brewing Company. Not only is it currently the only operating brewery you can visit in Binghamton; but they also serve a fine array of food, using fresh local ingredients. I had a chance to talk to Michele, the co-owner, to get more information on the establishment.
Water Street Brewing is owned and operated by John and Michele Bleichert, a husband and wife team. John is the brewer and started homebrewing many years before they opened Water Street in March of 2012. Michele takes care of the business end of things and manages the kitchen side as well.
The brewery / restaurant has a nice professional feel to it which I think benefits the area it is in. They also have a surprisingly diverse wine list, many of which are local New York State wines. If you check out the website you can view the extensive list of local farms, dairies, wineries, etc. that they source the ingredients from. It is nice to see this information proudly displayed, letting people know where their food is coming from.
John currently brews on a seven barrel system. When I visited, all of the beer was sold at this location only. However, as I discovered on Facebook, other establishments are now serving their beer. This is a great idea and will give them even more positive exposure. John prefers creating English Style Ales and I think that is best exemplified in beers like the ESB and Porter. Their most popular beer is the Hefeweizen which was not available at the time of my visit.
Obviously, the name of the brewery reflects its location on Water Street. It made business sense to open up a restaurant within the brewery and I think it works well. The restaurant certainly helps draw in people who are looking to do more than just taste and purchase beer. The atmosphere is clean and stylish and you are greeted by the friendly staff. Also, all the tanks are right out in the open where you can see them. There are no TVs which is a nice touch and makes the brewery a more conducive place for conversations.
A sample of five beers will cost you $6.00. If you wish to try the small batch beers that John creates, you must order them separately as they do not come in sampling sizes. All the lines from the taps go right back to the tanks with the exception of the small batch beers which come from kegs.
Here are the beers that I was able to try while visiting:
- 5.2% ABV
- Good malt character, very traditional.
- 5.1% ABV
- Rich rye character with a bright pepper finish.
- 8.7% ABV
- Diverse malt character. Very strong and seemed slightly sour.
- Brown Ale
- 5.5% ABV
- Has a sweet fig-like finish.
- 6.5% ABV
- Traditional British style with a good amount of bitterness.
- 5.3% ABV
- Roasted Caramel malts, toasty and very dark.
- English Ordinary Bitter
- 5.1% ABV
- A nice ESB. The malt is from the Farmhouse malt farm in Newark Valley, NY.
Overall, I think Water Street Brewing Company is doing an excellent job. Mixing locally sourced food with great beer brings in more customers which of course helps keep the beer flowing! Every day they have new and exciting meal specials which you can read about on their Facebook page. The beer itself is very well made and John offers a wide selection of traditional beer styles. The small batch brews he makes may stray more from the classic styles and allow for some experimentation. If you are looking for a good meal and a well-made pint then be sure to stop in!
Update: September 23rd, 2016
It had been awhile since we last visited Water Street Brewing, therefore a stop was in order while on vacation. There have only been a few changes of note, but we thought it would still be interesting to share the diverse beers that the brewery had on tap.
- 6.2% ABV
- Munich Helles brewed to bock strength
- Beautiful malty beer that is very much to style.
- 5.0% ABV
- Bavarian wheat ale brewed with 50% malted wheat
- Complex, not just banana and clove notes. Quite well made.
- 4.8% ABV
- American amber ale brewed with Northern Brewer hops
- The malt and hops balance really well here.
- 6.5% ABV
- Rye cream ale brewed with American Nugget hops
- Super soft and flavorful. The rye spice notes feature prominently.
- 5.2% ABV
- Lager malt and Tettnanger hops fermented with an ale yeast
- Spicy; the hops character comes forward and makes for a unique flavor profile.
- 6.8% ABV
- Belgian Golden Ale
- Belgian yeast aroma dominates upfront. Spicy, with a great finish.
- 7.1% ABV
- Malty Scottish wee heavy
- Sweet, with what appears to be very little hop presence, but brewed to style.
- 9.6% ABV
- Super strong and fruity. Quite a high ABV beer and perfect for cold winter nights.
- 8.8% ABV
- Imperial red rye ale
- Bright malty start with a bit of sweetness, though it finishes dry.
- 5.5% ABV
- Fresh hop aroma with a lingering finish. More of a piney resin IPA then a juicy one.
- 5% ABV
- Dry stout brewed with roasted wheat
- Simple and reserved, light body with just a slight roast character.
The one thing I noticed as we went through our tasting is that they were more focused on producing lighter colored beers, at least at the time of our visit. John is crafting very traditional European style ales that should please a wide range of palates. I appreciate the balance that he brings to his beer, while not overloading the senses with higher alcohol concoctions.
In other brewery news, Water Street now has a collection of board games, inviting the visitor to hang out for a bit and get involved in some gaming. They also host a regular yoga night which includes homemade pretzels for your post-workout carb cravings. Local artists rotate their creations on a monthly basis so you never know what kind of interesting art will appear on the walls. For those with their own artistic talents, painting classes are occasionally scheduled as well.
It was great to have a chance to stop back at Water Street Brewing while visiting Binghamton. I enjoy John’s more traditional approach to beer and love the fact that they are bringing in activities for customers to enjoy while at the brewery. Now that they are kegging and distributing to some of the surrounding counties, their beer may soon be available at a tap near you!
Speaking of Binghamton, NY; did you know there are two more breweries set to open soon? Black Heart Brewery and Galaxy Brewing Company will add some friendly competition to the area. I look forward to writing future reviews when they open and hope to see some synergistic collaborations between the breweries.
Water Street Brewing Company
168 Water Street Binghamton, NY, 13901
Visited July 12, 2013, Revisited September 23, 2016
Blog post written by Thomas Andersen.