**Note – The brewery changed names and is now known as the Eastwood Brewing Company. This change has been reflected in the web links but the article remains the same until I get out there for a return visit!
Syracuse, NY was once known as the brewing capital of upstate New York. After prohibition killed off most local breweries, it took many years before brewing was brought back to the city. Today, Syracuse plays host to a small handful of breweries with even more on the way. The latest brewery, Double Barrel Brewing Company, is our stop for today. Will this brewery be a slam-dunk, earning its place in Syracuse’s proud brewing heritage?
Double Barrel Brewing Company opened its doors in late 2013 and is run by Pete Kirkgasser. Pete had been homebrewing for over twenty years before taking the plunge and starting his own commercial brewery. His years of experience are reflected in the diversity of styles that are produced at the brewery. First, a look at the beer available to try while we visited.
- 5.5% ABV
- Nice full bodied beer, easy drinking with an interesting nut flavor.
- I tasted perhaps a hint of licorice in this beer.
- 5% ABV
- Cloudy appearance as it is unfiltered.
- Excellent use of hops with a sweet beginning and pleasant bitter finish.
- 5.5% ABV
- Traditional wheat beer with lots of hops.
- Loads of hops dominate the palate with a good wheat backbone.
- 7% ABV
- 100% Nugget hops.
- Very smooth and creamy; hops have mellowed a lot since New Year’s release.
- 6.4% ABV
- Light hop aroma, from New Year’s so hops are not as fresh.
- Burnt toast and hop notes in flavor, nice complex finish.
The brewery itself is tucked away in the back of a retail plaza. You might think you are in the wrong area but just look for the brewery sign in front of the entrance. Upon walking through the door, you are immediately surrounded by blue and orange. If you know anything about Syracuse sports, these are the colors of their cherished college basketball team, The Syracuse Orange. Walking into the brewery, Pete was listening to the end of the latest game and Syracuse was winning. If there is one thing that Syracuse sports fans are fervent about, it is their college basketball team. Pete’s grandfather played for Syracuse University back in the early 1900’s and Pete has incorporated the team colors into the brewery decor as well as the logo. Complementing the colors is a double barrel shotgun as Pete is a skeet shooter and wanted that integrated into the logo as well.
The brewery is a family run business, with Pete’s wife and daughters helping out whenever they can. Pete runs the brewery full time and is constantly brewing. He got his start many years ago when he and a neighbor bought a home brew kit to experiment with. Soon Pete was working with specialty grains, before taking the leap to brewing with an all grain system. His recipes and love of beer making have been greatly influenced by breweries such as Rogue, FX Matt, and Sierra Nevada. Some of his brewing heroes are Jim Cook, Peter Slosberg, and Fred Maytag. It is the sense of adventure and pioneering spirit in these breweries and brewers that Pete is most struck by. He wants to instill that excitement into his own recipes.
Pete brews on a one barrel system but has the capacity to work with up to twelve barrels once he is ready. Since starting, Pete has brewed 43 batches and 23 different varieties. This is based on a very ambitious schedule and shows the enthusiasm Pete has for the craft. Pete’s mantra is “Needs more hops!” and most beer he produces is hoppy in nature. The hops come from the Pacific Northwest as that region has the characteristic aroma and taste that Pete wants in his final product. His most popular beers are, of course, the most hoppy ones; but customers really like the variety that he produces as well. Currently, he is experimenting with a few Belgians that will be out shortly. Pete is also well known to the local home brew clubs in both Syracuse and Rochester, New York.
Double Barrel does not have a Farm Brewery License so cannot sell pints on site. However, you can purchase growlers, pint glasses, hats, and t-shirts. The cost to try a flight of beers is only $2.00 which is an excellent value. Back in the beginning of 2014, Pete had a special “Hoppy New Year” party at which he released a large variety of hoppy beers. Luckily, some of these were still available to try when I was there. In the future, Pete plans to sell kegs to some local establishments. I think this will be key to help spread the word about the unique beers he is making at Double Barrel.
While at the brewery, be sure to check out Sally’s Select Brew Bones. Sally is the family’s dog and official taste tester of the brew bones. These dog biscuits are handcrafted by Pete’s daughters and utilize the spent grain from the brewing process. Proceeds of the sales go to the local SPCA.
Double Barrel Brewing Company is certainly off to a great start. Pete’s enthusiasm is infectious and I can’t wait to see what other beers he comes up with down the road. Based on his ambitious brewing schedule and love of unique beers, I hope to see great things from the brewery in the months and years to come.
When Syracuse University started up in 1870, the school colors were pink and green. They just did not look too good; especially when the students wanted to celebrate sports wins as no one wanted to be seen wearing pink! In 1889, the school changed the colors to orange since no other school teams were using that color.
Eastwood Brewing Company
Eastwood Brewing Company’s Facebook Page
108 Walter Drive, Syracuse, NY 13206
Visited January 11, 2014
Blog post written by Thomas Andersen.