Start a brewery in western New York? Why the hell not?

Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York, has grown into one of the largest craft brewers in the country. Our hand-crafted ales are now available in more than thirty States and points beyond.




Founders Phineas DeMink and Allen “Skip” Yahn started the brewery with the vision of reviving the practice of small-batch brewing to a region rich in brewing tradition. In 2002, with equipment gained from the purchase of the Old Saddleback Brewing Co. in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the Southern Tier Brewing Company began production in the woods just outside of Lakewood, New York. By 2003, select varieties of small batch ales were locally distributed, and by 2005, sales to a rapidly growing base of fans covered the majority of New York State and Pennsylvania. The brewery produced Pilsner, Mild Ale, and India Pale Ale before adding a successful roster of seasonal beers to the portfolio.

Southern Tier immediately garnered regional attention and demand quickly outgrew what our modest facility could handle. In 2009 a new 20,000-sq-ft building was added to the property. In this new facility, the small brewery was able to grow and offer the product both nationally and internationally, while still satisfying its loyal local fans.

The Beginning
Our Growth
Our Growth

Soon thereafter, it became clear that we needed to make more to satisfy the thirsty souls that had come to find our beers. We added 800 barrels of fermentation vessels to the production area and a 7,500-sq-ft conditioning room. The constantly running brew house has also been expanded and updated from a 20 BBL to a 50 BBL system. In keeping pace with the expanded brewing capacity, we replaced the bottling line with the most high-tech, state-of-the-art bottling line of its size in North America. It fills, caps and labels an impressive 10,000 bottles per hour at full speed. Our cellar was also expanded to allow for more than 3,200 BBL of fermentation space as of late 2011 and then again in 2012 to more than 7,200 BBL.

In 2012 our new brewhouse installation began and wrapped up in early 2013. The first liquid began flowing through the 110 barrel Steinecker brewhouse in March of 2013.  Built in Germany, we actually assembled the building around the new brewhouse. Overlooking the new brewhouse is the Brewhouse Tasting Room, which is also the ending point of our Saturday afternoon tours. With 14 fresh draught lines, a fireplace and a cozy vibe, it is a pleasant place to enjoy samples of our many beers. The Brewhouse Tasting Room is perfect for private events (call 716.763.5479×204 to book yours).

Autumn 2013 saw more construction on our expanding campus. A 45,000-sq-ft warehouse and distribution center was built as well as a wastewater treatment facility. Also in 2013, our “Yeast wing” was completed. The yeast parlor includes automated yeast propagation and storage. Yeast is harvested at 3-4 days old, extracted and drawn (approximately 24BBL x 3 tanks) 5BBL from 100 BBL of fermenting beer. Yeast is held in “suspended animation”. Wort stream from the brewhouse goes through yeast parlor, then to FV.

Recent years have seen more investments in quality, team, tools, and technology. We replaced the DE plate filter with GEA Centrifuge system, which operates at approximately 100BBL/hr and uses force of gravity rather than Diatomaceous Earth to clarify beer. We also more than doubled our cellar staff, as well as the lab and Quality Assurance / Quality Control departments.

Our Growth
Ever Onward

In 2016, we opened our distillery, broke ground on our first satellite brewing facility, and announced our partnership with Victory Brewing Company. Two new 30BBL fermenters arrived, along with our 2-barrel nano-brewhouse. We began testing batches of new and exciting brews late in the year, and you can usually find one of our latest small-batch brews on tap at our Empty Pint or the Brewhouse Tasting Room. Speaking of the bar, we raised the bar when we installed a state-of-the-art canning line & began canning some of our most popular ales & lagers. 2016 also saw the evolution of our brand in the form of updated product packaging (including the launch of a new can series), as well as updated logo for the brewery. We rounded out a busy year by improving our Quality Assurance with a new automatic fill-level check from Filtec and implemented new programs in Safety as well as Food Safety. Last, but not least, we updated our computer tech in our cellar and we installed a new automatic palletizer to keep packaging running smoothly.

Like the folks that call this region home, rather than sit back and simply toast all that hard work, we jumped into 2017 opening our first satellite brewpub in Pittsburgh, PA. (Note: We did toast all that great effort, as we’ll use any excuse we can think of to raise a glass to making great beer. We just didn’t sit back afterward…) The North Shore (316 N. Shore Dr.) facility boasts a full kitchen, a 10 hL German-built brewhouse, local-only beers + STBC favorites and a 10,000 sq. ft. beer garden (beer garden opening Fall 2017.)

Now open!
The Empty Pint patio
See Our Taprooms
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