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Syracuse the best beer city in New York? No way. 

click to enlarge Syracuse as the best beer city in New York? I think not.

FILE PHOTO

Syracuse as the best beer city in New York? I think not.

A recent ranking of the country’s supposed “Best Cities for Beer Lovers” gave some cities reason to raise a glass. The Cincinnati Enquirer, for instance, touted its city placing fifth, while 7News Boston trumpeted a seventh-place ranking for Beantown.

Never mind that the rankings appeared deeply flawed and were produced by a lawn care company that inexplicably dabbles in “research studies” as a sideline business. I’m being serious.

In addition to publishing the “Best Cities for Beer Lovers” in October, the company, Lawn Love, published the “Best and Worst States for Fishing” and — this is true — the “Best and Worst Cities for Vampires.”

The vampire study “researchers” considered in their criteria — and this is true, too — cities with a growing number of warm bodies (in other words, booming populations), blood centers and blood drives, casket manufacturers, cloud cover, homes on the market with basements, and a dearth of garlic festivals.
click to enlarge Lawn Love is a lawn care company that inexplicably dabbles in "research studies" as a sideline business. - SCREEN SHOT OF LAWN LOVE
  • SCREEN SHOT OF LAWN LOVE
  • Lawn Love is a lawn care company that inexplicably dabbles in "research studies" as a sideline business.
Naperville, Illinois, had the dubious distinction of being the best city for bloodthirsty immortals. Rochester ranked 46th on the list.

When it came to the “Best Cities for Beer,” Rochester placed 38th. That’s reasonable, I guess. We’re surely not in the league of, say, Denver, which ranked third, and we far outshine the brew wasteland of Virginia Beach, which brought up the rear.

The fly in my pint, though, was Syracuse ranking ahead of Rochester at 31st place, making it the supposed top city for beer lovers in New York. Buffalo came in 117th.
Rochester is used to being sandwiched between Syracuse and Buffalo, geographically speaking. But there is no way it belongs there in a ranking of beer cities.

Look, I’ll be diplomatic here. There are some pretty good breweries in Syracuse. Buried Acorn, Talking Cursive, and Underground Beer Lab are all solid.
But does the Syracuse beer scene overall hold a candle to Rochester? Nope. Not even close. It’s not in the same league as Buffalo, either. Hell, Albany gives Syracuse a run for its money.

Lawn Love broke down its rankings using five metrics: beer quality, establishment quality, community, access, and cost.

Rochester tied Syracuse in beer quality, beat it out in establishment quality and access, and got absolutely smoked in the community and cost categories.

First, let’s talk about “community,” which was defined by the share of adults who drink beer, and the number of beer parties and festivals in the area.

Syracuse’s biggest brewer is Anheuser-Busch. Syracuse University has twice in the last seven years been ranked as the best party school in the country by The Princeton Review.

Perhaps we should expect nothing less of a lawn care company that dabbles in “research” to consider college students barely old enough to vote “adults who drink beer” and funneling kegs of Bud in the basement of a frat house a “beer party.”
As for cost, Rochester’s beer is not more expensive, especially when considering the quality.

A four-pack of Rohrbach Scotch Ale runs about $10. A six-pack of Three Heads’ The Kind is $11.50. Those are good beers.

If you want to shell out $25 on a four-pack, you can do that at places like Fifth Frame or Strangebird. Four-packs of fruited sours at Mortalis or some wild ales from Other Half FLX aren’t cheap, either.
click to enlarge PHOTOS BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
  • PHOTOS BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
But you also aren’t going to find anything of their caliber in Syracuse.
Avon’s Mortalis ranks in the top 20 of breweries in the world on beer rating site Untappd. Other Half, a legendary brewery based in Brooklyn, picked Bloomfield as the site of its first satellite brewery.

Syracuse doesn’t have anything noteworthy when it comes to beer. Call me the next time you hear someone say, “Man, I was really blown away by this Syracuse brewery,” because I have a bridge to sell you.

So if this “study” gives weight to cities in which one can get the most beer by dumping pocketfuls of change onto a convenience store counter, then Syracuse has it all over Rochester.

And yeah, we have Genesee, some of whose brands can be bought cheap. But at least they’re homegrown. Anheuser-Busch is headquartered in St. Louis.
click to enlarge The Genesee Brewery is still producing large quantities of its iconic beers, but with the opening of the Genesee Brew House, it’s started producing small batches of craft beer, too. Some of those offerings are scaled up for production in the main brewery. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • The Genesee Brewery is still producing large quantities of its iconic beers, but with the opening of the Genesee Brew House, it’s started producing small batches of craft beer, too. Some of those offerings are scaled up for production in the main brewery.
You might think I have some bias here, and you’d be right. I like Rochester beer.
But I’ll also admit that Buffalo, home to hyped-up breweries like Thin Man and Froth and ranked 117th by the “researchers” at Lawn Love, is at the very least on par with Rochester’s scene.

New York City, near the bottom of the list, is home to Finback, Fifth Hammer, Grimm, and Evil Twin NYC — four breweries that have set trends in the state beer scene. (Grimm won the most awards of any brewery in this year’s New York State Brewers Association competition.)

Albany is home to Fidens Brewing Company, currently ranked the 11th best brewery in the world on Untappd.

Take a look at the major cities in New York, and every single one has at least one widely recognized and heralded brewery. Every single one except Syracuse.
So congrats, Syracuse. The grass clipping company thinks you have great beer. I’m happy for you. Cheers.

Now, I need a drink.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.

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