After collaborating with most local breweries, including Pearl Street Brewery, Resurgence Brewing and Big Ditch Brewing and Rochester breweries like Swiftwater Brewing and Roc Brewing, Community Beer Works have cast their net further up to I-90 to Syracuse, this time partnering with Empire Brewing Company on Smoke N’ Shadows, a 6.2% smoked porter.

Smoke N’ Shadows is brewed with a blend of Munich and Vienna malts which were hand-smoked over a period of three days at the Empire Farm Brewery. Using cherry wood and Empire’s on-site smoker, these smoked malts were blended with the specialty malts of the brew to give this porter a subtle hint of smoke flavor.

CBW’s Director of Brewing Operations Ryan Demler says that the collaboration has roots that extend back years and years.

“[Empire Brewing’s Director of Brewing Operations] Tim [Butler] and I have been talking about brewing a beer together since I worked at the Albany Pump Station,” Demler says of how Smoke N’ Shadows first came to be. “As he said, this collab ‘came together over many beers over many years.’ Ethan [Cox] (President of CBW), and until very recently Dave [Katleski] (founder of Empire), served on the NYS Brewers Association Board of Directors together. Ethan had planned on brewing a CBW collaboration with every sitting member of the board (so far we’ve got 2, plus a board member emeritus) and those two have been good buddies for a while.”

Demler adds that brewing Smoke N’ Shadows was quite the eye-opening experience for him since most everything at Empire was different from what he is used to at CBW, although he does admit that it has him excited for their own future.

“Working with the Empire folks was awesome. They’re excellent people, wonderful hosts, and took us all through their sweet new(er) brewery. Tim took us through their automation system in depth, Dave gave us the grand tour of their facility, we had a delicious lunch, sampled some super tasty beers and got to just hang out and shoot the shit which is always nice. It was also a trip to brew on such a system since everything we do at CBW is outrageously labor intensive, while the new Empire brewery is much more user/labor friendly. Makes me excited for our new system.”

Smoke N’ Shadows will be on tap at Community Beer Works, Hydraulic Hearth and both Empire Brewing locations as well as ‘at some choice accounts in Buffalo and around Syracuse,’ according to Demler.

Get more information on CBW at and on Facebook at

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague) and