Cortland Beer Company brewing strong community ties

CORTLAND, N.Y. – There is no question about it: Central New Yorkers love their beer and wine.

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Maybe it’s because our lush surroundings inspire us to indulge in the finer things in life. Maybe it’s because we are down-to-Earth, hard-working people who like to take a load off after a long week. Maybe it’s because there aren’t many things better in life than relaxing and enjoying special moments with our friends and family.

Whatever the reason, Central New Yorkers have become unexpected connoisseurs of beer and wine, and the evidence of that lies in the region's local breweries and vineyards.

Quite recently, Cortland Beer Company has added the city of Cortland to the growing list of craft brewery destinations in New York State.

The idea was born in 2007, when Dan Cleary was looking for a career change. Brewing beer out of his home and the house of a friend, they began approaching local bars and restaurants to taste their new product.

“We started contracting our first beer, The Crown City Kolsch, with great enthusiasm from the local bars and restaurants,” says co-owner Dawn Zarnowski. “We realized we needed to bring the brewery to Cortland.”

cortland beer company

The Cortland Beer Company opened its outdoor seating area on Court Street in May of 2014 (photo courtesy of CBC's Facebook page)

After nearly two years of building and planning–and with the help of his two new business partners, Tom Scheffler and Dawn Zarnowski–Cleary opened the doors of CBC at 16 Court Street.

“We have been well supported from day one, and continue to feel that support every day,” Zarnowski said. “It is satisfying to have someone thank you for opening your doors in Cortland.”

By 2011, CBC was recognized with accolades such as “Second Best Beer in New York State." It's an impressive feat, especially considering the volume of long-established and well-reputed breweries in New York State.

The highest quality product is pursued relentlessly, Zarnowski says, and each brew is created with care and passion.

“Each beer we brew is like a child we have to nurture and grow and teach how to become a full grown beer," Zarnowski said.

It’s not just about the beer, either. For the staff at Cortland Beer Company, owning and operating a business is all about the customers and the community.

"We are very dedicated to our community, helping in business events, local concerts and charities," Zarnowski said. "We all have to do our part to keep the community going. Cortland has great people who are willing to help and donate at the drop of a hat, and we are proud to be a part of that in any way we can.”

This month, CBC will be hosting three live music events outside on their Brewer’s Stage. August 7 will feature The Billy Golicki Band, August 14 showcases The Blind Spots, and August 28 will feature Molly & The Badly Bent Bluegrass Band. All live music is held from 7 to 9 p.m.

So the next time you are looking for a place to relax and enjoy a cold beer, stop into the Cortland Beer Company taproom and strike up a conversation with one of their brew staff. You’ll be greeted with a warm smile, and you may even learn a thing or two about your favorite cold beverage.

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