First Arena Update: Brew Pub Operation is Planned for Downtown Elmira

Posted May 21, 2013

New Elmira First Arena team taps into beer, wine ideas
By Jason Whong, The Star-Gazette (5/20/13)

The brew pub slated to open this fall at First Arena will be more than a microbrewery in the heart of downtown Elmira, its developers said.

It also will feature wine on tap, its own root beer and ginger ale, food and a beer garden. And you’ll be able to go even when there’s no hockey game.

“It’ll be a little different than some breweries because we’re going to be featuring wine,” said Nate Cook, who controls the arena with Tom Freeman. “We’re also going to be featuring lagers as much as ales.

“It’s part of our whole theme of how can we have more stuff going on in the arena and how the arena can be utilized more by people downtown, and a brewery is just the type of thing that’s going to create foot traffic, which is really going to benefit all the local retail merchants,” Cook said.

The plans call for expanding the existing bar in the arena, which faces North Main Street, by knocking out the wall that separates the bar from the souvenir shop. The number of people who can be served there is undetermined, but Jeremy Gulich, of Elmira Heights, the manager and developer of the brew pub, estimated it at 30 to 60 people.

A storefront that is being used as storage, north of the existing souvenir shop, will be converted to a brew house. It will be separated from the dining area by a new glass wall.

Outside on West Gray Street, plans include a beer garden, separated from the sidewalk by flowers in planters. It will be able to serve 75 to 100 people, Gulich said.

Brian Riley, of Beaver Dams, has signed on as the brewmaster of the new operation. Riley has brewed professionally for about six months, but he’s been brewing at home since 2005.

Riley said he plans to offer as many as six kinds of beer at the pub. Four of them will be the main collection of beers, supplemented by a seasonal brew and a “scratch batch” experimental brew.

The names of the beers haven’t been determined.

The brewery also will feature wine on tap from barrels in a system that prevents spoilage.

“The nice thing is you can have some real premium wines, too,” Freeman said, explaining that if someone orders an expensive glass of wine from a bottle, the rest of the bottle could go to waste after a few days because of exposure to air. “With the wine on tap, you take what you need, and there’s no waste.”

The new brew pub isn’t the only thing in the works at the arena.

Freeman and Cook are planning to paint and dress up the building on its North Main Street and West Gray Street sides.

They also have a number of events scheduled for June, including comedy clubs and a teen dance.

(For original story, please visit

Featured Events

View All Events

Site Sponsors

Become a Site Sponsor

Current Publication

Chemung County Chamber of Commerce

Mark Twain Country