History

Our Story

Everything we are today started with one simple goal in 1990: to provide Lincoln with the best food and beer in Nebraska. The original Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket started with delicious, uncompromising food and quickly evolved into its own brewery dedicated to meticulously crafting unforgettable microbrews that beer enthusiasts and novices alike enjoyed savoring—that company is Empyrean Brewing Co.

Empyrean Brewing Co. is the oldest brewery in Nebraska. The ancients believed paradise existed at the highest point in the universe within a fiery sphere they called “The Empyrean.” Inspired by this sentiment, we set out to infuse every batch of our handcrafted ales with our own unique notion of paradise—take a journey with us, one sip at a time.

 

1990 – Order up!

Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill is founded. Rich Chapin is chosen as Head Brewer and begins converting his award-winning home-brew recipes for the pub.

1991 – The keg is tapped.

With the grand opening of Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill at 710 P St. on March 20, 1991, Lazlo’s is the first Nebraska brewpub. Approximately 500 barrels (15,500 gallons) of Lazlo’s beer is sold.

1996 – Groundbreaking flavor.

Construction begins on a new fermentation cellar in the adjacent Coffee & Spice Building at 729 Q St.

1997 – Cheers.

Empyrean Brewing Co. becomes a separate financial entity from Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill. K & Z Distributing of Lincoln, and Miller Brands of Omaha begin distributing Empyrean beer.

1998 – Sudsy success.

The brewery’s capacity is increased to 2,500 barrels (77,500 gallons) a year. Empyrean has 70 draft accounts in Omaha and Lincoln, and bottling planning begins.

1999 – Message in a bottle.

Empyrean begins bottling in February becoming the first craft brewery in Nebraska to bottle beer. Third Stone Brown, LunaSea ESB, and Chaco Canyon appear on store shelves.

2000 – Two is better than one.

Capacity is increased again as Lazlo’s opens a second location in South Lincoln. Planning begins for a new brewhouse to handle the increasing amounts of orders.

2001 – A legend is born.

The new brewhouse begins operation. Empyrean is now the largest brewery in Nebraska. Dark Side Vanilla Porter is created.

2002 – We get around.

Empyrean is the first Nebraska brewery to distribute statewide. Burning Skye Scottish Ale is created. FireWorks Restaurant is opened adjacent to the brewery.

2003 – Nebraska knows us by name.

Empyrean continues to grow throughout Nebraska, reaching west to Scottsbluff, north to Norfolk, east to Omaha, and south to Beatrice.

2004 – Crafted for excellence.

Empyrean sells 2,850 barrels (88,350 gallons) of beer and has four brands among the top-20, best-selling craft beer brands in the state.

2005 – Breaking news.

Ground is broken in Fremont and West Omaha for two new Lazlo’s locations. Empyrean sets a new sales record of 3,200 barrels (100,000 gallons).

2006 – Heavy medal.

Sales growth continues at a healthy pace. LunaSea ESB wins a silver medal in the Extra Special Bitter category at the 2006 World Beer Cup. Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill opens locations in Omaha.

2009–2010 – Top shelf.

Empyrean partners with additional distributors allowing our craft beers to be sold at liquor stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores in Iowa and North and South Dakota.

2010 – A reason for the season.

Empyrean adds seasonal selections to their bottling lineup, starting with Super Nova Summer Fest.

2011 – You’re being watched.

Empyrean adds Watch Man IPA to their year-round bottling lineup. Expansion on distribution outreach continues through the Midwest.

2013 – All four one, four for all.

Empyrean began bottling the Carpe Brewem series, brewed in small batches for limited distribution in 4-packs. Each Carpe Brewem contains unique, expensive, and sometimes exotic ingredients, and many are barrel-aged for added awesomeness.

2014 – 12-pack of paradise.

Empyrean adds a variety 12-pack to its portfolio called Empyrean Universe.

2015 – Ice, ice, baby.

Empyrean adds a cold storage warehouse in South Haymarket.

2016 – A shortcut to flavor.

Old Chicago requested a special brew for a tasting event and head brewer, Rich Chapin, created Long Route Peanut Butter Porter. What was meant to be a one-off creation quickly sold out and increasing demand made this porter a permanent fixture in the Empyrean lineup.

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