Brewing Industry - Links
Looking Back at Buffalo's Brewing History
on Resurgence Brewing Co. News, June 19, 2017
Beer in Buffalo has a long and storied history, starting with its first drinking establishment – the Cold Spring Tavern – opening in 1805.
Joseph Webb opened the first brewery in Black Rock in 1811 and by 1831, more than 173,000 bushels of wheat passed through Buffalo to become beer. In 1826, Rudolph Baer’s brewery produce the first home-brewed lager in Buffalo and in 1830, Jacob Roos Brewing opened between Church and York Streets. It later became the Iroquois Brewing Company. Magnus Beck Brewery and Downs Brewery joined it in 1840, followed by the Born Brewery (later renamed the Gerhard Lang Brewing Co.) Lang was also one of the first local breweries to reopen after Prohibition, before shuttering in 1949.
In 1849, the German American Brewing Company opened as a center of German-American culture in Western New York, and in 1850, the Ziegele Brewing Company and tavern opened. It later burned to the ground and was reopened in 1887 as the Phoenix Brewery, next door to the current Ulrich’s Tavern. In 1853, John Schusler Brewery opened, which later become the William Simon Brewery and one of Buffalo’s longest-running breweries. It closed in 1972.
A pamphlet distributed at the 37th Annual Convention of the United States Brewers’ Association in 1897 read “The breweries and malting-houses centered in Buffalo taken in the aggregate rank third in the city’s long list of industrial enterprises. Not only in the aggregate of their output, but in the quality of their product have they established Buffalo as a successful rival of any city in the Union, both in home and export trade.” The U.S. Brewmasters Association held its 12th annual convention in Buffalo in 1900, and by 1919 Buffalo had 29 functioning breweries and by 1922, there were 8,000 locations in the city where alcohol could be purchased.
Prohibition took its toll on Buffalo’s brewing scene, as did labor disputes in the 1930s and 40s. By the 1950s, Genesee, Utica Club, and others in Canada and out West began to appear in Buffalo. By 1974, there were only 69 breweries left in the country and by 1975, there were 2,000 taverns in Buffalo or one for every 550 residents at the time. In 1986, Buffalo Brewpub in Williamsville became the first microbrewery in the area since the early 1970s and by 1990, is ranked in the top 20 microbreweries in the country.
By 1995, Ellicottville Brewing Company had opened south of Buffalo and Breckenridge Brewing Company opened on Main Street. It closed in 1998 and the same site became Empire Brewing Company and Ya-Ya Bayou Brewhouse before shutting down in 2005. In 1997, Pearl Street Grill & Brewery led the revival of microbrews downtown, followed by Flying Bison Brewing Company opening in Riverside in 2000.
In 2004, the first annual Buffalo Brewfest took place and in 2012, Community Beer Works opened on Niagara Street. We [Resurgence Brewing Co.] followed in 2014 and the rest, as the old saying goes, is delicious, hoppy history. Buffalo has been a beer town just about since its inception, and with two handfuls of new breweries opening this year alone, we’re well on our way to getting back there again.