The favorite beers of Buffalo’s dads through the years

By Steve Cichon

We’re looking back at the beers your dad drank today.

The 1950s started with five local breweries in Buffalo, but by the time the decade ended, three of them–Buffalo’s Manru, Phoenix, and Beck breweries– had all closed.

Through the 50s, Carling’s Red Cap, Black Label, and Old Vienna beers from Canada were popular, and Goebel and Ballantine were two out-of-town cheap beers that sold well in WNY.

MORE: Buffalo in the 50s: The cheap beers Buffalo dads were drinking 65 years ago this week

In the 1960s, Iroquois and Simon Pure were still being made in Buffalo, and Rochester’s Genesee and Dunkirk’s Koch’s were other popular semi-local choices. Schmidt’s of Philadelphia was popular el-cheapo beer.

MORE: Buffalo in the 60s: Which beers were Buffalonians drinking 50 years ago?

As the 1970s rolled around, more Canadian beer prices came closer in line with US prices, and Labatt Blue beer and Labatt 50 Ale became more readily available and selling better, especially with the closure of Buffalo’s last two breweries.

MORE: Buffalo in the 70s: Labatt starts move as Buffalo’s most popular beer

Simon Pure closed in 1971 and Iroquois closed in 1972, but through the 70s,Dunkirk’s Fred Koch Brewery continued making those beers, along with their own popular Golden Anniversary Beer.

MORE: Buffalo in the 70s: Which beer did your dad drink?

Boy, I could go for a Genny now. 1980s.

By the end of the 70s, Genesee was Buffalo’s best selling beer, served in just about every shot and beer corner gin mill in the city.

By the 1990s, and ever since, Labatt Blue has been Buffalo’s best selling beer.

Buffalo in the 70s: Labatt starts move as Buffalo’s most popular beer

By Steve Cichon

Labatt Blue has been Buffalo’s most popular beer for decades now. One can assume that began to happen as local breweries like Simon Pure and Iroquois closed, but also as beers like Labatt – “imported fresh from Canada” – started to come down in price—as mentioned in this ad from the pages of The News 45 years ago this week, August 13, 1970.

Buffalo in the 50s: The cheap beers Buffalo dads were drinking 65 years ago this week

By Steve Cichon

Among the beers advertised to the fathers of Buffalo on the pages of The News 65 years ago this week, in August, 1950, were imports from Newark, Detroit, Toronto (by way of Cleveland) and one beer made right here in Buffalo.

Ballantine was a New York City favorite for generations and was a less expensive brand carried into the ’80s at places like Bells.

Goebel beer, brewed in Detroit and available in Western New York into the ’80s, was announcing its new “bantam cans,” allowing your dad to drink 8 ounces at a time.

05 aug 1950 goebel beer

Red Cap Ale and Black Label Beer, both by Carling, were Canadian beers that were being brewed in Cleveland in 1950. They were among the most popular in Buffalo at the time.

Beck’s beer, not to be confused with the present day German import, was brewed by Magnus Beck Brewing in Buffalo from 1855 to 1956.

Buffalo in the 80s: Buffalo rejoices at the end of Canada’s beer strike

By Steve Cichon

In 1985, Labatt, Molson and Carling/O’Keefe Breweries locked out their unionized workforce, leaving the beer drinkers of Canada (and Buffalo) looking elsewhere for adult beverages. It was a month-long stalemate that left five of Ontario’s six breweries out of commission.

It was 30 years ago today that the Brewers’ Retail reopened in Fort Erie and found itself bombarded with thirsty Ontarians — and Buffalonians. In fact, it was a Buffalo guy on a motor scooter who was first in line to strap two-four of Labatt on the back of his bike.

“Response bordering on jubilation greets return of beer in Ontario”

March 27, 1985

” ‘I’m so psyched,’ said Joseph Delo, 22, of Starin Avenue in Buffalo, who drove his motor scooter over the border this morning.”

Buffalo in the 60s: Beer industry veteran recalls delivering Iroquois by horse

By Steve Cichon

Our 2015 imaginations are lit up by the thought of a full-scale brewery operating in Buffalo, as Iroquois and Simon Pure both did when this article appeared in The News on March 10, 1965.

But 50 years ago, the idea that opened the minds of the readers of The News was the thought of 17 breweries operating in Buffalo.

Jacob Rosenfield delivered Iroquois Beer for almost 60 years, from the days of watching men walk into gin mills to get “take-away” beer in galvanized steel pails, all the way up to the strife of the 1960s and the Vietnam War.

His story is an interesting look at the history of Buffalo through the eyes and hard work of a single man.

” ‘Good old days’ recalled as second retirement ends”

” ‘In those days, a customer could enjoy a glass of beer for 5 cents and had a free counter lunch to boot,’ Mr. Rosenfield fondly recalled.”

Buffalo in the 60s: Which beers were Buffalonians drinking 50 years ago?

By Steve Cichon

There were a handful of beer ads in the pages of The News 50 years ago this week (the week of Feb. 16, 1965); most of them were brewed in the Buffalo region if not in Buffalo itself.

Frankenmuth Bock beer was brewed in Buffalo after its parent company merged with the Iroquois Brewery of Buffalo to form the International Brewing Co.

In 1965, Genesee Beer was brewed in Rochester, NY, as it is today.

Koch’s Golden Anniversary and Draft beers were brewed in Dunkirk, NY until 1985. The Genesee Brewery, which bought The Fred Koch Brewery in 1984, moved all brewing operations to its Rochester home base until the Koch brands were phased out in the mid-2000’s.

Schmidt’s was brewed in Philadelphia, but was a low-cost favorite in the Buffalo market until the brewery closed in 1986.

Buffalo in the 70s: Which beer did your dad drink?

By Steve Cichon

The 1970s saw the closure of Buffalo’s last two big, traditional breweries. While the names Iroquois and Simon Pure lasted even after the East Buffalo institutions closed, both were being brewed by the Fred Koch Brewery in Dunkirk. By 1979, even the names were gone from the market, and Buffalo had had its last Iroquois and Simon Pure.

Koch’s main offerings– Golden Anniversary, Holiday Beer and Black Horse Ale– all did reasonably well in Buffalo.

For most of the 70s, however, it was another “almost-local” brewery that held the largest market share when it came to the still-blue-collar, still shot-and-a-beer, still-neighborhood-tavern Buffalo.

At the start of the 1980s, Rochester’s Genesee Brewery brewed the beer that Buffalo drank more than any other.  By the time the calendar rolled into the 1990s, Genesee had been supplanted by Labatt.

Koch’s, Genesee and Labatt were all on sale this week in Buffalo during the week of December 15, 1979. Chances are pretty good that 35 years ago this week, most of our fathers or grandfathers bought a case or two for the garage fridge, getting ready for the big family Christmas party.

At Bells, it was yellow labeled no-name beer on sale.

Two signs you were in Buffalo in the 1970s: Black Horse Ale and the Buffalo Stallions at the Aud.

Super Duper had Genny, Genny Light and Genny Cream Ale six-packs on sale.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Koch’s Holiday Beer was a different recipe than Koch’s Golden Anniversary. It wasn’t just a label change at Christmas.

Labatt beer (still not officially “Labatt Blue”) and 50 Ale (which was Canada’s most popular beer through the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s) were both on sale at Tops.

Still officially called “Labatt Beer,” the labels told drinkers to “call for Labatt Blue.”

Consumer’s Beverage also had two more Buffalo favorites on sale: Old Vienna and Schmidt’s. And, of course, Consumer’s had its own branded 10-ounce glass bottles of pop on sale, as well.

Buffalo in the 50s: Heritage Buffalo brewery closes its doors

By Steve Cichon

Fifty-five years ago, the Phoenix Brewery, which had been on Emslie Street since the end of Prohibition, closed, with the loss of about 30 jobs.

Phoenix Beer and Ale would continue to be bottled at the Pratt Street plant of the Iroquois Brewery. Both Phoenix and Iroquois were owned by International Breweries Inc.

The closed plant was built in 1867 and was the long time home of the East Buffalo Brewing Company.

“Old Phoenix Brewery closes in transfer of operations”

By Bob Watson | October 21, 1959

“Emslie St. plant is offered for sale as Iroquois absorbs part of its staff.”