WHAT was ALBANY ALE?
 

THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

The American Temperance Movement and Prohibition signaled the death knell for Albany Ale. Though opponents of alcohol had been active for decades, on January 17, 1920 National Prohibition went into affect—banning the sale, production and transportation of alcohol. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, only three of the eleven breweries operating in Albany—Hedrick, Dobler and Beverwyck—re-opened.


Hedrick Beer Six-Pack
c. 1960
Metal and printed cardboard
Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of Anna Cipollo, 1994.23.1
Those three breweries along with Fitzgerald's, Quandt's and Stanton in Troy continued into the 1940s and 50s, becoming beloved regional breweries, albeit having a far smaller distribution area than Albany Ale. Hedrick and Dobler both closed during the 1960s, while Fitzgerald burned in 1961. The F&M Schaefer Brewery purchased Beverwyck, in 1950. Schaefer was a Bushwick brewery that had over exceeded capacity at its New York City operation and purchased Beverwyck to expand production. Schaefer in the 1950s and 60s was one of the best selling beer brands in the United States. Unfortunately, it too would succumb to the Mid-western, mega-breweries in the early 1970s.

Harkening back to the early days of Albany Ale, William Newman opened a tiny brewery on Thacher Street in Albany during the early 1980s. While Bill's brewery wasn't very large, it was—arguably—the first craft brewery on the east coast. Popular with college kids and connoisseurs, Newman's—the last commercial brewery in the city of Albany—would close in the late 1980s. It did spur the emergence of several brewpubs , and  was at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement.

As brewpubs became fashionable, Albany was no exception. The Big House Brewing Company and C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station began brewing beer and serving food within the city of Albany, while Malt River Brewing Company and Brown and Moran’s opened in Latham and Troy, respectively. The brewpubs, unfortunately, would also find a similar fate as their historical counterparts. Today only the re-named Brown’s Brewing Company and the Albany Pump Station remain. C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station is currently the only establishment producing beer within the city limits of Albany.