The Historical Brewery Tour of Albany (Proposal)

1st Location – The Amsdell Brothers Brewing & Malting Co – 135 Jay Street

Workers at George I. Amsdell Brewery, Albany c.1910 toned gelatin silver print Albany Institute of History & Art Library, P2657.84
Workers at George I. Amsdell Brewery, Albany c.1910 toned gelatin silver print Albany Institute of History & Art Library, P2657.84

The Amsdell Brothers Brewing & Malting Company was one of the most prominent breweries within the city of Albany during the mid to late 1800s. A man named William Amsdell learned the tools of the trade from John Taylor, a bold Albany businessman who pioneered the industry during this time. Amsdell parted ways with Taylor in 1840 to open his own brewery with his sons in what is now Guilderland, NY. Sixteen years later, the Amsdell family moved operations to Jay street to establish The Amsdell Brothers Brewery. The family run company would develop into one of the most prominent breweries on the east coast; it shipped over 100,000 barrels of various brews per year at its peak. The brewery holds the recognition for being the final business to manufacture the Albany XX Ale.

Gravina, Craig. “Drinkdrank: Albany Ale: The Brothers Amsdell.” Drinkdrank: Albany Ale: The Brothers Amsdell. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://www.drinkdrank1.com/2013/10/albany-ale-brothers-amsdell.html.

2nd Location – The Dobler Brewing Co. – Corner of Swan & Myrtle

Looking northeast on Swan Street bween Elm Street and Myrtle Ave., about 1912. Photo from AlbanyGroup Archive
Looking northeast on Swan Street bween Elm Street and Myrtle Ave., about 1912. Photo from AlbanyGroup Archive

The John S. Dobler Brewing Company, founded in 1865, was a very unique brewery in Albany. During this time period nearly all of the local beer companies were solely brewing ales. Ales are brewed from wheat, an abundant resource in New York’s climate, and do not require refrigeration. The Dobler Brewing Co however, was one of few Albany breweries to brew both ales and lagers. While this fact may seem inconsequential, it is actually historically substantial.

Since The Dobler Brewing Company had refrigeration systems in its warehouse, when prohibition was enacted the company was easily converted to refrigerate foods and sodas. Not only that, but once prohibition ended in 1932 it became one of only three Albany breweries to re-open, joining the Beverwyck and Hedrick Brewing Companies (which also brewed lagers).

Cotch, Mark A. “A Tour of Albany’s Breweries Yesterday & Today.” A Tour of Albany’s Breweries Yesterday & Today. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://www.moonbrew.com/muggz/cotchtour.html.

Dreimiller. “The John S. Dobler Brewing Company.” The John S. Dobler Brewing Company. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://dreimiller.com/genealogy/dobler/.

Gravena, Craig. “Drinkdrank: Albany Ale: With a Wimper.” Drinkdrank: Albany Ale: With a Wimper. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://www.drinkdrank1.com/2013/03/albany-ale-with-wimper.html.

3rd Location – The Hinckel Brewery – 201 Park Avenue

The former Hinckel Brewery still stands today as an apartment complex. Photo by Paula Lemire.
The former Hinckel Brewery still stands today as an apartment complex. Photo by Paula Lemire.

In 1855, businessmen Frederick Hinckel and A. Schimerer founded the Cataract Brewery on Park Avenue. Hinckel would eventually buy out his partner and rename the company, which produces mostly sparking lager, after himself. Hinckel experienced great success as the owner of The Hinckel Brewery. Reportedly, just in the year 1886 alone, the Hinckel Brewery “produced at least thirty-five thousand barrels of beer and employed seventy-five employees”. Upon Frederick’s death in 1916, which signaled the end of operations, the brewery was recognized as one of the highest end facilities of its time. After its closing, the site of the old brewery was converted into an apartment building. Today, the Hinckel Brewery Apartments still stand and are actively being rented out at 201 Park Avenue.

Cotch, Mark A. “A Tour of Albany’s Breweries Yesterday & Today.” A Tour of Albany’s Breweries Yesterday & Today. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://www.moonbrew.com/muggz/cotchtour.html.

“Hinckel Brewery.” Hinckel Brewery Apartments. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://hinckelbrewery.com/about-hinckel-brewery/.

White, Christopher. “Finding Your Past: Genealogical Gleanings with the Albany Grave Digger.” : Brief History of German Brewers in Albany. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://findingyourpast.blogspot.com/2013/11/brief-history-of-german-brewers-in.html.

 

4th Location – Albany Brewing Company – 60 South Ferry Street

Albany Brewing Company Lithographer, T. Bonar ht.21 1/2" x w.27 1/2" Albany Institute of History & Art, 1954.59.12
Albany Brewing Company Lithographer, T. Bonar ht.21 1/2″ x w.27 1/2″ Albany Institute of History & Art, 1954.59.12

In 1796, a man of Scottish descent by the name of James Boyd opened a brewery on South Ferry Street in Albany, New York. The “Arch Street Brewery”, as it was originally named, holds the honor of being the first modern brewery to open its doors within the city of Albany. The company would later be renamed the Albany Brewing Company, and within its factory walls is crafted a number of amber pale ales, India pale ales, and porters. James Boyd is also responsible for the construction of many of the brick buildings across the street from the site of the brewery.

Bielinski, Stefan. “James Boydcolor.” James Boyd. Accessed March 02, 2016. https://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/bios/b/jaboyd7389.html.

McLeod, Alan, and Craig Gravina. “Albany Ale Project.” Albany Ale Project. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://albanyaleproject.com/history/rise.html.

5th Location – John Taylor & Sons – 133 Broadway

An advertisement for John Taylor & Sons. Originally appeared in the 1866 City of Albany Directory.
An advertisement for John Taylor & Sons. Originally appeared in the 1866 City of Albany Directory.

The history of brewing in Albany, New York is decidedly incomplete without mentioning historical pioneer John Taylor. Taylor, a talented local businessman, opened his first brewery on Broadway facing the Hudson River in the early 1820s. Several years later, in 1825, the Erie Canal was completed and opened for transport. Seeing the massive potential to use the new water route to ship his products nationwide, John Taylor capitalized. By 1852, John Taylor was operating the largest brewery in the United States and shipping in excess of 200,000 barrels of beer per year. Taylor soon introduced his own in-house brew, the Albany XX Ale, which exploded in popularity due to its ‘XX strength’.

Gravina, Craig. “The History of Beer: Albany, New York, Once the Largest Brewing Hub in America.” – Hudson Valley Magazine. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://www.hvmag.com/Hudson-Valley-Magazine/August-2013/The-History-of-Beer-Albany-New-York-Once-the-Largest-Brewing-Hub-in-America/.

McLeod, Alan, and Craig Gravina. “Albany Ale Project.” Albany Ale Project. Accessed March 02, 2016. http://albanyaleproject.com/history/rise.html.


 

  • The Historical Brewery Tour of Albany is 1.4 miles in length and will take approximately 28 minutes to walk.
  • The tour takes participants on a scenic walk through the city of Albany, from Hudson Park to the glistening Hudson River, and introduces some of the rich local brewing history along the way.
  • This tour is perfect for any local residents, beer enthusiasts, or anyone who wishes to learn an interesting side of Albany history.
  • Each stop on the tour introduces a new location which heavily impacted the history, culture, and/or industry of ale and lager production in the state’s capital.
  • By the end of the tour, participants will have a better understanding of how brewing started in Albany, how Albany became the biggest exporter of beer in the United States, and how prohibition affected the area.

 

  1. What other information is out there on the Albany Brewing Company?
  2. Where exactly did the old Dobler Brewing Co building stand on Myrtle Avenue?
  3. What products were handled within the 3 breweries that were re purposed during prohibition?

2 thoughts on “The Historical Brewery Tour of Albany (Proposal)

Leave a Reply