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Iroquois Beer makes a comeback to the future

This spring, when you head into your favorite licensed establishment and look at the taps, you will see a new beer with an old name. Buffalo's Community Beer Works is reviving Iroquois Beer.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

There was a time when if you saw two glasses of beer next to each other in a local bar, the odds were pretty good one was Iroquois. That was before the brewery closed after the local owners sold it to a beer conglomerate.

The first keg was tapped in 1842. Now Iroquois Beer is coming back. Community Beer Works gave a few people a chance to sample the product during a news conference Thursday in Hotel Henry.

While Community Beer Works is doing the brewing, the name belongs to Bill Pottle, great-grandson of brewery owner William Wiegel. Pottle said his great-grandfather's desk has a lot of paper, but not the recipe.

"His weekly, daily diary that had been typed up by what must have been one of his assistants, his secretary at the time, when you go through the diary it shows you numerous landmark events that happened at the brewery," Pottle said, "and any reference to the recipe is just really, really very broad based and nothing very detailed."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

So Community Beer Works officials, Pottle and others tried out various beers until they found the one they decided was right for Iroquois. The goal is to brew as much as possible with locally-grown ingredients.

"One of the things that we're very proud of is we're going to be using, hopefully, a lot of New York State-based ingredients in the new recipe," Pottle said. "Ethan can speak more to it, but I think that a lot of the ingredients used post-Prohibition and all of the way up to the seventies, a lot that is really not available to us anymore. Even with the recipe, there would be some significant altering that would have had to be done."

Pottle said there have been some conversations with the Seneca Nation about the revived beer. He said the company logo was changed because he did not want to use the Native American symbol used by the company for so long.

"It's a logo that I don't like, quite frankly," he said. "I think we need to move beyond all that and we will. Chris and Ethan and the folks at Community Beer Works have done so much for our community in a short period of time and we're going to keep moving forward along that path."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.
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