AIn the 19th and early 20th century most towns of any size in the Mohawk Valley had their own local brewery. The Utica-Rome area has been home to well over 40 breweries since 1801. Two factors played a major role in the industry. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 significantly lowered transportation costs for brewing supplies and finished beer. Also, hop growing became a huge industry in Central New York during the second half of the 19th century.
These two factors resulted in booming commerce with New York and Pennsylvania generating 85% of the beer produced in the US in 1860. The great “social experiment” of Prohibition made the manufacture and sale of alcohol illegal and from 1920 through 1933 and the thriving industry was crippled, with only a handful of breweries surviving.
The Matt family’s West End Brewing Company (now the Matt Brewing Company) of Utica was one of the survivors. It claims to be the first brewery to sell beer after the repeal of Prohibition and is still thriving today. In 2016 Copper City Brewing Company opened its door in Rome’s east side and brought locally brewed craft beer back to life in Rome.
Historian and Author Dan Shumway is set to share hoppy stories of the history of brewing in the Mohawk Valley on September 18th at 7 pm at the Rome Historical Society. Copper City Brewing Company will be on hand for this event pouring samples of their Rome brewed beer and sharing their story.
Dan Shumway is a beer and memorabilia collector and historian of breweries in Upstate New York. He is a member of Beer Collectibles Club of America, Eastern Coast Breweriana Association, American Breweriana Association, Herkimer County Historical Society, and president of the Officer Suds Chapter of BCCA.
The program is free and open to the public. Dan Shumway will do a book signing of his book: Utica Beer: A History of Brewing in the Mohawk Valley and will have copies for purchase.
The Rome Historical Society is located at 200 Church Street, Rome. More information is available on their website, or by calling (315) 336-5870.
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