Historians team up with local brewery to revive Congress Beer – The Daily Orange

A once-iconic Syracuse beer will be hitting local shelves again this summer.

Willow Rock Brewing Company has partnered with the Onondaga Historical Association to revive Congress Beer. The beverage was originally brewed by the Haberle Brewery from 1857 to 1962, said OHA executive director Gregg Tripoli. The idea of reviving Congress Beer was born five years ago and will be brought to fruition this summer.

Haberle was one of the many breweries to take advantage of central New York’s ideal environment for growing hops. This helped the region become the nation’s top supplier of hops in the late 19th century, Tripoli said.

No amount of hops could offset the Volstead Act, better known as Prohibition, which served as a dagger to a number of unsuspecting local breweries in 1919. Haberle, though, saw the writing on the wall and took steps in advance to ensure they outlived Prohibition. Bob Searing, curator of history at the OHA, said that since Haberle merged with local brewery Crystal Springs, in 1892, they were more established when the Volstead Act came into play.

“They had a large productive capacity, they had smart investors and they had diversified their product in advance — they were more prepared than other breweries,” he said.

Various sodas and Congo Beer — a “near beer” containing a minimal amount of alcohol — helped Haberle endure. This paved the way for their popular beer, Congress, to keep locals coming back into the years of the Kennedy administration.

Courtesy of the Onondaga Historical Association

Eventually, pests swarmed the region’s hops crops and put the remaining breweries out of business. Though Congress Beer has been gone for nearly 60 years, its legacy has thrived in the OHA gift shop through popular merchandise. As the paraphernalia flew off the shelves, Tripoli had the

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