Jacob Roos Brewery (Broadway Bet Church & York Sts) 1830-1840
George Roos (95 Roos & Pratt Sts) 1874-1887
Roos Cooperative Brewing Co. 1887-1892
Iroquois Brewing Co. (210/256 Pratt St.) 1892-1920
International Breweries, inc. 1955-1967
Iroquois Brewing Co., Div. of Iroquois Ind.. 1967-1971
This brewery which was started by Jacob Roos would eventually become one of Buffalo's most well-known and largest post-Prohibition producers of beer and ale. The Roos Brewery was also incorrectly credited as being Buffalo's first brewery. In fact, it may have been second or third.1
In the 1830's Jacob Roos, "whose plant was located in what was then called "Sandy Town" between Church and York Streets," started business in Buffalo.2 Roos was reported to have supplied his customers by transporting his brew in a wheelbarrow loaded with half-kegs of ale. In 1840 Roos moved his brewery to a new location between Hickory and Pratt Sts.3 He ran the brewery there until his death on November 27, 1867.4
The brewery's operation was continued by George Roos. In 1869-1870 George sold 8,165 barrels. Between 1887-1888 Roos brewery sold 20,750 barrels (with a capacity of 50,000 barrels), showing considerable growth.5 Later, George Roos put his name on the brewery and it was listed as such until about 1892.
In 1893 Leonard Burgwerger bought the site where the Roos brewery stood, razed it, and constructed a new one on the lot. This was the start of the Iroquois Brewing Company. Burgwerger, who had started other breweries in Chicago and Kansas City, set himself up as president and general manager of Iroquois. Also involved with this venture were William and Philip Bartholomay and Henry Burgwerger, who was secretary and general superintendent.6 Philip Bartholomay was vice-president and treasurer.7
Around the turn of the century some of the brands available were "Bohemian," "Salvator," and "Indian Head Special Brew." Iroquois had distribution offices in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Orleans, the business continued to flourish right up until prohibition.8 When Iroquois made soda pop. After repeal, Iroquois was one of the first breweries to start up production.
While most other Buffalo breweries were destined to close by the mid-1950's, Iroquois kept growing and taking over many of the other breweries in town. The Gerhard Lang Brewery was the largest pre-Prohibition Brewer in Buffalo, and Iroquois became the largest producer after Prohibition. By the 1950's, under the ownership of the Weigel Family Iroquois became the biggest brewer Buffalo had ever known. In 1952 the brewery put out 500,000 barrels of beer and employed 550 men, with a peak output at 607,000 barrels. In the 1950's Iroquois brewery alone sold 40% of all beer drank in Buffalo and produced more beer than all four of their local competitors combined.9
In March of 1955, Iroquois Beverage Corporation merged with Frankenmuth Brewing Co. of Michigan and became part of the International Breweries Company.10 This new mega-brewer seemed to be on the way to becoming a national superpower in the brewing industry, but as history tells, it did not. In 1971 the economic pressure of the other midwestern national mega-brewers proved too great, and they shut down for good.