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Iroquois Brewery History
Buffalo, NY


The Iroquois Brewery was the successor to the Jacob Roos Brewery, which was founded in 1842.

The original brewery was located between Hickory and Pratt Streets in Buffalo, New York and was operated by Jacob Roos and, after his death, by George Roos.

In 1892, the operation was sold to Leonard Burgwerger, who razed the buildings and built a new brewery on the site. This was the start of the Iroquois Brewery, which would become one of the oldest and longest-lasting breweries in Buffalo.

Iroquois survived Prohibition by brewing soft drinks and near beer. With the reintroduction of beer, Iroquois grew and prospered after Prohibition ended in April 1933 and became the largest brewer in Buffalo; eventually reaching a capacity of 600,000 barrels per year. During the period immediately following the end of Prohibition, Iroquois operated multiple breweries in the greater Buffalo area, including the former facilities of Mohawk (closed in 1936) and Van Buren (closed in 1950).

In the 1950s, Iroquois merged with a group of other regional brewers to form the International Brewing Company. This new venture included the Silver Bar Brewing Company of Tampa, Florida, the Frankenmuth Brewery of Frankenmuth, Michigan, and Old Dutch Brewing of Findlay, Ohio. Despite an attempt to build the merged companies into a large national network, the brands remained regional in nature and, in 1965, Iroquois again became an independent brewery.

At the time of its closing in 1971, Iroquois had outlived all other Buffalo breweries except for the William Simon Brewing Company, which closed a year later. Because the Iroquois brand name was well-known and highly regarded in the region, the brand was kept alive for several years by a succession of regional brewers. These included the Meister Brau Brewery, of Toledo, Ohio, which closed in 1972, the August Wagner Brewery of Columbus, Ohio, closed in 1974, the Erie Brewing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, which ceased operation in 1976, and the Fred Koch Brewery of Dunkirk, NY, which lasted until about 1980.

Throughout the post-Prohibition era, the Iroquois Brewery used several promotional slogans; the most prominent being Famous Since 1842. This traced the company’s roots back to the original Jacob Roos Brewery, founded in that year. Other slogans commonly featured were Premium Quality, Kettle Brewed, and Fully Aged.

To compliment its original Iroquois Beer and Ale, the Brewery introduced Tomahawk Ale, which became so popular it eventually surpassed sales of Iroquois Ale. Brewed for Braves was the popular slogan used to promote Tomahawk Ale.

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Iroquois Beer refrigerator car with Indian head logo.Iroquois Beer refrigerator car with script logo.


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