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former Fred Koch Brewery, Dunkirk, NY

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In the spring of 1888, Fred Koch and Frank Werle established the Lake City Brewery and began operation in the old Fink brewery facility in the town of Dunkirk, New York. That fall, the company built a new brewery in the city of Dunkirk. After a disastrous fire in 1896, Fred Koch purchased his partner’s interest and the brewery would be owned and operated by the Koch family. Incorporated in 1911, Fred Koch’s sons, William, Fred, and Henry, would continue operations until Prohibition in 1920.

Between 1920 and 1933, the Fred Koch Beverage Company would produce soft drinks, including popular licensed products “Orange Crush”, Welch’s “Welch-ade”, and “Green River”. Following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the Fred Koch Brewery received a permit to again produce beer and ale and introduced several new brands, including Pale Lager Beer, Deer Run Ale, and Koch’s Bock Beer. To commemorate the brewery’s 50th anniversary, Koch’s Golden Anniversary Beer was created in 1938 and, due to popular demand, Golden Anniversary Beer production continued after the anniversary year. Temporarily discontinued between 1946 and 1948 due to material shortages, “Golden Annie” production would resume and become one of the region’s most popular brews.

Other popular Koch’s products during the post-war period included Koch’s Lager, Deer Run Pale Ale, and Holiday Beer. In 1961, the Fred Koch Brewery contracted to brew the Black Horse Ale brand, and in late 1971, Koch’s obtained a franchise agreement to brew and market Simon Pure Beer and Old Abbey Ale. By the late 1970s, to offset sagging market share, the brewery had diversified by producing additional well-known regional brands like Iroquois, Phoenix, and Bavarian’s Select.

Purchased by Vaux Breweries of Sunderland, England in 1981, the Fred Koch Brewery would be sold to the Genesee Brewing Company in 1985. Genesee would subsequently close the Dunkirk brewery and move all Koch’s production to Rochester in 1985. While most of the well-known Koch’s brands were discontinued by the early 1990s, Koch’s Golden Anniversary Beer lasted until the early 2000s. Unfortunately, Genesee Brewing Company no longer produces any products using the Koch’s name.

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