@HudsonPark’s Origins as Breweries

Posted by sunrise255 on October 18th, 2018

The buildings that where @HudsonPark Luxury Apartments now stand were originally part of two breweries.The brick building with red, star-shaped anchor plates that runs along Myrtle Avenue was built during Hinckel Brewing Company’s expansion of their Cataract brewery in 1880. It was used as a stable (above) for their delivery horses, and for barrel and cooper storage (below). Prior to the 1870s, the majority of the beer brewed in Albany was ale, and the city was know for the quality and strength of its “Albany Ale” which was exported across the western hemisphere. However, the Frederick Hinckel Brewing Company and the Cataract Brewery was one of the larger 19th century lager breweries in Albany. Lager and ale are the two main “families” of beer. Ale, (like IPA) is warm fermented, lager (like a Pilsner) is cool fermented, and then stored cold. Lager doesn’t really become pervasive until the expansion of commercial refrigeration at the end of the 19th century.

Frederick Hinckel (and his partner J.A. Schinnerer) opened his first brewery—the Cataract Brewery—on what would become Park Avenue, along Buttermilk Falls (“cataract” is an antiquated word for waterfall) in the early 1850s. In 1868 Hinckel bought out Schinnerer, and with the growing popularity of lager and the influx of European immigrants coming to the United States, by the late 1870s, it was clear that the brewery needed to expand and the company built a new complex. Construction was completed a year before Hinckel’s death in 1881, after which his sons William and Charles took over control of the brewery. Hinckel Brewing Co., continued to operate throughout the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. Most of their production was for local consumption, but they did export and bottle their beer into New England, specifically the Boston area. But, like the majority of breweries in the country, they closed due to national prohibition in 1920, never to reopen.

The second brewery to operate within your complex was the Dobler brewery. Opened in 1865 by John Wood, Dobler’s main facility was located across the street from the Cataract brewery on S. Swan Street, approximately where the Executive View Apartments are today. John Dobler bought the small brewery in 1868, and after Dobler’s death in 1885, the brewery was owned and operated by a number of people—including Dobler’s son August, Theodore Amsdell—previously a partner in the ale brewing Amsdell Brothers Brewing and Malting Company—and his son-in-law George Hawley. Just prior to prohibition the brewery was purchased by the Fieganspan Brewing Company of Newark, New Jersey. When national prohibition was instituted in 1920, Feiganspan shuttered operations at it original location in Newark, but continued to brew “near-beer” in Albany under the Dobler name. When the 21st amendment was enacted in 1933, repealing prohibition. Dobler reopened as a full-strength beer brewery and the Feiganspan’s eventually purchased the old Hinckel brewery across the street—including the building along Myrtle Avenue which Dobler used as part of their bottling operation. In 1943, Fieganspan Brewing Company was purchased by its Newark neighbor, the gigantic Ballantine Brewing Company, but Dobler was not part of the agreement. The Feiganspan family continued to run Dobler in Albany until it’s closure in 1960. The original brewery was razed during the construction of the Empire State Plaza, but the buildings on the western side of S. Swan were not. Although the brewery was no longer in operation, its name was licensed and Dobler brands were produced into the early 1970s.

Craig Gravina, co-founder Albany Ale Project, and co-author Upper Hudson Valley Beer


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