January 23 – Happy Birthday Harry Bowler

harrybowlerHere is an excerpt from my story about this highly respected Amsterdam beer maker. His entire story appears in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order a copy, click here.

I’ve been quietly hoping that some entrepreneur would open a craft beer brewery in Amsterdam, N.Y. New York State currently has some attractive financial incentives for brew master wannabee’s and Amsterdam certainly has plenty of vacant space that would make perfect sites for such an operation. You can bet that if today’s birthday celebrant had been alive he’d have jumped at the opportunity. After all, Harry Fitch Bowler came to Amsterdam 125 years ago and started a brewery from scratch without a dime of public money. And who knows? If Bowler himself had not passed away in 1917 and/or Congress failed to pass the Volstead act, which put Prohibition in place two years later, the Amsterdam Brew made by Bowler Brewery might have evolved into one of this country’s best-selling suds-topped libations.

3626169495_0749d994be_bHarry Bowler was born in Ipswich, England on January 23, 1854. Four years later his family moved to Troy, NY where young Harry attended the city’s public schools. He then moved to Richmond, Virginia as a young adult where he evidently apprenticed in a brewery. He then came back north got married to his first wife and went to work for breweries in Troy, Hudson and Albany, NY respectively. By 1889 he was ready to go into business for himself and he chose Amsterdam as the site of his new venture.

The first Bowler Brewery opened up on Amsterdam’s West Main Street that same year. Six years later, the wooden frame structure burnt to the ground and in its place Bowler built a huge brick plant on the corner of West Main and Ann Streets and…

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