BRIGGS IS BACK: Elmira native revives locally made cream ale nearly 100 years later
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- After nearly 100 years, one local entrepreneur is bringing back a beverage to store shelves and bars, originally made in Elmira.
This past summer, Elmira native Steve Shaw re-introduced the region to Briggs Cream Ale, as T. Briggs & Co. Originally located near the intersection of Second Street and State Street in the city, the ale was made during the 1860's before being shut down during prohibition in the 1920's.
"Like many good ideas, you sit at the bar and have a beer and a good idea forms, you know?"
Shaw explains how a visit to Horigan's bar a few years back and an inquiry into a tin sign led him to the idea to revive the beverage. The sign read "T. Briggs & Co." and after discovering the company had been based locally, it was a perfect fit.
"Retro brands have come back -- brands like PBR have definitely come back, Narragansett, brands like Iroquois beer out of Buffalo, brands like Congress Ale out of Syracuse. 'Genny' has kind of experienced a resurgence as well. So these pieces of the puzzle all started to kinda come together -- retro beer brands and retro brands in general -- started coming back and the timing seemed to be right the past about year or so," Shaw says.
Digging deeper into history for the time-period, the beverage at one point truly been a trend-setter for the whole industry.
"Briggs cream ale was once produced in Elmira in 1866 to 1920 so cream ales in general, cream ales as beer style were created and invented in Upstate New York," says Shaw.
As far as the original recipe goes, it may not be exact, but it's as close as possible.
"Who knows, the original recipe might be sitting under the pavement here on Clemens Center Parkway or it might be in some attic -- in some trunk in some attic...but what we try to do is create a cream ale that's as close as possible to the original pre-prohibition style of cream ales," Shaw explains.
The ale is currently being produced out of Quennsbury, New York but the long-term plan one day bring it back it its hometown.