Perhaps the single greatest novelty of McSorley’s is that it has served one beverage in its 170 year history-Ale! “A rich, wax-color” is how author Joseph Mitchell described the McSorley’s brew in his 1943 book “McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon.” Fidelio Brewery is credited with originating the golden hued libation that McSorley’s is famous for. Unfortunately with the enactment of 18th Amendment — Prohibition, Fidelio was forced out of the beer making business.
With alcohol of any sort outlawed, brewing operations switched to the basement of McSorley’s Old Ale House where it remained business as usual until Prohibition ended. After this dryest chapter in American history the Fidelio Brewery returned as official brewers of McSorley’s Cream Stock Ale. Located on First Avenue and occupying the entire block between 29th and 30th Streets — the Brewery proudly carried huge billboards advertising both McSorley’s Cream Stock Ale and McSorley’s Famous Lager.
The 1940’s brought with it a world war and a new brewer of McSorley’s Ale. Fidelio expanded and changed their name to The Greater New York Brewery Unfortunately it was only a few years before The Greater New York Brewery went into receivership and the McSorley’s account went to the Rheingold Brewery and for the first time in it’s proud history, out of Manhattan and into Brooklyn. Rheingold carried on with the product for more than thirty years before finally closing operations and passing the brand to Schmidt’s Brewers of Philadelphia.
This marked the first time that the Ale was made without New York’s legendary water. In early 1990’s Stroh Brewery purchased the McSorley’s brand and brewed it until being bought by those seminal suds-makers-Pabst Brewing Company. McSorley’s Ale is available to consumers in both kegs and bottles throughout the East and of course at McSorley’s Old Ale House. Where you just might find, it tastes a little different!