Old Topper Snappy Ale

The city of Rochester, NY was a popular place for breweries at the end of the Twentieth Century. Its fertile soil made an excellent grain belt to grow wheat, barley and hops, and the Genesee River was an accessible water source for irrigation and ice houses. The city was extremely supportive of the industry, due in part to the employment it provided but more so due to the revenue generated by the liquor tax, estimated to be several hundred thousand dollars per year in the early 1900s!

Just like the village grew into a city, so grew the brewing industry in Rochester. It was a tremendous employer, of staff in the breweries but also in support industries such as bottling factories, ice houses, farmers, taverns and of course the sales force that can take much credit for growing the beer industry in Rochester and the surrounding areas.

Old Topper Snappy Ale, as you see it on your shirt, was first produced in 1934 by Rochester Brewing and was a very popular local brand. In 1956 the brewery merged with local rival, Standard Brewing Co and continued to brew Old Topper. However, shortly after the merger, the label was changed simply to Topper, and the font was updated to be more modern than its original Old English style.

During the 1960s more than 300 breweries across the USA went bankrupt, being unable to compete with the likes of Miller and Anheuser-Busch. Standard-Rochester hung on until 1970, leaving Genesee Brewing, which is still operational today, as the lone survivor in Rochester.

A small New Jersey brewery did acquire the rights to make Topper for a few years, but its production was short lived.