Originally established in 1890, the Buffalo Brewing Company was started by Herman Grau based on the successful breweries of Buffalo, New York. An ambitious brewery from the beginning, Buffalo became among the largest beer operations west of the Mississippi, with distribution throughout California, Nevada, Hawaii, parts of Asia and Central America. Prohibition reduced Buffalo to producing ice and near beer, but it quickly resumed beer production after repeal. The brewery ceased operation in 1945 after national breweries locked up distribution channels and choked regional and local breweries into extinction. However, in the 1970’s, two enterprising law school graduates re-launched the Buffalo label in Sacramento. After a promising start and apparent success, the upstart operation folded only a few year later and the Buffalo has not roamed in Sacramento ever since. That is until we came along.
The Buffalo Brewery was the inspiration that sparked New Helvetia Brewing Co. Buffalo is a reminder of a time when Sacramento accomplished big things. Despite being in a relatively small town, despite a lack of technology or infrastructure, Buffalo Brewing Co. built a brewery and a brand that exemplified the pioneering spirit of the American West. Nostalgia still remains for Buffalo Beer breweriana, and remnants can be found all over Northern California. New Helvetia introduced "Buffalo Craft Lager" as a homage to the importance of Buffalo Brewery to Sacramento, both our history and our evolution as a city.
You will find artifacts from both the original Buffalo Brewery, and the 1970s edition. Take a look at the maps and posters on the walls, they tell a story. The display case showcases some of the coolest, and rarest Buffalo Beer artifacts anywhere. Say hello to "Thurston", our carved wooden buffalo head. According to the Central Valley rancher who delivered to us, it came out of an original Buffalo Brewery tavern (there were many). Whether true or not, we don't care. Thurston is part of our story now.