In the late 19th century Syracuse sailed on rivers of suds.
Ever since Johann Mang established his small brewery in 1804 at Wolf and North Salina streets, bigger breweries began springing up across the city as Irish, English and German immigrants harvested hops and brewed beer to their hearts' content.
By 1896, Syracuse breweries cranked out about 300,000 barrels of beer and employed about 400 workers, according to biologist and home brewer Peter Ensminger, a writer for the Great Lakes Brewing News. At one time, 32 different beers were brewed in Syracuse, making the city the state's brewery capital.
Last week, downtown's Erie Canal Museum opened an exhibit celebrating Canaltown Suds: Syracuse Breweries of the Canal Era. Visitors will gawk at Haberle trays and Congress coasters, bottles and cans from Zett's, National and Bartel's.
Curators Dan Ward and Jeffrey Renno even dug up an unopened green bottle of Greenway's, from one of the city's biggest breweries which operated from 1858 to 1952. So the beer on exhibit is at least as old as I am. Unlike that flat suds, however, I'm still carbonated and plenty fresh!
Canaltown Suds is complemented by the museum's standing exhibit, Bartolotta's Tavern, a reproduction of a mid-1800s towpath tavern where Erie Canal travelers would stop for food, drink and gossip.
The Erie Canal Museum is located downtown at 318 Erie Blvd. East, a couple blocks east of Hanover Square; 471-0593; eriecanalmuseum.org.
Cavallo at Shhots and Paradise
Jimmy Cavallo entertained hundreds of downtown revelers at Festa Italiana last weekend, and he'll continue to let the good times roll from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Sept. 25, at Shhots Pub, 2026 Teall Ave. Admission, which includes a buffet dinner, costs $20; 399-5700
Syracuse's 83-year-old Godfather of Rock'n'Roll will play a free show the next day, from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at The Paradise Market, 3179 Erie Blvd. East; 445-1445.