Did you know Rochester is home to New York’s oldest brewery? Genesee Brewery to be Exact. Celebrating a 140th anniversary is a major milestone for the Genesee family, and the city of Rochester.
The classics put Genesee Brewery on the map back in 1878. The brand has since evolved, becoming more and more relevant in the craft beer scene. Today, experiencing the craft of Genesee means so much more than cracking open a can of Genny Light.
Cream ale is one of the few beer styles born and raised in the USA. Genesee gets credit for debuting this style in 1960. Cream ale’s popularity grew then, and decades later Genesee Brewery is leading the resurgence.
If you’re at all interested in the history of American beer, not to mention NYS beer, Genesee Brew House should be on your list of cool things to experience this summer. At $4 a flight, a tasting is always a must. The selection changes often, and there’s always a guest tap. Regardless of whether you’re in the tasting room, at the bar, or at a table, the staff is ready and willing to share tasting recommendations.
After a day of tasting, our personal favorites were the Orange Honey Cream Ale, Ruby Red Kölsch, and Simcoe S.M.A.S.H. Pale Ale.
- Orange Honey Cream Ale – Orange Honey Cream Ale is the brewery’s first spin off of Genesee Cream Ale. This beer literally tastes like summertime in a glass. The crisp citrus is complemented by sweet honey and just enough hops. Pour a pint to taste why Orange Honey Cream Ale is a favorite among beer drinkers of all types.
- Ruby Red Kölsch – The Ruby Red Kölsch is here for the season, too. One sniff and you’ll smell the ruby red aroma. While this pour may taste like a glass of grapefruit juice, the German-style beer comes in at 4.5% ABV. If you prefer mild hops and crisp flavor, this might become your go-to drink come summertime.
- Simcoe S.M.A.S.H. Pale Ale – IPA drinkers, this one’s for you. The Simcoe S.M.A.S.H. is a single malt, single hop beer. This brewing technique lets you taste a specific hop, in this case Simcoe. The citrus aroma and piney flavor combine to create a pale ale that’s smooth and very drinkable.
All in all, Genesee has a beer for every drinker on any occasion. Fun fact – the beers are tested in the tasting room via an iPad app to see what consumers think before new brews hit the marketplace. Like any successful business, Genesee takes feedback seriously, and customer input is always welcome.
The Genesee Brew House opened in 2012, and the restaurant’s motto of putting beer in as many menu items as possible is totally working for them. We’re into it. Here’s what we tried and loved:
- Bavarian Pretzels – Always order the Bavarian pretzels. End of story. These pretzel sticks are a customer fave for a reason. The beer cheese is absolute perfection. If you have a sweet tooth, you may appreciate the maple bacon peanut butter sauce. Pairing wise, order a pint of Orange Honey Cream Ale or Ruby Red Kölsch to wash down this starter.
- Seasonal Sausage Platter – If you love sausage, this platter is a must. The sausage is locally sourced from Swan Market. The sausage selection may change seasonally, but the seasoning is always on point. Plus, there’s a sizable serving of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut to complete this meal. #yaaaaas
Part of the Genesee experience is understanding the roots. Over the last 140 years, Genesee has majorly impacted the Rochester region. With High Falls and the city skyline as the brewery’s backdrop, the location naturally appeals to locals and tourists.
The History Museum is full of stories. Walking through is a very visual and interactive experience where you can learn a fact or few about Genesee Brewery’s past and present. Before you leave, def check out the store to stock up on Genesee swag.
Meeting The Brewmaster
“Cream ale [is] my favorite beer in the whole entire world.” -Dean Jones
Upon meeting Brewmaster Dean Jones, his wealth of knowledge and passion are evident, as well as his sense of humor. Dean took the time to show us around, and tell us the story of how he started drinking Genesee Cream Ale (at age 8). We’re obsessed.
Fast forward to today, and cream ale is still his favorite.
Brewmastering is truly an art and a science, it involves creative thinking and experimentation aka lots of trial and error. A few summers ago, Dean decided to add orange peels to cream ale, and to offset the bitterness he added sucrose and honey… and suddenly Orange Honey Cream Ale was born.
Celebrating 140 Years
“We make cool a$$ craft beer.” -Dean Jones
In honor of the 140th anniversary, every month Dean pulls recipes from past brewmasters, and gives them a new twist. The very first was the Pre-Prohibition Malt Pilsner. He found the recipe from 1887, which called for wagon loads of malt and bushels of hops and ventured to the Genesee Country Museum to measure malt by wagon. That’s dedication.
Coming up in May, you can look forward to a Lemon Drop Cream Ale.
How long will it take me to get there from Buffalo?
Genesee Brew House is only an hour-ish drive away, and it’s 100% worth the trip. But, did you know you can find Genesee Brewery beers right here in Buffalo if you need a quick fix? Craft-centric bars including Colter Bay, Coles, and Brennan’s, and many other craft centric bars in Buffalo often have Genesee classics and new additions on tap. You can also find Genesee beers at Consumer Beverages, Wegmans, and Tops. Pro Tip: there’s a handy-dandy beer finder on Genesee’s website to point you in the right direction.
If you head to Colter Bay, you can order Genesee’s Orange Honey Cream Ale, Ruby Red Kölsch, Genny Cream Ale, or Scotch Ale, or all of the above.
Check ‘Em Out
“Good Times for All Times” is truly a fitting tagline for this place. After spending the day drinking, eating, and touring with these guys, we highly recommend making the day trip to the 585.
Genesee Brew House
25 Cataract St. Rochester, NY