Genesee Brewing Company

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Genesee Brewing Company
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1878
Headquarters 445 Saint Paul Street, Rochester, New York, 14605, Rochester, New York, USA
Area served
USA, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom
Products Beer
Owner Cerveceria Costa Rica S.A.
Number of employees
Divisions Dundee Brewing Company, Honey Brown, Seagram's, Imperial, Labatt Blue Lime, Rock Wall Brewing, Contract Business

Genesee Brewing Company is an American brewery located along the Genesee River in Rochester, New York. In 1878 Genesee Brewing Company moved up into Rochester. From 2000 to 2009 the company was known as the High Falls Brewing Company. In 2009 High Falls was acquired by the capital investment firm KPS Capital. Together with also newly acquired Labatt USA, KPS merged the two companies as North American Breweries. Along with this change, High Falls Brewery changed its name back to the original "Genesee Brewing Company" operating under the North American Breweries name. In October 2012, North American Breweries was purchased by Cerveceria Costa Rica S.A.

According to 2012 figures, North American Breweries was the sixth-largest brewing company in America by sales volume.[1]


Genesee Brewery on a bluff above the Genesee River in Rochester, New York

The Aqueduct Spring Brewery, the first brewery located in Rochester, New York, opened in 1819. In 1857, Rau & Reisky Brewery, later changed to Reisky & Spies, was established. In 1878, Reisky & Spies was purchased and renamed as the Genesee Brewery. In 1932, after the repeal of Prohibition, the company was reopened as the Genesee Brewing Company.[2]

In December 1984, it purchased the Fred Koch Brewery of Dunkirk, NY. At the time The Fred Koch Brewery was owned by Vaux Breweries of Sunderland, England.[3] In the previous year Koch sold about 55,000 barrels of beer, compared with Genesee's 3.2 million. Genesee transferred the brewing of Koch's brands to Rochester which it continued through the 2000s.

In 2000, the company was sold to an employee investment group, and the company's name was changed to High Falls Brewing Company. In 2007, Norman Snyder was named CEO of the company, and announced a change in the Genesee brand labeling, which highlights a more classic look.[4] The company also unveiled a new corporate website and increased marketing of the Genesee brand of beers.

In February 2009, High Falls Brewery was sold to a New York City investment group KPS Capital Partners to be run as part of its North American Breweries subsidiary.[5]

In June 2009, North American Breweries announced that the name of the brewery would be changed back to Genesee Brewing Company to reflect the company's long history.[6]

In October, 2012, it was purchased by Cerveceria Costa Rica S.A a subsidiary of Florida Ice and Farm Company in an all cash deal for $338 million. Cerveceria is a brewery located in San Jose, Costa Rica. The company’s product portfolio includes beer, bottled water, natural fruit drinks, juices and other beverages. The new owner stated that "The workforce, the current leadership, the current operation will remain as they have been." [7]


Genesee Beer[edit]

Genesee Beer first appeared in 1878, and has 4.5% alcohol volume.[8]

Genesee Light[edit]

Genesee Light was launched in 1978 as "Genny Lite" and has 3.6% alcohol volume.[9] It was rebranded to Genesee Light in May 2015.

Genesee Cream Ale[edit]

Genesee Cream Ale has 5.2% alcohol volume and was originally brewed in 1960. The beer is recognized for winning two consecutive gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival.[10]

Genesee Ice Beer[edit]

Genesee Ice Beer was introduced in 1993 and has 5.5% alcohol by volume.[11]

Dundee Ales & Lagers[edit]

In 1994, Genesee introduced J.W. Dundee's Honey Brown, which has proven to be one of their most popular brews. It won a Gold Medal at the 1994 World Beer Cup. In 2006 High Falls added two new beers to the J.W. Dundee's family, J.W. Dundee's American Pale Ale and J.W. Dundee's American Amber Lager. In June 2008, the company announced a re-branding of the J.W. Dundee line, which is now called Dundee Ales and Lagers.

Seagram's Escapes[edit]

Along with the formation of North American Breweries, Genesee purchased all of the brand rights to Seagram's Escapes Flavored Coolers in the US. Seagram's Escapes are part of the Flavored Malt Beverage category and provide a variety of flavored alcoholic beverages. As of November 2009, all Seagram's Escapes are produced out of the Rochester based facility.

Rock Wall Brewing Co.[edit]

In late 2010, Genesee Brewing developed a new product line under the Rock Wall brewing name. Rock Wall Brewing produces a high alcohol malt liquor product, known as Dog Bite High Gravity.

Imported beverages[edit]

Genesee had an exclusive contract to import Cerveza Imperial from Costa Rica before its 2012 acquisition by Cerveceria Costa Rica.

Genesee owns the U.S. import rights to Labatt Brewing Company's beers, which originate from Canada. Labatt products are brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, but Anheuser Busch InBev cannot produce or distribute the brand in the United States because it is popular enough in Western New York to raise antitrust problems, prompting the company to contract with Genesee for U.S. distribution of the brand.[12]

Contract brewing[edit]

Genesee brews for Blue Point Brewing Company, Seven Kings Brewery, and Narragansett Brewing Company.

Genesee is also a regional brewer for Mike's Hard Lemonade and other malt beverage products, with Genesee Brewing Company producing almost all of the Mike's sold to the east coast market.

Genesee contract manufactures Mountain Brew Beer Ice, and Stew Brew for Stewart's Shops, along with Big Flats 1901 for Walgreens.

Sainsbury's American Pale Ale and Tap Room IPA in the UK are brewed by the Genesee Brewery under the pseudonym Tap Room Brewing Co,. These are 5.3% and 6.3% ABV own branded beers under their "Taste the difference" label.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°09′54″N 77°36′55″W / 43.1649°N 77.6152°W / 43.1649; -77.6152