READY TO GO — Massive 20-foot by 60-foot fermentation tanks – ready to be delivered to Genesee Brewing Company in Rochester via the Erie Canal – rest on barges on the Hudson River in Albany, where they arrived earlier this week. The tanks are a key aspect of a $40 million private investment by Genesee’s parent company, North American Breweries, to create one of the most advanced brewing systems in the world at the Genesee Brewery. Each of the 12 tanks being delivered has an operating capacity of 2,000 barrels of beer, equivalent to approximately 661,440 12 oz. beers. (Photo submitted)

Big beer tanks being hauled to Rochester brewery via Erie Canal

Published May 19, 2017 at 4:00pm

WATERFORD (AP) — The first of a dozen massive fermentation tanks destined for Rochester brewery has started its westward journey aboard a barge on the Erie Canal.

The 20-foot-by-60-foot tanks arrived earlier this month at the Port of Albany, where they were placed on barges. A barge with the first three tanks passed through the locks at the canal’s eastern end at Waterford Friday.

“Rarely do you find a combination of two institutions with such incredibly rich histories,” says Brian Stratton, director of the New York State Canal Corporation, which is responsible for the oversight, administration and maintenance of the New York State Canal System, including the Erie Canal. “Genesee Brewing Company’s use of the Erie Canal highlights the continued viability of the canal for commercial activity, as well as recreation. It’s an honor for the canal to play such a key role in a project like Genesee’s brewery modernization – which has real benefits for the economy of New York.”

Last week’s original departure date was delayed because of high water levels caused by recent heavy rain.

The tanks were manufactured in China. They’re too large to transport long distance by truck or rail, so they’re being hauled the 225 miles to Rochester via canal. The tanks are headed to the Genesee Brewing Co. in downtown Rochester. The brewery is undergoing a $40 million expansion project and will use the new tanks for fermentation.

In recent years, Genesee Brewing Company has experienced a resurgence, with growing sales, new consumer demand and increased interest in the company’s heritage. Genesee’s parent company, North American Breweries, responded with a $40 million private investment to create one of the most advanced brewing systems in the world, a project that relies on transporting 12 huge new fermentation tanks – too large to be transported by rail or truck – on a 225-mile barge trip down the historic Erie Canal.

“The first set of our new 60-foot by 20-foot tanks are now entering the canal, headed to our home in Rochester,” said Janine Schoos, associate marketing director for the Genesee family, who added that Genesee is encouraging onlookers who are 21 and older to raise their glasses in celebration of the tanks’ historic passage. “This is a moment worth celebrating for Genesee Brewing Company, and for our fans. In fact, we’re encouraging patrons at the many restaurants and bars located directly along the canal to raise a bottle, can or glass of their favorite Genesee beer to toast the tanks and celebrate this historic event. Fans can post a photo on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages with #TOASTTHETANKS.”

The tanks are expected to be in the Utica, Rome and New London area on Friday, May 26.