23 Genesee

Genesee Beer

Who are they?

Founded in 1878, Genesee is one of the largest and oldest operating breweries in America.  Located in Rochester new York. The Genesee brewhouse was once apart of the Genesee brew campus founded over 100 years ago. But they were the always on top of the game. They had to have come from somewhere. Beer was a booming business in Rochester long before Genesee showed up. In 1857, one of the many breweries landing in the city, Reisky & Sky, opened its own saloon and bowling alley. This was the location that local entrepreneur Mathius Kondolf purchased and renamed Genesee Brewing in 1878.

What made them so popular?

The Genesee company back in the year 1952 started to attract a real crowd of people to the brewhouse by having the customers ask for Jenny.  Who is Jenny you ask?

The brewery’s nickname, Jenny or Genny, has likely been around for decades but its 1952 ad campaign made it clear for everyone not already in the know. According to Genesee records, the original ad featured model and actress Daphne Dore(though some still question the identity of the first Jenny) balancing a pint of Genesee beer on a tray. A tagline invited customers to “ask for Jenny.”


Company and product development.

Through the years Genesse made smart business and product choices to keep on reaching the next level and staying up top in New York. For instance, after fellow New Yorkers Other Half Brewing from Brooklyn launched a satellite location in Bloomfield, just a half an hour drive from Rochester, local journalist Will Cleveland had an idea. Other Half should brew a beer with its new neighbor, Genesee. Both breweries agreed, and got to brewing. Genesee brewmaster Dean Jones and Other Half’s Sam Richardson merged Cream Ale with elements of the Brooklyn-based brewery’s Dream and Daydream series. The collaboration resulted in Genny Dream Ale, an oat cream ale with lactose and a dose of Citra hops. The smooth, creamy beer came with an exquisite hoppy taste.

How did prohibition affect Genesee?

Things were not always sunshine in rainbows for the Genesee company. every single alcohol company in the world was hit hard by prohibition.

When the brewery shut down during Prohibition, the elder Wehle opened a bakery and earned enough money to purchase Genesee Brewing in 1932, just in time to reopen it as the Genesee Brewing Company.

Jack Wehle, who joined the company at age 22, took over as chairman when his father passed away in 1964. Jack’s son, Ted Wehle, would later succeed him in 1993. When Ted passed away in 1999, that ended the Wehle family’s 67-year legacy running the brewery.

His business was so successful that he was able to sell it in 1929 for $1.3 million, which he then used to purchase the old Genesee Brewery as well as a neighboring brewery just in time for the repeal of Prohibition. He even hired as many of the former Genesee employees as he could.

Genesee is one of the few breweries in the country that can say where it was when Prohibition ended. The company restarted shipping beer on April 27, 1933. To mark that milestone, Louis Wehle hosted a massive party. The event brought 4,000 attendees to the Powers Hotel in Rochester.

Wehle also marked the end of Prohibition with a new beer: 12 Horse Ale an English style ale. He went all out for the marketing of it too, designing a 12 horse hitch, the first of its kind. Twelve red roan Belgian horses hitched in rows of three pulled a red wagon from bar to bar. A businessman making fantastic business decisions, Wehle made sure to trademark his one of a kind hitch, making it the first official stamp of ownership for the brewery.

What is going on with Genesee now?

In 2019, John Fischer retired from his position as Genesee’s corporate brewmaster. He’d been brewing there since 1967, making him the brewer with the longest tenure at the company. And while he did take a three-year leave of absence to serve in the military, he came back and created Honey Brown, a golden amber lager with a malty flavor.


Brewing science and Industrialization

The Genesee Brewing company has come along way since their doors first opened. They now have expanded to, “where a team of 600 workers have the capability of brewing, bottling, packaging and shipping up to 13,000 barrels of beer every day. Put another way, that is nearly 4.3 million cases of 12-ounce cans”(O’shie, Para.3)This does not put them up in the top of the crowd but this does help them climb the ladder of the north eastern market.


This is industrial growth of the company is coming from, “when the brewery completes a $40 million-plus modernization that will have Genny, a division of North American Breweries, producing batches that are half the size, but faster and with more efficiency, and an expanded ability to produce different types of beer. “(O’shie, Para.4)  With this new investment company can now start to produce more numbers and hit a higher number of returning and even new customers.


One of the biggest customizations coming with the modernization is the introduction of a new mash filter. “Genesee is in the midst now of modernizing this process to become much more efficient. Soon, the lauter tun will be replaced by a mash filter that works more “like a French press,” Kaplan said, finely milling the malts to the consistency of flour and then squeezing the wort from the grains.”(O’shie, Para.10)  This will allow more of the sugars to be fermented, as well leaving an good amount left over to add sweetness. Giving them the option for a lighter, drier, low carbohydrate and calorie; or a heavy, sweat, and malty beer depending on the amount of sugars that are fermented .



Beer Style


The Genesee Brewery has been making beer for a long time, and they have dabbled in a wide variety beer styles, and not just that have had competition winning beers of a wide range.

Genesee Brew House Pilot Batch Dark Chocolate Scotch Ale World Beer Cup Chocolate Beer 2018
Genesee Brew House Pilot Batch Dark Chocolate Scotch Ale Great American Beer Festival Chocolate Beer 2018
J.W. Dundee’s Pale Bock Great American Beer Festival Bock 2005
Genesee Red Lager Great American Beer Festival Vienna-Style Lager 2005
Genesee Red Lager Great American Beer Festival Vienna-Style Lager 2004
JW Dundee’s Honey Brown Lager World Beer Cup Specialty Honey Lagers or Ales 2004
Genesee Non-Alcoholic World Beer Cup Non-Alcoholic (Beer) Malt Beverage 2002
JW Dundee’s Honey Brown Lager World Beer Cup Specialty Honey Lagers or Ales 2000
Michael Shea’s Irish Amber World Beer Cup American-Style Amber Lager 2000
Dundee’s Classic Lager Great American Beer Festival American-Style Premium Lager 1999
Michael Shea’s Irish Amber Great American Beer Festival Vienna Lager 1995
Black Horse Ale Great American Beer Festival Blond/Golden Ales 1988
12 Horse Ale Great American Beer Festival Blond/Golden Ales 1988
Koch’s Golden Anniversary Beer Great American Beer Festival American Lagers 1987


This list is a collection of prize winning beers of all different varieties, from chocolate beers, to American lagers.

Genesee has never been one for a distinct flavor or only one type of beer. They have their hands in many different places though out the market.  But some of their most iconic brews have been the cream ale.  “The goal was simple: a beer with the flavor of an ale and the smoothness of a lager. That’s how Genesee Cream became an American original. Today, every batch of Cream Ale is skillfully brewed to achieve its smooth character and a remarkably creamy white head worthy of its name.”(Genesee brew co., 2022) Another icon for Genesee is the 12 horse ale. “Golden English style ale with low hop bitterness – crisp and refreshing.” (Genesee brew co., 2022)

These iconic brews have helped set Genesee apart from a lot their competition.


World War I and World War II Era


During the World Wars any sort of involvement or affect of the time in history on Genesee is pretty thin. Yet we can assume they were affected along the same lines as other brewers during the time.  “For example during WWI there was a good deal of breweries in America that were own by German- Americans.  Which allowed room for the American born brewers to step up through propaganda to try and gain some ground with the other Americans.  Although the German-Americans used propaganda and a more English language approach to show their patriotism.”  (national WWII museum, Para.4)

Then during WWII with the new German enemy straight ahead, “Brewers were delighted to oblige and used the opportunity to promote themselves as patriots, and their beers as “nutritional” due to the vitamin B in brewer’s yeast. After suffering attacks and public distrust throughout the First World War, beer brewers launched public campaigns informing the American public of their contributions to the war effort.” (national WWII museum, Para.8)


Consolidation ( Post War)

The Genesee Brewery was able to thrive since the war as well in recent years as mentioned previously with their expansion of technology and brewing methods.  There is is not much none exactly about what happened right after the wars were over but, Some of the key factors to their success came from the purchase of the brewery by The whele family. ” The Whele family continued to run the brewery until 1999.” (NY historical, Para. 1) After 1999, The brewery “we were purchased by KPS (a private equity firm from NYC) and formed North American Breweries in 2009. (NY Historical, Para.1) The North American Breweries or FIFCO USA are comprised of some the top breweries in America.

Media and Marketing


Genesee was able to start its legacy early by drawing a crowd in to its brewhouse when their their huge campaign was “come on in and ask for Genny.”(Genesee, para. 5) asking for Genny was a stable for any customer that came in looking for a great night with great beer.  Through out the years the company made great use of their products and created images or poster, and ideas that the customers were able to see and imagine, creating these creatives ads for their products like the 12 Horses Ale they made a 12 horse hitch, the first of its kind. Twelve red roan Belgian horses hitched in rows of three pulled a red wagon from bar to bar. Things like these made the Genesee company stand out on a huge scale compared to their competition.

Modern Era


In the Modern Era of Genesee They have been making real change for better. Like mentioned previously, in 1999 they were Bought by KPS and joined the NAB as part of FIFCO USA hoping to us this ground for the expansion they are currently doing.  In 2001 They created a new package design. and entered it to the World Cup of Beer along with some of their beers. “At the World Beer Cup the following year, Genesee beer receives a “Best New Package Design” award and Genny Cream Ale triumphs with a gold medal. At the Great American Beer Festival, Genny Cream Ale takes home a bronze medal.”(Genesee, Para 9)Part of their big expansion came in 2011 when “Genesee unveils its new 24-ounce canning line at the brewery. The $3.5 million investment is capable of filling 360,000 cans a day over 3 shifts.”(Genesee, para. 10) These are just some of the ways that Genesee really made change for the better in the modern era.


All information from text was used and paraphrased from: https://vinepair.com/articles/genesee-brewery-guide/


all photos used in page:









unit 2 references

O’Shei, T. (2017, August 31). Inside genesee brewing: How malting, mashing and yeast make Genny Beer. Buffalo News. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://buffalonews.com/business/local/inside-genesee-brewing-how-malting-mashing-and-yeast-make-genny-beer/article_01bb218f-eee3-5c5f-9327-3a13f3f63a99.html

Brewing Beers of Distinction. Genesee Brewery. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://www.geneseebeer.com/beers-of-distinction/

Genesee Brew House. Genesee Brewery. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://www.geneseebeer.com/brewhouse/whatsontap/

Malloryk. (2021, April 6). How World War II saved American beer brewing: The National WWII Museum: New Orleans. The National WWII Museum | New Orleans. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/how-world-war-ii-saved-american-beer-brewing

unit 3 references

Genesee Brewing brings history to its brew house. New-York Historical Society. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2022, from https://www.nyhistory.org/blogs/genesee

About Us. FIFCO USA. (2020, October 5). Retrieved April 10, 2022, from https://www.fifcousa.com/about-us/

About. Genesee Brewery. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2022, from https://www.geneseebeer.com/about/




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Beer Through the Ages Copyright © by Jordanne Christie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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