Huge tanks travel to Rochester via Erie Canal

May 15, 2017

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.
Credit provided

The Genesee Brewery in Rochester is waiting on the arrival of two massive fermentation tanks, which will play a key part in its $49 million expansion.

"They hold about 2,000 barrels of beer but most people don't relate to barrels. It's about 660,000 12-ounce servings in each fermenter, "said Mark Fabrizio, director for project management at North American Breweries, Genesee Brewing Company’s parent company .  He said they couldn't get a permit to transport the 20 foot by 60 foot tanks by road, so they'll be making a slow journey down the Erie Canal from Albany to Rochester, probably starting tomorrow.

"We're encouraging people to visit local the establishments along the canal, watch the tanks as they come by, take pictures, and then post them on social media using the hashtag #ToastTheTanks."

It will take 6 to 8 days for the tanks to reach Rochester. Their transportation down the canal was delayed by high water levels on the canal because of the unusually wet spring. Once here, they'll be unloaded from the canal barge and onto trucks for the last 6 miles of their journey to the brewery on St. Paul Street.   Fabrizio said that part of the trip will take place in the wee hours of the morning, so the huge haul doesn't interfere with traffic.

The fermentation tanks were built in China and that has resulted in criticism for the brewery on social media, since New York State is contributing $9 million dollars to the Eco-Brewery District expansion project, a sustainable destination for brewing, tasting, and learning about beer.  But Fabrizio said no state money was used to purchase the tanks. He said bids were taken on that portion of the project from companies worldwide, and the bid from a Chinese manufacturer allowed the brewery to stay on budget.

"We would have loved to have spent all of the modernization here in the U.S. and in particular, New York State, but it just wasn't possible. I should also add that the greatest share of the money related to the modernization is actually being spent on U.S. suppliers and installers, and predominantly New York State."