We’ll set the scene. A large, brick building with red awnings, the title “Genesee” stretched across. The roar of the 96-foot High Falls in the background. Then, you spot it. Right next to the building, 532 kegs, stacked into a neat triangle, strung with lights. Folks are gathered all around, toasting to the occasion with a limited-edition Cinnamon Cream Ale and tasting the special food offerings of the night. If you’re looking for holiday cheer, this festive local tradition is the perfect place to find it.
You might ask yourself, why kegs?
The Genesee Brew House is a Rochester destination, as it offers libations brewed at Genesee Brewery, New York’s oldest brewery, right next door. The Brew House tells the iconic history of Genesee Brewery, from its start in 1878, to today’s modern offerings.
Former Genesee employee Mike Gaesser, who worked at the brewery for 45 years before his retirement last year, had the idea for the first Keg Tree. Now, his legacy continues as a celebration of the season and nod to Genesee’s long history and contribution to Rochester’s booming food and beverage scene.
How long has this tradition been happening in Rochester?
The first keg tree went up in 2014, but the Brew House didn’t host the first Keg Tree Lighting event until 2016. That’s 8 years of the Keg Tree in Rochester!
How long does it take to build the Keg Tree?
While the tree takes a lot of preparation from Mike and the team before they start building—untangling and testing lights, reinforcing the large platform, etc.—but the build itself is now down to a science. It takes just a couple days to build, and a couple more to add all the lights.
How many people visit the Keg Tree each year?
2019 was the most highly attended Keg Tree event with more than 7,000 people. The Brew House is expecting record numbers this year after a two-year hiatus. Thousands more people visit throughout the month of December, as the Keg Tree remains lit each evening into the New Year.
What happens to the kegs of the Keg Tree when it is taken down?
The kegs actually go back into production. They are sanitized and put back on the line to fill with beer!
What can people expect when they visit the lighting of the Keg Tree?
This year, the Keg Tree, strung with 30,000 lights and programmed to flash along to holiday songs, will be lit at 6:30 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 2. Attendees can look forward to a special Genesee Brew House menu, food trucks, and seasonal Genesee beers on tap. Genesee’s Keg Tree Ale, a limited-edition Cinnamon Cream Ale, offers a festive spin on a Genny classic and will help to raise money for the Open Door Mission throughout December.
The Genesee team is thrilled to see fans return year after year for this festive event. It’s become a beloved holiday favorite in Rochester.
“It brings people together and there’s always a lot of excitement around it,” says Brand Public Relations Manager Megan Brandow. “We love to see people attend the event with family and friends, and watch visitors come see it from all over throughout the month of December.”