Even though the news for beer sales has been bad for the last several years, some breweries are taking advantage of the down economy along with city and utility company incentives.
Genesee Brewing Company, one of the oldest breweries left in the United States, has decided to rebuild its brew house and add a visitor center to take advantage of its scenic view of the High Falls waterfall. The Genesee land is directly on the Genesee River in Rochester, New York, and is perhaps best known for their Genesee Cream Ale, also known as Genny Cream by the locals. They expect the brewery expansion to be completed by April 27 of next year. That marks the 79th anniversary of the breweries restart after prohibition ended on Dec. 5, 1933.
For those of you with aspirations of owning a brewery, the article on the Democrat and Chronicle website by Matthew Daneman gives an idea of the costs to build a production size brewery, $2.6 million just for the brewery upgrades. It helps to have the backing of a large New York investment firm like KPS Capital Partners who have spent over $20 million in other improvements like production efficiency and improving the quality of the beer. You can see that opening a brewery is not a cheap undertaking. I would estimate that even a small 8 - 10 barrel system would be at least $250,000, and that is using used equipment and not automating everything.
The investment seems to be paying off, Genesee has increased employment 76% and now employs 560 people. This is in addition to the ancillary employment of construction workers, beer distributors, retailers, and product suppliers. Many historians have said that one of the major reasons the 21st amendment was repealed was to gain the tax revenues that beer, and alcohol in general, provide. Of course, the public face of the repeal was to end the perceived violence of organized crime everywhere, but prohibition is a book on its own!
The management at Genesee have tossed the idea of expansion around for years, and cite the success of other regional breweries who have placed more emphasis on guests and tourism. Breweries like Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown and Brooklyn Brewery as well as the famous D. G. Yuengling & Son brewery in Pottsville Pennsylvania which has visitors driving for hours to see. After the new brew house and visitor center is completed, Genesee Brewing Company is expecting hundreds of visitors a day. That means more tax revenue, and potentially more tourism income.
So encourage your legislatures to do what is right for the economy; promote breweries and help them expand. It is your patriotic duty.