built c. 1870, Greece, N.Y.
Beer was a welcome supplement to the Genesee Country pioneer's basic diet. Beer could be brewed on the farm or in the home, but by the middle of the 19th century, many villages in western New York included a brewery, a distillery or both.
Mumford and Caledonia — just a mile apart — each had a brewery in the 1830s. Alexander Simpson, owner and proprietor of the one in Caledonia, did a brisk business during the construction of the Genesee Valley Canal. He sent wagonloads of beer all along the route of the canal as far south as Olean, N.Y. In 1837, when the canal was completed, Simpson sold his business.
When Thomas Douglas (1771-1820), the fifth Earl of Selkirk, visited Geneva, N.Y., in 1803, he found 13 distilleries and one brewery in that pleasant village. The Scottish nobleman, who was traveling and observing industries in Canada and the United States, prepared drawings and descriptions of the Geneva brewery. His careful records were the basis for the design and organization of the reproduction 19th-century brewery at Genesee Country Village.
Portions of Rochester's old Enright Brewery (closed in 1907) and an early timber-framed structure near West Bloomfield, N.Y., were merged to form the present building. The big copper kettle on the third floor and all the wooden vessels and vats are arranged according to Lord Selkirk's account of "a modest facility for the manufacture of beer." The entire operation requires equipment on six different floor levels within the three-story structure.
The original Genesee Country Village brewery and all its contents burned in 1988. A reproduction, as indicated above, now takes its place. The wooden vessels and vats were reproduced by a Finger Lakes winery cooper. In the photograph, the Hops Drying House is at the right, and the hops field is behind the two buildings.
GCVM is open 10 am-4 pm Tues.-Sun.
Closed Mondays except for May 27, Sept. 2 & Oct. 14