Hipsters breathed new life into Pabst Blue Ribbon, leading to consumption increasing 200 percent between 2004 and 2013. The retro revolution resuscitated labels like Schlitz, National Bohemian and Rainier—which are all owned by Pabst—as well as Hamm’s.
Civic pride, blue collar beer drinkers and craft forays kept the Genesee Brewery alive for much of the 1990s and 2000s. At the heart of New York’s oldest brewery was Genesee Cream Ale, a ubiquitous green can found during the 1970s and 1980s at every cookout, family gathering and holiday in Upstate New York. Interest in Genny’s classic cream ale waned as trends and tastes changed, cementing the Rochester brewery’s product in the cheap beer section of supermarket coolers at price points built for the college party crowd.
Then came 2012. That’s when things changed. The Genesee Brew House opened, marrying together a tasting room, visitors center and restaurant. A pilot brewery was installed to create experimental beers for onsite consumption. The experimental beers became so popular. the brewery scaled up the recipes to bottle and distribute. First, it was the salted caramel chocolate porter, made in conjunction with a local confectioner in the fall of 2014. Then came a black IPA and scotch ale. Momentum gained and more styles moved from the pilot system to the production line. Suddenly, the Genesee Brew House line was gaining shelf and tap space in the craft sections of local stores and bars.
This is a heavyweight, full-bodied ale with a fair amount of spice and booze in the flavor profile.”
Six years after opening, Genesee Brew House won its first award, when the Dark Chocolate Scotch Ale took home gold in the Chocolate Beer category at the 2018 World Beer Cup.
Despite its award category, it’s every bit a scotch ale in style. This is a heavyweight, full-bodied ale with a fair amount of spice and booze in the flavor profile. There is a significant warmth on the palate, and in your chest, as you sip it. The chocolate is complex and luxurious, dominating the nose and taste. A hard pour releases the scent of chocolate, as if you walked into the chocolatier’s shop with your eyes closed and inhaled deeply.
The beer’s taste opens with an aggressive dark chocolate flavor, part-bitter and part-sweet. Toasted malts create a roasty bridge that carries over to a dry chocolate finish and bitter chocolate aftertaste. You might not want to drink more than one of these in a sitting, but, as a dessert beer, it is very well done. One might even called it award-winning.