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Keg Tree lighting celebration set to return 

click to enlarge The 2019 Genesee Keg Tree lighting.

PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI

The 2019 Genesee Keg Tree lighting.

After a two-year hiatus, the Genesee Brewery’s Keg Tree lighting celebration is returning on Dec. 2..

The Keg Tree, a nearly three-story illuminated pyramid made up of 532 beer kegs, has become a Rochester tradition since the brewery introduced it in 2013. The pandemic stymied the annual lighting ceremony, which draws thousands of visitors to the brewery grounds.

“What could be more Rochester than hanging out with 8,000 of your closest friends and family, braving any kind of weather—shorts, T-shirts, who knows, don’t put them away yet, you never know— and having a Genny around a giant keg tree?” said Dean Jones, brewmaster at the Genesee Pilot Brewery at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Genesee installed and lit the Keg Tree in 2020 and 2021, but it was done with little fanfare. For example, the brewery hosted a series of small events and special beer releases following the Keg Tree lighting last year, but it did not hold an actual lighting celebration..

This year’s Keg Tree lighting will resemble the celebration of years past. There will be food trucks and the brewery will release seasonal beers, including a winter warmer and Keg Tree Ale, a cinnamon-dosed version of the brewery’s Cream Ale

The Keg Tree is the brainchild of Mike Gaesser, a 40-year veteran of the brewery who retired earlier this year. Gaesser has agreed to return to Genesee to oversee the construction of the Keg Tree. The project includes nearly 30,000 lights, programmed to synchronize with music. Construction is set to begin in mid-November. The tree, as in previous years, will remain up through the beginning of January.

“What started out as a fun construction project for our team has turned into a Genesee tradition,” Gaesser said, in a statement. “It’s great to be back.”

The Keg Tree celebration will run from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. The lighting itself is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. sharp. The brewery will also be hosting a local business pop-up at the Brew House beginning the week of Dec. 5, and will be donating $1 for every Keg Tree Ale sold in December to Open Door Mission, a local homeless shelter.

Mayor Malik Evans said Genesee, in its 144 years in Rochester, has represented the best of Rochester business.

“This is a great celebration to drink and be merry, but it’s also a celebration of an iconic company that said, ‘We are investing in Rochester, we are tied to Rochester,’ and the future of Rochester rests on great companies like this,” Evans said.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.
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