Genesee wins top honor at state beer competition 

click to enlarge Genesee Pilot Brewmaster Dean Jones.


Genesee Pilot Brewmaster Dean Jones.

Dean Jones, the brewmaster at the Genesee Pilot Brew House, was getting ready to call it a night as the 2023 New York State Craft Beer Competition drew to a close Friday evening.

It had already been a good night for the brewery — its robust porter had taken the bronze medal in its category, the first award for the brewery in a few years.

Then came the big announcement. Jones’s simple, German-style Helles won the Governor’s Excelsior Cup, an award that honors the best in show, the beer which topped every other beer in competition. It was a moment that he said left him standing speechless at the award podium.

“I wasn’t expecting anything,” Jones said during an interview Monday. “I thought, ‘Holy cow, I won one thing for something, and that was great.’ Cool, we won something, I was done…it really was a shock.”

Jones, a brewer who favors traditional German styles, has helmed the Pilot Brew House since its 2012 inception. He said the Helles is one of the first beers he’s brewed that got a “wow” out of him. It’s easy to see why— the beer is stylistically flawless. It’s simple and subtle with a herbal hop bitterness that impeccably balanced with soft malt sweetness.

The crew at Genesee received a standing ovation at the end of the award ceremony.

“It’s surreal to see all of the people and feel all of the Genesee love that you get to see during that event,” Jones said.

This isn’t Genesee’s first big award. In 2018, the brewery took home a gold medal in the chocolate beer category at the World Beer Cup with its dark chocolate Scotch ale. That same beer earned Genesee a silver medal in the same category at the Great American Beer Festival that year.

  • Genesee was not the only Rochester-area brewery to walk away with recognition. Award winning breweries included:
  • Naked Dove Brewing, which received two gold medals for its Exposinator Doppelbock and Russian Imperial Stout.
  • Wood Kettle Brewing and Nine Spot Brewing received a gold medal for its Weizenbock, Pearl to Pine, as well as best collaboration beer
  • K2 Brothers Brewing received a gold medal for its Imperial Red Rye Ale
  • Swiftwater Brewing Company was awarded a silver medal for its dark Czech lager, Tmave Pivo
  • Roc Brewing Company won a silver for its Desert Rose fruited sour
  • Rohrbach Brewing Company received a bronze medal for its Doppelbock
  • Strangebird Beer got a bronze medal for its Russian imperial stout, Russian Bear fight
  • Heroes Brewing got a bronze medal for its Builders Brew American Pale Ale
  • Peacemaker Brewing won a bronze medal for its hazy IPA Crooked Soul
The New York State Craft Beer Competition, organized by the New York State Brewers’ Association, is the largest single-state beer competition in the country. This year, 189 breweries entered a total of 1,350 entries into the competition.

Genesee’s win marks the second year in a row a Rochester-area brewer has taken the top beer spot. —Last year, Wood Kettle won the Governor’s Cup for its brown ale, Brother Bear.

Correction: The original version of this story neglected to mention the awards for Peacemaker and Roc Brewing Company.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected].
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