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Year-round Comfort Food and Joy

Genesee Brew House ferments off of tradition

By Christopher Malone

Big dill pickle pizza: Topped with breaded chicken, bacon, multiple cheeses and, yes, pickles. Instead of a dill sauce, the pizza is graced with a garlic parmesan sauce.

There’s something about a pyramid of light-decorated kegs emulating a Christmas tree that really sets the mood for the holiday season.

And, no, that’s not sarcastic. It’s one of those unique things Genesee Brewing Company maximizes on and the season wouldn’t be the same without it.

Plus, the “tree lighting” ceremony kicks off in December and not late October.

The more than a century-old company’s campus brewhouse, which was re-established in 2012, combines the old with the new.

The very tidy two-story brewhouse greets you with merchandise spanning its first floor. It’s a great marketing tactic because you don’t have to go out of your way to remind yourself this exists because Genesee does it for you.

Genesee’s brews are notable from the styles to the packaging; some people may have a negative view on their standard lineup commonly found in stores. But craft beer snobs or lovers need not fret — the brewery is hip, in tune with the times. Still, there’s a place for everything, especially their cream ale.

Elk burger served at Genesee Brew House.

Yes, that bar standard which is also used to make their prosciutto aranchini. Like a great wine, the cream ale is effectively used to make the risotto found in these larger than golfball-sized appetizers. The sauce-covered, asiago cheese-sprinkled balls come in a line of three.

The crispy outside cuts into easily to expose the hot, rolled up rice and prosciutto. The aranchini isn’t overly heavy. It wakes up the taste buds with a subtle, welcomed spicy kick.

Moving to the handhelds: the elk burger caught my eye with the Philly cheesesteak hoagie a close second. Even though it’s the holiday season, my first choice was reindeer; unfortunately, it’s not in season. So, elk it was.

(I’m joking. Maybe.)

It’s been a while since taking a bite out of a burger while dining out. Because they’re burgers, something which is difficult to screw up unless it’s cooked wrong (or well done), the meat doesn’t taste fresh or it’s presented as a mess.

Prosciutto aranchini: The crispy outside cuts into easily to expose the hot, rolled up rice and prosciutto.

Fortunately, the elk burger reigned approval. The large, stacked brioche bread burger was made with meat that didn’t taste bland, it came out a proper medium rare and the ingredients were welcomed. There’s bacon, arugula, onions and a slice of pepperjack cheese. The lemon pesto aioli was top notch with that hint of lemon which didn’t overpower the pesto.

Instead of fries, I opted for a side of chili. The hearty cup was packed with meat, beans and veggies and came with a medium-hot kick. A chili doesn’t have to be over the top to hit the spot. And nothing accompanies these New York late fall and winter days like a bowl of hearty chili.

From saucy to cheesy: The side of macaroni and cheese was much larger than a typical side. Aside from parsley flakes, we had it topped with bacon. It wasn’t overly cheesy but the dairy component wasn’t shy about that signature stretch when pulling noodles away from the group. Like the chili, the mac and cheese wasn’t an overly doctored option. It is what it is.

The pizza special was their “Big Dill” pickle pizza, one of the few kinds of pizza that does taste slightly different from place to place. This was topped with breaded chicken, bacon, multiple cheeses and, yes, pickles. Instead of a dill sauce, the pizza is graced with a garlic parmesan sauce.

Side of macaroni and cheese: Much larger than a typical side.

The crust is doughy with a slightly singed bottom, making it easy to fold a slice if that’s how you go about eating pizza. Where many takes on a pickle pizza have a heavy dill flavor, this sat back and shared the spotlight with other ingredients.

And for dessert — another pizza. The apple crisp pizza lives up to how it sounds. Apple crisp on a crust, plus that vanilla drizzle. The taste of fall is at your fingertips but don’t bite them.

The pizza-style is a fun take on a familiar treat. The bread was a little chewy compared to the other pizza crust but it was strong enough to hold the ingredients so your fork didn’t have to.

With tip, the bill came to $93 and change.

The family-friendly Genesee Brewhouse has concocted the casual experience with good food in a comfortable atmosphere. No matter the time of year, it has something for everyone, from kiddos to those with dietary specifications.


Genesee Brew House

25 Cataract St., Rochester, NY 14605





Sunday – Thursday: 10  a.m. – 11 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Monday – Thursday: 5 – 10 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 5 – 11 p.m.