Huge beer tanks float down Erie Canal to Genesee

May 30, 2017

Three massive tanks in the shape of 60-foot-tall beer cans lie on their side on a barge, as a red tugboat pushes them down the last leg of their journey along the Erie Canal.

Credit WXXI News

The Genesee Beer Co. is shipping them to Rochester as part of a massive modernization project, and public relations campaign. The fermentation tanks will be used to brew millions of bottles of beer at a time and were too large to ship by truck or train.

In the 200 years since ground was broken on the Erie Canal, it has evolved from means of transportation and mode of industrial shipping to a place for recreation.

But this journey is doing more than bringing attention to Genesee -- it’s highlighting the shipping that continues on the canal.

One of the last stops of the journey is Lock 32 in Pittsford, NY. Here, the canal is usually used by kayakers and fisherman, or cyclists and diners looking for an eyeful of waterfront.

But on the day of the tanks arrival, dozens of people turn out to gawk at the fleet of beer tanks as they floated by. Some onlookers even sport beer tanks of their own, in a size appropriate for personal use.

The big tanks have traveled more than two hundred miles across the state, and they won’t be the only products bobbing down the canal this year. New York state expects to ship a total of 200,000 tons down the Erie Canal.