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June 08, 2009 - Genny (the Brewery) Is Back
The new owners of High Falls Brewing in Rochester plan to make a major investment in the company and return it to its original name, Genesee Brewing Company. The name was changed to High Falls in 2000 after a $26 million buyout by management.

North American Breweries of Canada says it will pour $10 million into the brewery on repairs and new equipment this year and next. NAB will also embark on a big marketing push for Genesee, Genny Light, and Genesee Cream Ale in the Northeast and Midwest, where Genny has traditionally had a stronger presence.

From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle yesterday:

"When we do blind taste tests (against other beers), we win," said North American CEO Rich Lozyniak. "We just have to get people to try us. We have a great product, but we have to reposition it."

[ ... ]

The $10 million will pay for mechanical upgrades in the steam house and packaging area and in process controls that will help with waste reduction and quality issues, Lozyniak said. According to North American, the company expects to save upward of $1 million annually on its electricity and water bills.

North American and its parent company, New York City investment firm KPS Capital Partners LP, continue to look for other regional beer brands or breweries for purchase, Lozyniak said. KPS formed North American in February after purchasing High Falls; Labatt USA, the Buffalo-based importer of Labatt beer for the U.S. market; and the rights to the Seagram's Escapes line of wine coolers. With the purchase, KPS instantly became one of the nation's larger brewers. High Falls in 2008 was the ninth-largest U.S. brewery based on sales.

The regional focus is a wise course for brewery turn-arounds in the eyes of most industry observers.--JACK CURTIN