Massive beer barges float their way through the Capital Region

WATERFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Erie Canal is celebrating its 200th anniversary with a lot of beer. In fact, entire barges of beer vats are making their way through Capital Region, floating down the Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal is so functional that New York companies can use it to ship unique cargo, like, for instance, giant beer vats.

The first of several barges loaded with three giant beer vats entered the first canal lock in Albany on Friday and by Monday had floated its way to Schenectady.

The tanks are massive, 60 feet by 20 feet, and can hold up to 2,000 barrels of beer each. 12 vats in total are making their way through the Erie canal.

The vats are for a $40 million modernization at the Genesee Brewery in Rochester.

The drive to Rochester takes about four hours from Albany, but the vats are on day one of an expected six-day journey.

It’s a big deal for the New York State Canal Corporation to celebrate the anniversary with such a big shipment.

“Those tanks are larger than anything we could ship by rail, highway, plane, so the natural choice was by the Erie Canal,” Brian Stratton, New York State Canal Corporation, said.

“Typically you would drive that in four hours and by barge, six to seven days. So, it’s not life in the fast lane, it’s life in the past lane,” John Callaghan, New York State Canal Corporation, said.

The barges and tanks are still in Waterford Friday night and will stay until May 23 when they start the slow journey west.

  • May 23: Tanks will proceed to Niskayuna to Scotia to Rotterdam Junction/Glenville to Cranesville to Amsterdam to Tribes Hill
  • May 24: Tribes Hill to Randall to Canajoharie to Fort Plain to Mindenville
  • May 25: Mindenville to Little Falls to Frankfort to Utica
  • May 26: Utica to Rome to New London
  • May 27: New London to Brewerton to Baldwinsville
  • May 28: Baldwinsville to Mays Point to Clyde to Lyons
  • May 29/30: Lyons to Newark to Palmyra to Macedon to Pittsford to Henrietta; Tanks arrive at 150 Lee Road in Rochester

If you take photos and selfies of the barges along the canal and post them with the hashtag #toastthetanks and you’ll be able to see it and other photos posted.

The Canal Corporation will continue the celebration with events along the canal trial through the summer.

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