The Brewery at the CIA

Craft beer glass from the brewery at the culinary institute of America in Hyde Park New York
The Brewery at the CIA works in partnership with Brooklyn Brewery to teach future chefs about craft beer.
There’s beer made by brewers that gets paired with food. Then there’s beer brewed by the chefs themselves. Today’s story involves the latter.

While on a trip through New York State, it was recommended that we make reservations at one of the pop-up restaurants at the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie. 

As one of the premier culinary schools in the world, CIA teaches its students the ins-and-outs of the restaurant business as part of its curriculum. Rather than make their students merely book-smart, they’re thrown into real-world experience by spending several weeks working rotating positions throughout the school’s pop-up restaurants. The current selection varies from casual eateries to French haute-cuisine. 

After looking through the list, it was a no-brainer for me to book a seat at the Post Road Brew House.

According to our tour guide, one of the courses available is an on-site craft brewing course that works in collaboration with Brooklyn Brewery. As a bonus, the beers produced by the students are sold in the school’s restaurants.

“What can I get you?” asked a cheery, tuxedoed, blonde 22-year old bartender. I peered at the beer list, and went for the Cleaver IPA.

Pint of IPA craft beer from the brewery at the culinary institute of America in Hyde Park New York
The Cleaver IPA.

It’s a dark gold beer with good carbonation, and looked to have been filtered to death as evidenced by its crystal-clear appearance, and a solid 6.7% ABV alcohol content.

Despite its description as a fruity beer, I found it to be a bitter, East Coast style that had some grassiness with some lemon. However, it was incredibly clean-tasting with a flavor that quickly faded. Maybe a little less filtering would bring up the body and flavors a bit more. Not bad for pre-dinner tasting.

Once seated, I quickly ordered up a flight so I could try the remaining four. 

Flight of craft beer from the brewery at the culinary institute of America in Hyde Park New York
From left to right: Mise en Place Belgian Wit, West Meets East pilsner, Beefsteak Blonde, and Experimental IPA #2.

1. Mise en Place Wit

A cloudy-gold Belgian style wheat. Light on the alcohol at 4.6% ABV. The taste is mostly cloves with a hint of bubble gum. Definitely tasty.

3. West meets East Pilsner

This German-style pilsner was a collaboration with Buffalo’s Community Beer Works. It’s a clear, light gold with good carbonation and a light 4.6% ABV. It’s smooth with mild hops flavors that seem to disperse quickly, leaving a dry finish.

4. Beefsteak Blonde
A clear, gold English-style ale that’s slightly bitter, with a mild maltiness and a 5.6% ABV.

5. Experimental IPA #2

Definitely the extrovert of the bunch. This cloudy, gold IPA is infused with mango and habanero peppers, which gives this 6% IPA a slightly fruity flavor with a heat that slowly builds, but really shows up after swallowing. Fortunately, it disappears quickly.

The thing is, on their own, they weren’t stellar beers – and that’s okay. 

These were made by future chefs who, at this point, would have spent the last three years immersed full-time into learning to make fine cuisine. They understand flavor combinations on a much different plane than you and I, so these beers paired AMAZINGLY well with the three courses I had that evening. 

So if you’re in the Poughkeepsie area, go check out the Post Road Brew House for the beer – and make sure to pair them with the incredible food. 

Cheers!

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