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.
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.
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.