The CIA brings beer to classrooms, foodservice

A partnership with Brooklyn Brewery brings homemade beer to classrooms, foodservice.

Interest in craft beers has led a number of colleges to consider adding on-campus brewpubs, but “there’s nothing out there quite like this,” Head Brewer Hutch Kugeman says of the newest student amenity at the Culinary Institute of America.

cia brewery

The university-level culinary school has opened a scaled-down version of New York City’s well-known Brooklyn Brewery at the CIA’s main campus in Hyde Park, N.Y.  As with virtually every food and beverage operation at the institution, The Brewery at the CIA, which opened in mid-December, serves as both a teaching facility and a working part of the school’s foodservice.

The school intends to brew three self-branded beers: Cleaver IPA; Mise en Place Wit, a classic Belgian White; and a seasonal “class project” variety. That wild card will be chosen through a combination of consumer interest and educational decisions, says Kugeman. The first project beer is a heavier winter varietal, the Cast Iron Stout, and total production eventually will ramp up to 500 barrels a year.

The beer brewed on-site is sold by the glass and growler to students, staff and faculty at the Student Commons, which also houses The Egg, a state-of-the-art dining area and instructional center for students studying noncommercial foodservice. The beer also is featured in one of the CIA’s restaurants, the upscale American Bounty, where Cast Iron Stout sells for $6 a pint. Eventually, enough volume will be produced to supply the four other restaurants campus as well. 

Students enrolled in The Art and Science of Brewing course will spend one day amid the brewery’s tanks, located behind a glass wall at the edge of The Egg, for every two days they’re in a classroom. The whole purpose of the brewery, the CIA stresses, is “to help elevate the status of beer on restaurant menus and familiarize the future leaders of foodservice and hospitality with how beer is produced,” Kugeman says.

Faculty members acknowledge there was some concern about brewing beer and selling it to students. Access is controlled through The Egg’s high-tech ordering system; students need an ID to purchase anything, including beer, and the system will not process an order if the buyer is under 21. Plus, they point out, servers at the school are as well trained as any bartender.

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