Craft breweries in the US have increased from one in 1975 to well over 2,000 today, so savvy consumers are clearly looking for quality beers these days. While before, a restaurant could rely on a good wine program to keep patrons happy, now a menu of brews beyond Budweiser seems to be essential.
Garrett Oliver, brewmaster for the Brooklyn Brewery, told Food and Wine magazine in “The Crimes against Beer,” “Despite what’s happening at the high end of restaurants and bars, beer is the only food or drink where if you go to a restaurant, the average customer knows more about the beer than the house, even if they have only ten beers on the list. That’s a disaster. Cooking schools are only just starting to learn that they can’t send people out into the world with only three hours of beer training after one month on wine.”
Clearly people know more about different varieties of beer now, and want to try them when they go out, and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is getting on the bandwagon. Next year its Hyde Park campus will have its own brewery, serving beer to of-age students and visitors. The CIA plans to integrate beer education into the curriculum for degree students who will staff the brewery as part of their training.
The 25-year-old Brooklyn Brewery will be its partner. The company was founded by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter to revitalize the City’s beer, which had faded away after a heyday as one of the country’s biggest brewing cities, with 48 breweries in 1898. Light pilsners brewed by beer giants in the Midwest killed them. Hindy and Potter aimed to bring good beer-brewing back to Brooklyn, and they did. Currently the company’s beers are distributed by Phoenix/Beehive, which also handles Guinness, Heineken and Miller.
The Brooklyn Brewery hired Oliver as its brewmaster in 1994, and he developed several new ales and beers for the company. He also oversaw production at its brewing operation in Utica, where many of its beers are bottled (it is currently undergoing a major expansion of its Brooklyn plant). Oliver, a well-known expert on traditional beer styles and beer/food pairings, co-authored The Good Beer Book (Putnam/Berkley, 1997), wrote The Brewmaster’s Table (Ecco, 2003) and was editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer (Oxford University Press, 2011), considered a resource for beer-lovers, homebrewers and the hospitality industry. He has a history of hosting beer-tastings and dinners at fine eateries and acclaimed cooking schools, including the CIA, and has won many national and international awards for the beers that he has created.
Oliver will have a regular presence at the CIA’s Hyde Park campus in the development of curriculum for the new beer program. The campus brewery will be housed in a new student union building that is being built right now. With the feel of an old Brooklyn warehouse, the brewery will have glass walls that permit viewing of a seven-barrel brewing system. The taps should be flowing by the summer of 2015, with four signature beers that will also be sold in the CIA’s restaurants. It will be used as a research-and-development classroom for students and faculty experimentation, “to create and test new beer flavors,” says chef Waldy Malouf, the CIA’s senior director of special projects.
The curriculum will teach junior and senior degree students in the Advanced Wine, Beverage and Hospitality program. They will learn about beer fermentation and brewing, as well as how to staff and run a small brewery/brewpub.
“This partnership is forward-thinking, both in terms of culinary education and college dining,” adds Malouf. The Brooklyn Brewery has a 20-year history of working with the CIA on beer dinners and promotional events. The CIA has been around since 1946, now offering both Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees with majors in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts and Culinary Science.
We’ve come a long way from the “wine is highbrow/beer is lowbrow” mentality, and the CIA seems to be on board with that. Now it’ll be sending out graduates with expert knowledge of all the elements of the craft of beermaking, which surely will be a benefit to beer-lovers all over.