It’s a really exciting time to be brewing beer in New York. In all honesty, beer and New York are a match made in heaven: our landscape offers ideal conditions for growing quality hops, the state is extremely supportive of the industry, and we have plenty of beer lovers dedicated to perfecting the craft and helping the culture grow.
This Saturday, October 7, the Culinary Institute of America is hosting their second annual Brew U beer festival at their Hyde Park campus, aimed at celebrating our local brew scene and the creations of New York’s top breweries. With food seminars, beer and cider tastings, and notable breweries like Brooklyn, Mill House, and Newburgh Brewing Company on the bill, it’s sure to be a Saturday well spent, whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in a growing culture or just get your day drink on.
To give us a taste of what we can expect this weekend, we spoke with the CIA’s head brewer and beer lover, Hutch Kugeman. Read our interview below, and click here for more information on the event.
What upcoming trends and movements in the craft beer industry do you think will make a noticeable difference in how the culture is shaped?
The trends in the craft beer industry are really driven by consumer demand returning to local, artisan products. The public wants a deeper connection to the products they purchase, and we see this especially in the food & beverage sector in the Hudson Valley and New York State. As consumer demand for locally-brewed beers has increased, these businesses have been able to spur growth in their communities by purchasing more agricultural products, or establishing their own hop yards or malt houses. This has had a huge impact on growth, because small breweries can now package their product in smaller batches, rather than having to make a huge investment to get their product on shelves or on tap.
It’s a really exciting time for the brewing industry in New York. It’s going to continue to give customers more options for a wide range of tastes and interests, while creating skilled jobs in brewing, agriculture and packaging in our communities.
How will Brew U showcase these exciting changes?
Brew U is really a direct result of the brewing boom in New York State and the Hudson Valley. It’s our second year hosting this beer festival at the CIA, and our goal is to highlight the best that New York State has to offer — from those that are more established, to smaller, local beers and ciders. It’s such a unique event, and each year we’re excited to see what new products people are pouring, and of course what the CIA chefs are cooking to go with the beers. This year, I’m excited to have Fifth Hammer, who have just opened, and Hudson Ale Works out of Highland. And then we’ll be seeing some new beers from more established brewers like Keegan, Crossroads, Industrial Arts, and Sloop.
At Brew U, we’ll be pouring a mix of the beers we brew at the Brewery at the CIA:
• From our core production beers, we’ll pour the “Clever IPA” (American IPA), and the “Mis en Place Wit” (a Belgian-style Wit). We’ll also have our Oktoberfest beer — a seasonal German-style Oktoberfest Lager.
• We’ll be unveiling a brand new beer made by the Brewery at the CIA: a new Double IPA that hasn’t been named yet.
• From our class project beers, we’ll be pouring the “Stay Sharp Saison,” a Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale that won the silver medal at the Taste NY New York State Governor’s Cup Craft Beer Competition.
• Lastly, we’ll be pouring “To the Moon,” a stout that we brewed in partnership with Peekskill Brewery
How does the state of NY’s legislative landscape shape the future of the industry?
We are very lucky in New York to have a strong ally in the Governor’s office and with the state legislature. The state is very supportive and has helped to build a very strong and fair industry. Breweries are now working closely with their farmers to make a living generating quality production and we are really fortunate to have legislation on our side, helping to create positive growth in all of our communities.
As a lover of beer, what are some of the coolest advancements in beer you’ve seen, from tastes, to ingredients used and even methods of brewing?
As a brewer, the coolest advancements in beer have been the result of experimentation. That’s why I’m so excited to start getting a bit more creative with our classes here at the Brewery at the CIA.
We’ve seen a drastic bell curve in the production of popular beers. Ten years ago, it was all about extreme beers, high in hops, high in alcohol, brewed in bourbon barrels. Now, we’re seeing more session beers evening out the market, with beers that have great flavor but are more drinkable. Along with that, we see new techniques in brewing from dry-hopping beers, a huge increase in popularity for sour beers, and new flavors like the New England unfiltered IPA that has more fruit upfront, with a little bitterness.
Maybe one of my most exciting trends is how small farm breweries are working to become true vertical operations, growing as much of their own ingredients as possible. Plan Bee Farm is brewing with 100 percent of their own grown ingredients including plants that they are using for flavor and aroma, like lemon verbena, lime, basil, and lemon thyme. Overall, the rise in education and technically skilled brewing industry professionals is turning out much more exciting beers and a more holistic approach to brewing.