Beer, Wine, and Culinary Institute

by Christine on October 18th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

This weekend a friend and I decided to go downstate New York to check out the Cullinary Institute of America (CIA) and to check out a few breweries. We set off on the road after a cup of coffee and a mini-luna bar (100 calories) and headed downstate.  I have heard from numerous sources that you need to make reservations at the CIA literally months ahead of time in order to get into the restaurants, but there are two or three cafes on campus as well, and I was hoping to grab lunch there.  I knew that this was a potentially risky undertaking: a compulsive overeater at a culinary institute campus? Yikes! But I thought I could handle the challenge. Two years ago, I definitely couldn’t have handled it. Unfortunately everything was totally closed when we arrived, so we weren’t able to sample any CIA food at all! Too bad, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the quality of food there! The campus was really beautiful, and we enjoyed walking around and taking pictures.

Cullinary Institute of America

Seeing as how the restaurants on campus were closed and we were starving, we made our way up the street to our first brewery, Hyde Park Brewery. We had a flight of beer to sample all the styles on tap. They were all surprisingly light and smooth, and the Oktoberfest beer was the best! I also had a bowl of beer and cheese soup that was phenomenal!  Cheese soup had to be filled with calories and isn’t the healthiest choice, but I had the calories to spend and it was well worth the calorie price tag.

beer tasting beer flight

After that we went to two wineries, Clinton Vineyards and another one that I can’t remember offhand. (Millbrook winery, I think)  The first winery (Clinton) had very sweet desert wines that would have been very tasty as a drizzle over ice cream or cheesecake. The second winery had very classy wines, three that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately I don’t have extra cash to spend, so I did not buy any wines, but there were worthy ones there!

After that we headed to New Paltz to another brewery, the Gilded Otter brewery. That place was a freaking zoo! I think everyone in New Paltz was trying to eat there that night. The beer was tasty and the building was pretty cool, but there were about ten zillion people there and the bartenders were far too busy with other orders to pay attention to their patrons sitting at the bar.  It would be a nice place to visit on a day that wasn’t so crowded!  We ordered a vegetable quesadilla and I had one slice (out of five slices) with a half-pint of beer.

When we got to my friend’s house, we decided to make our own beer! We had already purchased a pre-assembled kit that gave all the wheat & oats, spices, hops, yeast, etc.  I had never made homebrew before, although Pete had. It was a very long process (about four hours) and very smelly too. You have to be really attentive to the temperature of your brew at all times and follow the instructions perfectly.  It was super fun to make, although I don’t completely understand the chemical process that was going on at every step. I think I have some added research to do!

Step 1: You put all the wheat and oats into a cheesecloth sack and steep it for about an hour.

Step1: Steeping the beer

Step 2: You then add some hops and spices and boil the mixture for another hour.

Step 3: Following the instructions you add more hops, more spices. Then you drop the temperature of the mixture, then add the yeast. Then you pour into a glass jug while straining off all the icky stuff off the top.


Step 4: Then you make the glass container air-tight, with a siphon to collect more ickies as the mixture begins to bubble over.

Apparently we now need to wait a week or two for the mixture to work its magic, with the yeast magically creating alcohol and natural carbonation. When it stops bubbling over, we will cap it off and make it air-tight, let it sit for another week or two, and then bottle it all up.  We made a Belgium wheat beer (“whitbier”) like Blue Moon. I can’t wait to try my very first homebrew!

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