Morrisville State College President David Rogers cuts the ribbon during the official opening of the new brewery at the Copper Turret Restaurant & Brewhouse in Morrisville. Pictured with him are Senator David Valesky, left, and David Katleski, right, founder of Empire Brewing Company and president of the New York State Brewers Association. (photo by Ken Chapman)
The sounds of glasses clinking together filled the Copper Turret Restaurant & Brewhouse as enthusiasts gathered to celebrate the new brewery’s opening.
“This is an exciting day to be affiliated with Morrisville State College and we congratulate everyone involved,” said Senator David Valesky, one of many who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the facility Oct. 13.
“Congratulations to all who helped make this possible,” said Morrisville State College President David Rogers. “We are very excited for this opportunity, which will provide a unique learning experience for our students.”
MSC head brewer Micheal Coons led a celebratory toast, with a house-made Oktoberfest beer, in the tasting room located beside an impressive room filled with copper-clad brewing kettles.
Also attending the opening were Morrisville State College brewing partners David Katleski, founder of Empire Brewing Company and president of the New York State Brewers Association, and Matt Whalen and Carrie Blackmore, co-owners of Good Nature Brewing.
“This partnership with Morrisville State College is critical to the future growth of our industry,” Katleski said. “The key factor to growth is to tie into an institution, such as Morrisville, and allow Micheal and his team to work with our breweries to make better beer.”
On tap were tastings of the brewery’s four flagship beers, the first official products of the brewhouse. The brews, which incorporate local products and whose names pay homage to the college and community, are available year-round and include: The Crop, a German-style pilsner; The Arsenal, a Madison County Hopped IPA; Cherry Valley, an oatmeal-coffee stout; and Belgian Draft Horse, a Belgian-style tripel.
The rise of the brewery is yet another sign of the growth of the local craft beer scene.
“The brewing industry in New York state has grown in leaps and bounds,” Katleski said. “Twenty-five years ago, there were no craft breweries. Now, there are more than 400.”
The brewery derived from the college’s preparation to offer a bachelor’s degree in food technology, which will offer concentrations in brewing science and technology; agricultural marketing; and food science. Course work will range from scientific components of brewing to filing permits and paperwork with the state and federal government.
The brewery serves as the laboratory facility for the Morrisville State College Brewing Institute, giving students the true-to-life experience of growing practices and processing raw ingredients, allowing for the production of higher quality beers.
“This is yet another facility that complements our hands-on approach to learning,” Rogers said.
Morrisville’s program will feed the booming beer industry with skilled employees.
“We are excited to work with Morrisville and help train brewers for the craft brewing industry,” Blackmore said. “Finding skilled and experienced employees is a big issue in our industry. Most of our staff, we have had to train from the ground up. There aren’t a lot of brewers with the technical training that is needed in the industry.”
Mike Basla, along with his son Adam and son-in-law Pat Ruddy, opened the Madison County Distillery on Route 20, just east of the village of Cazenovia, which produces whiskey, bourbon and vodka. Basla plans to utilize the skills of MSC students.
“I am looking forward to working with the college’s students; those in the brewing, culinary and hospitality programs to help with functions as the distillery grows,” he said.
The grand opening of the brewery was part of a two-day long celebration, which also included an open house Oct. 14.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.