Chemistry & Biochemistry, School of Science, School of Liberal Arts, Creative Arts, Siena College Beverage Institute

Craft breweries, distilleries, wineries and meaderies are proliferating in the Capital Region. Several Siena faculty saw an opportunity to support the local economy while offering experiential learning for students.

The Siena College Beverage Institute has been founded to assist the local beverage industry in developing marketing plans, learning how to harness the power of social media to promote products, filming and creating content, writing blogs, examining analytics, and even exploring the science of fermentation and the biodiversity of hops and grapes.

Daniel Moriarty, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Krysta Dennis, Ph.D. producer of creative arts who holds a Wine and Spirits Education Trust diploma; Fr. Roberto "Tito" Serrano, O.F.M.; and Michael Lounello, theater technology manager, are weaving together educational, creative and business development components for the new SCBI.

“The Beverage Institute will become what its clients need it to be,” said Moriarty. “There is so much good that can come from this, and it touches nearly every academic discipline of the College. The craft beverage industry has a very strong sense of community. A rising tide raises all boats, so as we work with individual businesses, we bring greater awareness to the region as a whole.”

The Beverage Institute is not about learning how to brew ale or distill spirits, it’s about supporting local business that already do, and about educating the Siena community and others about the history and craft of these natural products. They are already forming partnerships with several local businesses. Five Siena students are working with SCBI this summer and more will have opportunities this fall and spring. The students are learning to use the latest technology in content creation under Lounello's tutelage. 

The Institute is also connecting with the Capital Craft Beverage Trail to kick off the CCBT’s 2021-22 Passport program, where beverage enthusiasts can collect points and prizes by visiting dozens of member locations.

As the students and faculty work with local businesses, they will also learn the fine art of tasting high quality beverages: the Beverage Institute is conducting tastings this summer with the over-21 students who are work partners. They are sampling different wines, spirits and ales, learning how they are made, what foods to pair them with and how they should be served. 

As the students learn about the beverages, their clients will get tips on how to sell and promote them, and how to film and write about them to help their businesses thrive.

“This is about quality over quantity, about drinking responsibly and with appreciation. It’s about sharing communion with a small ‘c.’ Gathering at a table with food and drink is integral to who we are as human beings.”

Fr. Tito Serrano, O.F.M.

“In America, we do not learn to drink responsibly. One of the goals of the Beverage Institute is to address that, to teach about the craft of creating these beverages, and how to select and consume them properly.” 

Krysta Dennis, Ph.D. producer of creative arts (and licensed sommelier)