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May. 20, 2022 | Friday
Local News
Hometown brewer: Griffin Data breaks into craft beer market
Griffin Data, owner of Newark Brewing Company. (Brittany Carter/NiagaraNow)

Griffin Data is realizing his dream of opening a brewery that pays homage to his hometown’s humble beginnings.

The sole owner/operator of Newark Brewing Company, Data, 28, is slowly rolling out his new beer, trying to get on to the taps of local bars and restaurants in town.

It wasn’t one single eureka moment that led him to his goal of setting up shop in Niagara, but a collection of little things laying the path out before him, he says.

The sense of community really stuck out, he says, adding that there was never a shortage of people willing to help or offer him advice along the way.

Data enrolled in the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program at Niagara College when he realized he wanted to pursue a career in the growing craft-beer industry.

A few months after graduating in April 2016, he says the idea sort of revealed itself to him. He had worked in the beverage industry for years, employed at Molson Coors Brewing Company, Trius Winery and Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst, and says it was a field he wanted to continue contributing to.

The idea of being his own boss didn’t hurt, he says.

After college, Data took a trip to Germany, “to see the rich history they have there. Hundreds of years (of history) and they still stick to their traditions.”

He says while in Germany, Niagara College had organized for the group to do a brew day at the Weihenstephan brewery and university.

“The night before, we had found out about a residence bar and decided to go there for the night.”

He says he was one of four from the group to show up in the morning ready to work and learn. “Kind of expected when you can get pints of some of the best beer in the world for two euros,” he says.

While in Germany he immersed himself in the culture. That experience accelerated his desire to work in the beer industry. Sampling traditional beer styles in abundance with friends, he wanted to recreate that feeling back home. 

Drawn to classic styles and German beer, his first brew is a brown lager.

“The style of the beer is called a Munich Dunkel. It’s more toasty in flavour than a normal lager, with a hint of chocolate.”

Without a physical brewery in place, he has contracted with Taps Brewing Company Inc. to brew his beer. He says he provided the ingredients and, using his recipe, the Niagara Falls brewery made batches for him. 

Data’s desire to keep life classic and traditional is evident through the branding for the new brewing company. He says he wanted people to look at his logo and believe that this company will be around in 50 years.

With no inclination to rush into things, he has been working on branding and building up a name for himself until the opportunity for a physical brewery comes available. “Everything will happen when it’s supposed to.”

While he is the sole proprietor of the business, he says he isn’t alone.

Supported and encouraged by his girlfriend, Natalie Ramsay, he says their first date should have scared her away. Sporting a black eye after taking a stick to the face during a hockey game the previous night, he says he came off as some kind of “goon fighter,” but that’s the opposite of his personality.

Obviously overcoming that first impression, they have been together for years.

“She gets to be on the front lines for any taste-testing going on and even helps me pick up supplies when I need them. She’s been an all-star.”

Beer never played a large role in his household growing up. His mom, a wine-drinker and his dad, a lover of rum, meant he didn’t really think much about beer until he went to bars and discovered it on tap.

Shying away from the big-name light beers, he gravitated toward the full-bodied, flavourful drafts available at the time, particularly Rickard’s Red.

He became a connoisseur of craft beer around the time Silversmith Brewing Company was established.

Silversmith opened the door for quality craft beer in his neighbourhood and Data says he began to realize his love of the complex and highly praised beverage.

Driven and eager for this new venture in his life, Data says he thinks he fits into a niche where he is doing something a bit different with his Dunkel.

“Nobody around really does that. Even in the LCBO you don’t see a lot of them. If you do, they’re European versions. So that is a little bit of a niche.”

By breaking into the local craft-beer market, Data says he wants to bring something new to his hometown, remembering his roots and doing what he loves. He says his beer is not on tap anywhere at the moment, but he has hit the ground running, approaching local bars and restaurants in hopes of getting his first beer out to the public.

He says he will be set up at the Albino Rhino Beer Festival in Ridgeway on May 25. He will post updates about what he’s up to and when his beer can be found locally through his Instagram, @NewarkBrewing.