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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Bottoms up: College brewers win big in international contests

Teaching Brewery caps off U.S. Open Beer Championship with golds, Top 10 spot

Success continues to pour in for Niagara College’s trailblazing

The Teaching Brewery at Niagara College won three gold medals and a Top 10 ranking at the 2021 U.S. Open Beer Championship.

For the second consecutive year, three popular student-crafted brews from the school’s popular Beer 101 series captured gold at the U.S. Open: Beer 101 Bitter (in the bitter category), Beer 101 Strong Ale (old ale category), and Beer 101 Bock (bock category).

The Teaching Brewery tied for the 10th spot in the competition’s list of Top 10 breweries, and was the only teaching brewery to achieve such a ranking, alongside professional breweries from across the U.S. and one other Canadian brewery (Wellington Brewery in Guelph).

The competition drew more than 8,000 beer entries representing 140 different styles for this year’s competition.

Beer 101 Bitter and Strong Ale have consistently won medals at the U.S. Open Beer Championship and also have a history of success at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

Steve Gill, general manager of the college’s Learning Enterprises – including the Teaching Brewery, Teaching Winery and Teaching Distillery – said he was honoured and humbled by the championship results.

“Back in 2007, when we were looking at starting the brewmaster program, who would have known that it would become the premier spot for beer studies that it is today,” he said. “Our students are consistently making high-quality beers that shine among the best on the national and international stage.”

“Our entire staff and our students continue to show how their training and development in our brewing program allows them to succeed when producing at the NC Teaching Brewery,” said Craig Youdale, dean of the college’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute.

“This recognition shows that our students, under instruction from head brewer George Eagleson and lead brewer Brad Barta, are taught how to brew world-class beers,” noted brewmaster Prof. Jon Downing. “Each time our Beer 101s are brewed, it is by a different group of students in different semesters, usually as a collaborative effort between two or more classes.”

Meanwhile, brewmaster students from the college tied for fourth place overall in the U.S. Open College Beer Championship, with four beer entries winning hardware.

Joel Droogh’s Holstein and Jersey (milk stout) won gold; Charles Rempel’s Heart in Hand (amber ale) took silver; and Andrew Plesko’s Ice Kolsch Hops (classic German-style Kolsch), as well as Ryan Cook’s Napoleon’s Final Defeat (Belgian blonde) won bronze.

The winning beers, which all incorporate NC-grown hops, were created by students as part of their target brew projects in April. They completed the program in August and will officially graduate this fall.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to see all of the blood, sweat, and tears I poured into this beer be recognized,” said Rempel, who now works at Blackburn Brew House in Niagara Falls as a packaging operator. “It’s meaningful in a way to show me I’m on the right career path.”

The competition attracted entries from 11 postsecondary institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

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