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Friday, September 29, 2023
Niagara College brews up best batch at beer awards
From left: Santiago Ampudia, Kyla Dewey and Jenny Lukasiewicz, Niagara College brew students, stand with their professor, Jon Downing. (Somer Slobodian)

Niagara College students learning the art, science and business of brewing beer cleaned up at two U.S.-based competitions.

Students in the brewmaster and brewery operations management diploma program entered five beers in the U.S. Open College Beer Championship during their final semester – and all five were awarded medals: two golds, two silvers and one bronze.

One of the gold winners also received best-of-show honours.

“I believe it’s the first time that our school has medals for every single beer that was submitted,” said student Jenny Lukasiewicz, whose T’Weiss as Nice’ German Wheat Ale brew won bronze.

And for the first time since 2016, Niagara College also took home the grand national champion title.

“Students winning the grand national championship was just incredible,” said Jon Downing, brewmaster professor at Niagara College. 

The brews were judged at the beginning of June and announced in late July. The competition is for colleges and universities that teach brewing courses.  

All brews entered were created by students in their final term.

“All students take part in making them because when they’re brewing, it’s part of a team,” said Downing. 

Even if it was a single student’s recipe, every classmate takes part in bringing it to life. 

“Everyone that made a winning beer had an amazing team of people helping make that beer, so our entire class deserves accolades,” said Lukasiewicz.

To choose the best brews for the competition, Downing said all the students had an “internal competition” and picked the top five brews out of 15. 

“It was a real tough decision,” said brew student Santiago Ampudia, whose Te-Toiset Bois Belgian Tripel brew won silver. 

In addition to the college championships, the teaching brewery also took home two silvers at the U.S. Open Beer Championship

“It’s the third-largest beer competition in the U.S., so it’s pretty prestigious to win,” said Downing.

The two beers that won silver – Beer 101 Strong and Beer 101 Bitter – have also won other national and international awards. 

Because Niagara College is both a teaching institution and a brewery, it participates in the same competitions as other brewers, which sets it apart from others, said Downing.

“It really does show that the other students are learning what they need to learn to go and work at all those other breweries.”

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