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Niagara College teaching brewery consistently winning national and international competitions

The Teaching Brewery at Niagara College is serving up more than just an education.

Two craft beers brewed by students have consistently garnering national and international awards.The college’s Beer 101 Strong Ale and Beer 101 Bock each won gold medals recently in their categories at the inaugural Canada Beer Cup, which was hosted by the Canadian Craft Brewers Association.

The competition drew more than 1,300 entries from craft brewers across the country, which were judge by an international panel.

“It's such a validation of what we do here when we teaching the students. they're the ones who made all these beers so they’re the ones who really won the trophies,” said Brewmaster professor Jon Downing. “It’s just phenomenal that can compete against that caliber of competitors and win"

Downing created the recipes for the winning suds that were brewed solely by students from start to finish. Most students have little to no brewing knowledge and experience when they first enrolled in the program.

“It means I'm in the right place, I'm learning from the best of the best,” said Keri Thibert, a first semester student who is just learning the basics.

“It’s really cool how we put the recipes together and put them against larger brewers that are bringing different things to the table that we can't accomplish here," said Chase Miller, a fourth semester student.

The teaching brewery was the first of its kind in Canada when it launched in 2010 and since then the Strong and Bock have won a combined twenty medals at numerous competitions including the Canadian and Ontario Brewing Opens and the US Open Beer Championship.

“The fact that both Beer 101 Bock and Beer 101 Strong have previously won golds in other national and international competitions highlights the consistency and quality of the brewing education that our students are receiving when the same brews win when brewed by different people – something that all students and graduates can be proud of,” said Downing.

Beer 101 Strong has won silver (2018) and bronze (2019) at the Canadian Brewing Awards, as well as gold (2016) and silver (2019 and 2020) from the Ontario Brewing Awards. At the U.S. Open Beer Championship, it has won gold (2018 and 2021), silver (2020), and bronze (2019, 2017, 2016 and 2014). It also won a silver in 2015 at the Dublin Cup.

Awards for Beer 101 Bock include silver (2020) at the Canadian Brewing Awards; gold (2020 and 2021) at the Ontario Brewing Awards; and gold at the U.S. Open Beer Championship (2020 and 2021).

“It really solidifies knowing what we can accomplish and knowing what you can bring forward as you move into your career," said Miller.

The award winning beer is sold exclusively at some local restaurants.

Downing says more competitions are on tap for the award winning brews in 2023. Top Stories

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