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Niagara College Teaching Brewery wins gold and silver medals at U.S. Open Beer Championships

NC Teaching Brewery wins gold and silver medals at U.S. Open Beer Championships                 

The Niagara College Teaching Brewery “owned the podium” at this week’s 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championships in Atlanta, GA, capturing two gold medals and two silvers along with a prestigious top-10 overall ranking in the international competition. The four-medal finish helped the Niagara College Teaching Brewery place sixth overall - landing Canada’s first commercial teaching brewery in a top ten that includes leading North American craft brewers, including the Boston Beer Company - brewer of Sam Adams beers.

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“This is a great result for our teaching brewery and speaks to the quality beers that are being created by students and staff in our Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program,” said Jon Ogryzlo, dean of Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute. “That our beers compare favourably with those of the top craft brewers in North America shows that our graduates will be ready to make significant contributions to Canada’s craft brewing industry.”

The Niagara College Teaching Brewery won Gold medals in the Bitter category for its Butler’s Bitter - a traditional English-style Bitter inspired by the War of 1812 - and in the Munchner Helles Category for its Helenboch Beer. Silver medals were won in the English Summer Ale category for its First Draft Ale and in the Wood/Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category for its Bertwell Barrel Aged Barley Wine.

The NC Teaching Brewery also received a nod from the judges in their top ten “most creative names” for its Rudolph’s Red Nose Barley Wine.

The beers entered into the competition were brewed by a crew of student brewers supervised by Niagara College brewmaster Jon Downing. The crew includes Elliot Herman, a program graduate and lead brewer, along with students Eric Cardin, Chris Eddy and Jamie Daust.

“Competitions like these are a great learning experience for our students,” said Downing. “It provides an opportunity to see what they’re doing well, while learning from some of the leading brewers in the industry.”

Downing also served as Director of Judging for the U.S. Open Beer Championships, and was responsible for training judges and overseeing the registration of entries. Due to Niagara College’s entries, he did not judge any categories in this year’s competition.

This year's U.S. Open Beer Championship saw more than 1,650 beers judged in 65 different categories. Last year, the Niagara College Teaching Brewery won three medals at the competition.

NC’s Teaching Brewery opened in April 2011 and supports Niagara College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program. NC Brewmaster students have created more than 70 varieties of beer, available at the on-campus retail beer store, while their signature First Draft brand is also available at select establishments throughout Ontario. NC’s first class of Brewmaster students graduated in June 2012. In spring 2012, Niagara College signed an agreement with Olds College in Alberta to deliver NC's Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program in western Canada.

The Canadian Food and Wine Institute, located on Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, is the college’s centre for food wine and beer education. It is home to Benchmark, the college’s teaching restaurant, as well as the Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


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