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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Déjà brew: Niagara College Teaching Brewery wins again at U.S. Open Beer Championship

Niagara College’s Teaching Brewery professors and students are celebrating another round of success at the 2017 United States Open Beer Championship.

NC’s Teaching Brewery earned two bronze medals at the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship earlier this month. More than 6,000 beers representing more than 100 different styles from breweries from around the world were submitted into this year’s competition to be considered by judges from England, Canada and the United States.

Out of the 24 medals won by Canadian breweries, NC’s Teaching Brewery earned two bronze medals – one for its Beer 101 Bitter and another for its Beer 101 Strong. This marks two years in a row and three years out of four that Beer 101 Strong has earned bronze at the U.S. Open. It is the ninth award in five years for Beer101 Bitter, which is also sold in bottles as Butler’s Bitter.

Beer 101 Strong is a strong British ale brewed to be blended in other beers or served on special occasions. Originally brewed as a Christmas celebration ale, the brew was so popular it was brought back and renamed. The brew has won five awards to date: gold (2016) at the Ontario Brewing Awards, silver (2015) at the Dublin Craft Beer Cup, and three bronze medals (2014 as Brewmaster Strong, 2015 and 2017) at the U.S. Open Beer Championships.

The multiple award-winning Beer 101 Bitter — which captured bronze in the Bitter category – was created in 2012 (as Butler’s Bitter) to celebrate the bicentennial of the war of 1812. With a 4.4% alcohol content, this English style Bitter has won numerous contests already including gold (2012), silver (2011, 2013, 2015) and bronze (2013) at the U.S. Open, gold (2013) and silver (2017) at the Ontario Brewing awards, gold at the Canadian Brewing awards (2013), silver 2013 and bronze (2014) at the Dublin Beer Cup (2013), and bronze at the World Beer Championships (2014).

“The fact that brews win in multiple years shows that the students are learning how to brew consistent high quality beers,” said NC brewmaster and professor Jon Downing. “Different groups of students or classes have brewed every single one of our entries.”

Downing who serves as director of judging for the U.S. Open Beer Championships – but is not involved with judging entries from the NC Teaching Brewery – travelled to Oxford, Mississippi for the competition judging. He was accompanied by 15 students from the College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program who had the opportunity to help facilitate judging and serve samples, among other duties.

“Having the students participate in the judging is a great real world experience for them,” said Downing “Apart from the exposure to many different beers, breweries and the sensory training that enhances, they also have the opportunity to judge with educators, owners, brewers, writers and many other great beer folk.”

For Mike Lyons, who worked as a medic/firefighter in the Alberta oil fields before enrolling in the two-year Brewmaster program at NC, it was the second time he had the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Open Beer Championship.

“As a student in the program, it is amazing to see the College place in a couple categories,” Lyons said. “It is reassuring that the beers we are making are not only providing us with valuable knowledge and experience, but the final product is at a comparable level of quality to great craft breweries across North America and the world.

“I think it gives a lot of merit to the program at Niagara College and legitimizes its place as an important member of Ontario’s craft beer industry.”

In addition to the two winning beers from its Teaching Brewery, Niagara College’s research division developed another beer which won gold in the non-alcoholic category: MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager (Hill Street Beverage, Canada). More than three years ago, MADD Virgin Drinks turned to Research & Innovation at Niagara College (formerly Niagara Research) to develop a beer with 0% alcohol. In addition to college researchers, product development tapped into the expertise of staff and students at the NC Teaching Brewery.

For info about the U.S. Open Beer Championship visit

Niagara College medals at the U.S. Open Beer Championship

Silver, First Draft Ale (Bitter)
Silver, Stomp (Old Ale)
Bronze, Rudolph’s Red Nose Ale (Barley Wine)

Gold, Butler’s Bitter (Bitter)
Gold, Helenboch (Munich Helles)
Silver, First Draft Ale (English Summer Ale)
Silver, Bertwell’s Rudolph’s (Wood/Barrel Aged)
NC Teaching Brewery ranked No. 6 brewery in competition

Silver, First Draft Ale (English Summer Ale)
Bronze, Butler’s Bitter (Bitter)
Bronze, Brewmaster Wheat (German Wheat Beer)

Bronze, Brewmaster Strong (Old Ale)

Gold, Brewmaster Stout (Foreign Stout)
Silver, Butler’s Bitter/BEER 101 Bitter (Bitter)
Bronze, Liqueur de Malt (American Imperial Pilsner)

Bronze, Beer 101 Strong Ale (Old Ale)

NC’s award-winning brews are available for purchase at the NC Teaching Brewery retail outlet located at 135 Taylor Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake. The store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Currently celebrating its 50th year as a College of Applied Arts and Technology, NC is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario. A regional college with global reach, NC offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs.

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