Niagara on the Lake, Ontario – Staff and students at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery are clinking beer steins this week after three student-made beers medaled at the U.S. Open Beer Championships, including winning gold.
The trio of beers that were awarded honours at the competition, which drew 6,000 entries from throughout North America, are:
Gold for Beer 101 Bock in the Bock category;
Silver for Beer 101 Strong in the Old Ale category;
Silver for Beer 101 Bitter in the Bitter category.
Both the Beer 101 Bitter and Strong have consistently medalled at the U.S. Open Beer Championships over the past eight years. This is also the third medal this year for the Beer 101 Bock, which also scored a gold at the Ontario Brewing Awards and silver at the Canadian Brewing Awards earlier this fall.
“This is a significant accomplishment for students and staff at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery,” said Steve Gill, general manager of NC’s Learning Enterprises. “Our beers have performed well at competitions this year attesting to the quality of the applied education we offer at the college and to our students’ abilities to make some of the best beers in North America year after year.”
College Brewmaster Jon Downing noted that students in the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations program mastered the key characteristics judges seek when choosing winning beers in a competition.
“Students are learning how to make consistent, high-quality beer and they’re knocking it out of the park,” Downing said. “Quality and consistency are what the judges look for, and these beers have it. And with the Bock, we just nailed the recipe this year.”
The U.S. Open Beer Championships is the second-largest competition in North America and the only one to include suds from both professional and home brewers. Judges from the U.S. and Canada select winners in blind tastings, knowing only the categories, not the names or locations of beers competing.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, judging was held in both the U.S. and Canada.
Competition Director Dow Scoggins said Niagara students don’t just perform well at the competition while enrolled in school. They continue to do so after graduation.
He noted NC alumnus Jared Lewinski, who’s now the head brewer at Listermann Brewing Company in Cincinnati, produced four beers that medalled this year, including a gold in the nut beer category.
Another alumnus, Henriques Soares, who came from Brazil to study in the program, saw two of his beers for Tire Shack Brewing Co. in Moncton, N.B., medal, including a gold in the Gose category.
“One of the important things about Niagara College is the students do well there, but they also medal outside the College,” Scoggins said. “The No. 1 thing is we’re very big on clean beers with no alcohol taste. That speaks to the quality of brewing and the brewery at Niagara College.”
The award-winning beers are sold in 473-millilitre cans, which are available for purchase at the Wine Visitor + Education Centre, located at the College’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Sales of the brews support student education.
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