Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Niagara College Brewmaster Students 101 - Mark Murphy

I last reported on the new Niagara College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program back in May 2010 (well, actually earlier today) and since then a lot has happened. A 1,600 square foot brewery has been built, brewing has commenced, their first beer has been launched and a semester has passed. The school received 186 applications, and 24 students were selected to be part of the inaugural class. Throughout the next year of the program I'd like to introduce you to a few of the students and allow them to provide updates on how the course is progressing.

First up is Mark Murphy, who I first met when he volunteered to help steward the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you find yourself enrolling in the Brewmaster program?
Well, like a lot of people I've meet, beer was not my first career path, but became a passion that could not be ignored. I graduated with a Bachelors of Accounting degree from Brock University in 2005, and went on to get my Chartered Accountant (CA) designation in 2007. Since 2005 I've worked as an auditor performing financial statement audits, tax returns and operational audits. I can say that I loved the challenge of obtaining my CA designation, but once that was done, I quickly learned that I'm not the type of person who will enjoy sitting at a desk for the next 40 years, doing work that I'm not passionate about. In addition to a love of great beer, I've always had an entrepreneurial mindset and also really enjoy rolling up my sleeves and getting dirty. I actually first heard about the program on this very blog, and immediately could not shake the idea from my head. Since I'm still (relatively) young and don't have kids I figured there would be no better time to make the switch.

Describe the moment when you first saw the craft beer light?
Throughout university I guess you could say I was "price conscious", so I bought pretty much anything that was on sale. It's funny to look back now, but when I first discovered the existence of Keith's red I thought it was a 1,000 times more interesting than the more bland lagers of the day. At the same time I was always open to a Guinness, so there was definitely some potential there. After graduation (when I had a bit more money) I would routinely load up on LCBO single cans and bottles. The scales definitely tipped when I first tried Innis & Gunn (original oak aged) and Fullers annual vintage release (bottle conditioned). At those moments, my mind was blown in terms of the flavour possibilities with beer. Since then I haven't looked back.

What's your favorite beer style?
I love this question! Since I'm in the brewmaster program I usually get asked what my favourite beer is by friends and family... How could I possibly choose just one? These days I'd definitely side with the big American IPA's.

Stay tuned for the next post as Mark updates us on how the first semester has progressed. For more information on the program you can visit and be sure to watch here ( for the launch of the college's first beers.


Anonymous said...

I am in the same position as Mark Murphy right now (brock accounting) and looking to switch. How can I go about contacting him? I have some questions.

Troy Burtch said...

Anonymous - send me an email ( and I'll forward Mark's information along.

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