by Mark Murphy
In short, the program has been amazing. I think I’ve increased my beer knowledge 1,000% and have found myself consistently bringing up beer in conversation and introducing new styles to friends and family over the Christmas break.
|Niagara College Teaching Brewery|
We had seven courses this semester, four of them relating to beer (Intro to Brewing, Sensory Evaluation, Basic Practical Brewing and Brewing Ingredients). Of our four instructors this semester, I would guess that they combine at least 70+ years of industry experience, which is pretty awesome. For the school’s brewmaster, Jon Downing, the teaching brewery represents the 107th brewery opening that he’s been a part of. Clearly, we’re learning from the best.
This semester, we’ve covered topics such as the malting process, barley physiology, brewing water, hops and have discussed brewing equipment from the hot liquor tank through to the fermentation tanks and packaging equipment. In our sensory class we tasted 13 different kinds of malt, smelled lots of hops, explored American, English, German and Belgian beer styles and have run through the entire Siebel off-flavour tasting kit (those were some bad weeks!). We’ve also had presentations from Hop Union, Canada Malting, General Filtration, Criveller Brew Tech (our equipment supplier), Eco Lab and Bill White (who will be teaching us next year). We’ve visited Taps Brew Pub, Niagara’s Best, Sleeman’s, Mill Street and Steamwhistle. As you can see, we’ve been pretty busy so far, and this is followed up next semester with 6 of our 7 courses relating to beer.
First Draft” lager (a crisp golden lager) and a Canadian Pale Ale are already on sale at the campus retail store.
I think things will start to get really interesting once we’re unleashed on the pilot system and start getting into our own recipe formulation. I know everyone is really looking forward to that.
Stay tuned for a chocolate beer in February to be released during the culinary program’s “Decadence” chocolate and ice wine festival. All in all I’m having the time of my life and can’t wait to find a job in the industry this summer.