Brewmaster student wins third place in Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition


Nick Bobas Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management student at Niagara College placed ahead of commercial brewers to capture third place in the Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer competition.

He may have been up against professionals but that didn’t stop Brewmaster student Nick Bobas from crafting an award-winning beer.

The 34-year-old Niagara College student in his final year of Niagara College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program has been named a third-place winner in the Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition. Hosted by the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention the competition brings Ontario hop producers and the Ontario brewing industry together to promote the use of Ontario-grown hops.

“Nick was one of two students and one of 10 competitors in this year’s competition. Only commercial hop producers and brewers are permitted in the competition with the exception of brewing students who we feel represent the next great wave of Ontario’s craft brewing community” said Jason Deveau co-organizer of the competition. “We wanted to introduce these up-and-coming brewmasters to Ontario’s hops as early as possible.” 

Bobas partnered with Clear Valley Hops – a hops farm near Collingwood Ontario – for the competition which was open to brewer-grower teams or breweries that grow hops. Competitors faced the challenge of creating a new recipe for a Robust Porter beer following style guidelines for alcohol content aroma and more.

“Since this is my first competition I feel really good about placing third. Developing a recipe on a homebrew system which had to follow given parameters and applying it to a big 200-litre system at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery was a very valuable experience for me” said Bobas who lives in Toronto. “I’m excited to get feedback from the judges.” 

Bobas who is originally from Ottawa is a classical musician who has a bachelor’s degree from McGill University and a master’s degree from Boston University – both in music. The bassist has played in Canada with the Calgary Philharmonic the Thunder Bay Symphony and in Norway with the Bergen Philharmonic. After several years of home brewing he decided to further his interest by enrolling in Niagara College’s Brewmaster program. 

“The success and quality of our students in the Brewmaster program never ceases to amaze me” said dean of the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute Craig Youdale. “While I know the training they get in class is vital it’s their dedication and passion for brewing that shows up in these competitions.” 

“Nick’s third place highlights the excellent quality of our students the unparalleled applied education our students are getting and the progress small-scale hopyards are making – especially their increasing impact on the craft brewing industry” said College Brewmaster professor Jon Downing.

Bobas placed just behind one of NC’s Brewmaster professors Victor North who entered from his Hamilton-based brewery Garden Brewers partnered with Buttrum’s Family Farm. First place was won by The Olde Stone Brewing Company partnered with Slowacres Organics. 

Judging for the third annual Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition took place at the Ontario Fruit and Veg Show in Niagara Falls on Feb. 18. An award ceremony is expected to be held in April 2015. For details about the competition visit

The Niagara College Teaching Brewery was Canada’s first teaching brewery and is a unique applied learning environment for students in Niagara College’s two-year Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management diploma program – the first of its kind in Canada. The brewery forms a key component of NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) – a leader in culinary wine and beer education in Canada. Located at Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus the CFWI is also home to the College’s Teaching Winery – the first and only commercial teaching winery in Canada – and Benchmark the college’s teaching restaurant. 

Niagara College offers more than 100 bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. 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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