NC Teaching Brewery wins big at first-ever U.S. Open College Beer Championships

Niagara College was named Grand National Champion at the inaugural U.S. Open College Beer Championships, held recently in the United States.

The new competition is open to any college or university offering courses in brewing. The competition saw entries from 10 different colleges and universities, and seven took home medals in five categories. Niagara College took home four medals for student-brewed beers, including: gold for 16-73 Pils in the German Pilsner category; gold for its Caramel Machiato Golden Stout in the Open category; silver for Witty Grandpa in the Witbier category; and bronze for its Czarina in the Imperial Stout category. The gold winning pilsner was designed and brewed by third-semester students while the Czarina and Caramel Machiato Golden Stout were individual efforts by fourth-semester student Keegan Dombrosky.

Other medalists included Central Michigan University, the University of Houston, Colorado State University, Michigan State University, Appalachian State University, Auburn University and Schenectady County Community College.

“The experience of being able to compete in a competition like this was truly invaluable to my continued growth as a brewer,” said Dombrosky, who came to Niagara College from Simsbury, CT, and will graduate from the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program this fall. “To be able to test my mettle against the best brewing students in North America and have such success gives me great confidence and excitement as I prepare to finish this amazing program. The purpose of this competition was to determine the best future brewers in North America and to now be a part of that discussion is a great honor.”

“It is always fun to be first and for our students to win the inaugural U.S. Open College Beer Championship is excellent,” said Niagara College brewmaster and professor Jon Downing. “The entries were designed and brewed by students from all four semesters of our Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program. As we prepare our students to excel in the burgeoning craft brewing industry, it’s very satisfying to see their work earn international recognition.”

In the U.S. Open Beer Championships, also held recently, Niagara College won a bronze medal for its Beer 101 Strong. That competition, which saw more than 5,000 beers entered, also saw Niagara College brewing professor, Rob Doyle and head brewer, Curt Bentley, win Bronze for a Bronan brewed for their company High Road Brewing. MADD Virgin Lager – developed by MADD Virgin Drinks and Niagara College’s Research and Innovation Division – won silver in the Non-Alcoholic category.

Judging for the competitions took place in Oxford, OH, Atlanta, GA and Auburn, AB. Sixteen Niagara College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program took part in the judging, along with Downing, who serves as director of judging. Neither Downing nor the students judged any Niagara College Teaching Brewery entries.

“Today, the craft beer industry has over 15% of the beer market by volume, but supplies 50% of the jobs in the brewing industry,” said Dow Scoggins, director of the U.S. Open College Beer Championships and U.S. Beer Championships. “Being a former brewery owner, I was thrilled to see colleges and universities starting brewing programs and degrees. These schools provide the industry with qualified workers, and the U.S. Open College Beer Championship was started to help promote these needed programs.”

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

NC’s Teaching Brewery, the first fully-licensed teaching brewery in Canada, opened at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus in April 2011. The facility allows students to brew their own craft beer on campus and get hands-on training in beer making, management and sensory evaluation. The beers are also sold on-campus at the NC Teaching Brewery retail store.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, 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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