MADD Virgin Drinks taps into college expertise to craft award-winning alcohol free beer


Can a beer be completely alcohol free without sacrificing flavour? Meet MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager.

This newly-released alcohol free craft beer is poised to take the industry by storm.

The idea for an authentic tasting but alcohol free lager was conceived by Toronto-based MADD Virgin Drinks which offers a full line of alcohol free drinks and donates 10% of net sales to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada.

To help develop this product the company tapped into the unique expertise of Niagara College – home of Canada’s first Teaching Brewery as well as programs and capabilities in food and fermentation science as well as sensory analysis.

MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager is the first alcohol free craft beer on the market. It has 0% alcohol content unlike most non-alcoholic beers that contain up to 0.5% alcohol. In June it became available for purchase at select Walgreens stores across the United States and will soon be available in Canada at Shoppers Drug Mart Sobeys and Metro. 

In early July MADD Virgin Craft Brewed Lager achieved international recognition by winning the gold medal at the 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship in the non-alcoholic category.

“We turned to Niagara College to develop this product because we knew the college had the right facilities expertise and the first Brewmaster course in Canada” says Brian Bolshin MADD Virgin Drinks president and CEO. “We couldn’t be happier with the outcome and the amazing reviews it is already receiving.” 

The Niagara College team that produced the winning recipe comprised of staff and students was overseen by Niagara Research the research and innovation division of the College which provides real-world solutions for business industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities.

“Our Niagara Research team was uniquely positioned to develop a recipe for MADD Virgin Drinks as we collaborated with experts and students from our Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program as well as our on-campus Teaching Brewery and our Canadian Food and Wine Institute” says Marc Nantel PhD associate vice-president Research and Innovation at Niagara College. “Everybody wins in a project like this: the industry partner gets a new product on the market the professors working on the project get important networking and challenging professional development and our student researchers have the chance to work on a real-world project and see the results of their labour on the shelves of their local stores.” 

Student research assistants worked with faculty to conduct sensory panel research as well as with college chefs brewmasters and professors to identify the desirable attributes of a non-alcoholic lager. They developed the unique recipe at the on campus Canadian Food and Wine Institute Research Centre finding a way to eliminate all alcohol while maintaining the flavours and aromas associated with a good lager before putting the recipe to the test with consumer panel testing.

“No matter how many scientific experiments you do on a food or beverage nothing can account for the remarkable nature of our human senses and our personal preferences” says Amy Proulx PhD researcher and industry liaison and co-ordinator of NC’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. “Sensory analysis and consumer studies allow us to focus in and find consensus for best product formulations.” 

Niagara Research works on projects with industry to provide innovative solutions such as producing and testing prototypes evaluating new technologies and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses. With funding support from various provincial and federal agencies students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers to help industry partners leap forward in the marketplace.

The MADD Virgin Drinks Lager project was made possible by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s College and Community Innovation Program. 

To learn more about partnership opportunities with Niagara Research email or visit

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls. 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


For more information contact:

Michael Wales

Senior Communications Officer

Niagara College

Cell: 905.328.4101


Julie Greco

Communications Specialist

Niagara College

Cell: 905.328.2532


Brian Bolshin

President and CEO

MADD Virgin Drinks