Above: Brewmaster grad Mark Murphy and his wife Mandie stand at the site of the future home of Left Field Brewery in Toronto.
With his bachelor’s degree behind him, a chartered accountant designation and a steady job as an internal auditor, Mark Murphy’s career path seemed great– on paper.
After a couple of years of working behind a desk however, this Brock University Accounting grad had another dream brewing. He began to feel an urge to work with his hands, and to work for himself someday. At the same time, he developed a strong interest in the beer scene and began to think of starting his own brewery.
He was on a business trip when he stumbled upon the news in a beer blog that Niagara College was launching its Brewmaster and Brewery Management Operations program – the first of its kind in Canada. That was the moment that he made the life-changing decision to pursue his passion.
Murphy became part of Niagara College’s inaugural Brewmaster class and after two years in the program, he graduated in June 2012 prepared to take the industry by storm.
“The program’s greatest asset is the fact that there’s a production brewery on campus. All the students have the opportunity to brew, create recipes and spend a significant amount of time at a real working brewery,” he said. “As graduates, we were immediately able to start contributing to our employers.”
After graduation, he took on a job as a brewing supervisor at Molson Coors. He steered his career in new direction in March 2013 when he launched Left field Brewery with his wife Mandie. His first official day at the helm of his own brewery was exactly three years, nine months and five days after he decided to apply to NC’s Brewmaster program.
His game plan: to create distinct, flavourful beers that can stand on taste alone. Murphy aims to brew the type of beer that he enjoys drinking, inspired by the sport he loves to play and watch that can be enjoyed during a game.
Left Field began as a hobby home brewery but it didn’t take long for it to pick up steam. His beer has become available on tap at more than 60 establishments in the GTA.
While new, Murphy’s venture is already expanding. A future home for the brewery is currently under construction in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood, expected to open in early 2015. The 6,000-square-foot, 20 hectolitre brewery will not only enable Murphy to brew his own beer on site, it will include a retail store and a tasting room.
Having a brewery of his own comes along with new challenges every day, said Murphy. He noted that the connections he made at NC continue to help him along the way.
“I got to know a number of students and teachers at NC quite well during my time there and many of them have been tremendously helpful along the way,” he said. “From lending us a brewing space to test pilot batches, help and equipment with bottling our samples, to photography for our website, the supportiveness of the NC beer community has been great.”
For Murphy, the most rewarding part of his career is a beer at the end of the day and hearing from beer lovers about what they think of his creation.
“I could not be where I am today without the education and training I received at NC,” he said.
His advice to future Brewmasters who hope to follow in his footsteps?
“Go for it and get out there. The industry is so fun and friendly,” said Murphy. “The number of people you can meet at beer events and the amount of knowledge you can gain from talking to them is invaluable.”
Open house event
For a sneak peek at the new Left Field Brewery space, attend the Open House event: Saturday, Feb. 22 at 36 Wagstaff Dr., from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.