Teaching Brewery toasts to Ontario’s first brew pub


Staff and students at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery crafted blast from the past, just in time to raise a glass to the 30-year anniversary of Ontario’s first brew pub – the Atlas Hotel.

To prepare for the special milestone, the graduating class of the College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program joined college Brewmaster Jon Downing – who was also the first brewmaster at the Atlas Hotel – in re-creating the original pub’s brew from three decades ago, Cas XXX.

On Friday, April 22 – the exact date that the Atlas Hotel brew pub opened in Welland in 1986 – Downing sampled the 30-year-old recipe along with brew pub’s former manager Moe Coutu and former employees.

Downing initiated the event in an effort to mark the milestone as he realized the anniversary was approaching. He has kept photographs and numerous newspaper clippings about the Atlas brew pub’s opening preserved in a special album, including congratulatory letters about the opening received from then Welland MP Allan Pietz, and then minister of consumer and commercial relations Monte Kwinter.

“I thought it would be fun to mark the 30-year anniversary by re-creating the original beer,” said Downing.

Downing and Brewmaster students also crafted a new twist on the old Cas XXX recipe by using 100% Ontario grown Cascade hops from Clear Valley, called Cass XXX CV. The beer is being sold at the NC Teaching Brewery retail store, (while supplies last).

“Back then we were ahead of our time. We were educating people about beer with Cas XXX, letting people know the ingredients using Cascade hops,” said Downing. “You see breweries doing the same thing today.”

The 30-year anniversary of Ontario’s first brew pub comes about five years after the College made history by launching its Brewmaster program and teaching brewery at its Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Both the program and the teaching brewery were the first of their kind in Canada, producing graduates in high demand by the industry, with craft beer among the fastest-growing sectors of alcoholic beverages in North America.