• Make beer, not war


    POWER intoxicates and intoxication fuels power aptly describes the role that beer and alcohol played in the French, British, American and Canadian wars.

    This spirited challenge has been passed on to generations teaching students to “push on” and make beer. More of this suds story later.

    Two years after being declared French Emperor in 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte declared a large-scale embargo against British trade, in retaliation against the British Embargo imposed after the Queen’s naval forces defeated a coalition of French-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar.

    The United States tried to maintain neutrality until the Chesapeake Affair. The captain of the HMS Leopard searching for British deserters who enlisted with the Americans on board the 38-gun frigate Chesapeake. When the frigate commander resisted the boarding and search of the British deserters, the Leopard opened fire, killing three and injuring 18 crewmembers.

    On June 1, 1812, US President James Madison asked Congress to declare war against Britain. Henry Dearborn, a doctor by profession and then-Secretary of War, was put in charge of the northeastern sector from Niagara to the New England coast.

    Canada—formerly a French colony—was ceded to Britain after the Seven Years War and became part of a four-province federal dominion. When the Americans invaded Upper Canada including Niagara, the outnumbered British Canadian forces under the command of Major General Isaac Brock (appointed British administrator of Upper Canada) resisted and pushed back the American troops with the help of the First Nations.

    In a bold military stroke, Brock attacked and captured a key US lost at Michilimackinac Island in Lake Huron, on July 17, and demanded the surrender of Detroit, giving the British and Canadian allies control of Michigan territory and the Upper Mississippi.

    Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock was 43 years old when he died and declared the “Hero of Upper Canada.” A university was established in his honor, and students observe the academic motto of “channeling their strengths to inspire themselves and others to invoke positive change within the Brock, local, and global communities.”

    The British and Canadian soldiers of the War of 1812 period were renowned as prodigious consumers of alcohol.

    In fact, then to-be-Duked of Wellington wrote in 1811 that, “British soldiers are fellows who have all enlisted for drink—that is the plain fact—they have enlisted for drink.”

    And guess what, the brew that kept them going as part of their pay was rum and beer. While rum was supplied and rationed, the soldiers could easily make spruce beer given the ample, cheap and available resources such as spruce and molasses and the fresh water of Niagara.

    Now, Niagara has its own brewery and run by students at that. To see how visitors sample the beer of 1812 and other student concoctions, click here for the video I shot, edited and posted – https://www.facebook.com/AmerikaAtbpTV/videos/1015644531852389/

    Niagara College established the first Teaching Brewery in Canada in 2010, responding to a call this time in a war against alcohol imports.

    Statistics Canada reported that in 2012, the country’s brewing industry “generated revenues of $4.9 billion, and employed 9,081 people.” But Canada is a net importer of beer with imports amounting to $671.2 million in 2014 and exports of $215.4 million in the same year. The United States accounts for 96 percent of exports and the majority of imports come from the United States (25 percent), followed by the Netherlands (19 percent), Mexico, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

    And so the war continues with local breweries like Niagara College notching small but increasing victories.

    “Between 2004 and 2012, sales of goods manufactured by the Canadian beer industry increased 11.6 percent from $4.4 billion to $4.9 billion. During the same period, exports of beer declined at an average annual rate of 4.1 percent, imports had an average annual growth rate of 6.8 percent. Imports as a percentage of the domestic market increased slightly from 8 percent in 2004, up to 11.4 percent in 2012. In 2012, direct employment returned to 2004 levels with just over 9,000 employees. In recent years the craft beer industry has experienced resurgence. Even as per capita beer consumption dropped, sales and consumption of craft beers have been on the rise.” (Statistics Canada)

    The Niagara College Teaching Brewery provides a practical learning environment for students in its Brewmaster/Brewery Operations Management program.

    From an initial 24 students, the program now has a waiting list of applicants—among them international students—hoping to be part of the graduates that are 100 percent assured of employment after graduation.

    Given the demand for skilled workers in Canada’s burgeoning craft brewing industry, the Teaching Brewery supplies the need for a training system that addresses all aspects of brewery education to fill industry-specific positions with qualified people who have practical experience and specialist knowledge in beer production, brewery management and product sales/marketing.

    The open-concept state-of-the-art 1,500 sq. ft. teaching micro-brewery facility allows students to brew their own craft beer on-campus and gain significant hands-on training in beer making, sales management and sensory evaluation.

    Located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, the facility includes both a large-scale system capable of producing 1,000 liters of beer and a smaller pilot system that allows students to brew one keg at a time—an ideal setup for the creation of experimental brews and special beers for events that highlight the interaction between beer, food and wine.

    On the other side of Niagara, the first university in Niagara was established to pursue public research and push the boundaries of learning. Brock is the only university in Canada that is located in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, part of international body’s Man and Biosphere Programs (MAB).

    The MAB program identifies, develops and maintains “a unique platform for cooperation on research and development, capacity-building and networking to share information, knowledge and experience on three interlinked issues: biodiversity loss, climate change and sustainable development. It contributes not only to better understanding of the environment, but also promotes greater involvement of science and scientists in policy development concerning the wise use of biological diversity.”

    To date, 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries, including 16 transboundary sites, have been included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, with Brock University among them.

    With 12 – 15 million visitors to Niagara every year, international and domestic students alike find the war against unemployment and career stagnation winnable. Graduates of the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program has a 100 percent job placement rate.

    Brock University’s student population of more than 18,000, on the other hand, can look forward to joining the success of 85,000 graduates pushing the boundaries of research and academic excellence throughout Canada and around the world. With a dependable Career Center that actively matches graduates and employers, Brock University graduates enjoy one of the highest employment rates of all Ontario universities at 96.5 per cent.

    For a giddying experience aboard the Hornblower at Niagara Falls, log on to this link <https://www.facebook.com/IVCmigration/videos/1185516998133692/>

    In both cases, these Niagara educational institutions—Brock University and Niagara College—instill in their students the winning spirit.

    And that deserves a toast.


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