R&I school project turns into career for NC grad

Tell us about where you work.

I work as the Head Brewer in Miski Brewing, Barrie, Ont. It is a gluten-free, organic, vegan, and kosher certified brewery. After a lot of effort, we officially launched the product in the market last month, in July. For now, we have one label being sold called Ancestral, the first 100% quinoa beer in the world, but more are on the way. The plan is to have more labels like a Belgian, an IPA, a lighter version of the Ancestral and a non-alcoholic, and we will be able to provide them with the four certifications pointed above.

Currently, the facility has basically the same equipment as the other regular breweries, but one thing that differs us from the other is that we use a press mash filter. It makes it possible for us to use the organic quinoa blend flour and achieve great efficiency, only a few use it. Since the market is demanding and fortunately, we have room, we purchased a bigger system including a 30hL brewhouse and 60hL fermentation tanks and beer brite tanks. We hope to start using the new system in a few weeks, they are on the way.

What year did you graduate and what program?

I graduated in August 2021 from the Brew and Brewmaster program.

What led you to want to go to Niagara College in the first place?

Still in Brazil, I decided that I had to make a change, professionally speaking. At that time, I already was working in the beer industry, but I would like to have more knowledge. Not just in theory, but applicable knowledge as well. Then I started looking for recognized beer programs that could give me a boost in my career. When I found out that Niagara College has experienced professionals, modern facilities and it is well recognized in the market, I was sure it was the right place for me.

Describe your current job and what you like about it.

I am the Head Brewer in Miski Brewing. In this position I have to manage all that is involved in the production aspect of the brewery. From ingredients to final product. I have to know if the beer is matching our standards, if we have enough ingredients for brewing, if we are following the safety guidelines and I also have to ensure the workplace is running well and safely for the sake of our employers.

A great point in this job is the freedom I have to create recipes, following the guidelines of the certification bodies (gluten-free, organic, vegan, kosher, remember?). Since we use quinoa, we have an unusual sugar source as our base, I have the feeling we are in an exciting new world.

How was your experience with R&I helped prepare you for your current role?

My experience with R&I was awesome because I had the chance to improve my experience working in a laboratory environment, which before college was not that great. In parallel, I had the chance to work with experienced professionals from different areas than beer which made me understand a bit more about other ways of thought and other points to pay attention to, not only the production itself.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?

Coincidentally, during my time with R&I, we focused on developing a certain quinoa beer, to see if it was possible to brew a 100% quinoa beer.

“I had the chance to work with experienced professionals from different areas than beer which made me understand a bit more about other ways of thought and other points to pay attention to, not only the production itself.”
– Daniel Fonseca

Do you have any special memories during your time as a student at NC?

In the fourth term it was incredible to receive family and friends in the Brew Project, an event to show the public a beer you design and brew in this last term. It was a really special moment, because at that point we had passed the worst moment of the pandemic and things were getting better.

What advice would you give to a current student?

Grab all the chances you can, they are worth it.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

After being in the workforce, I’ve learned many things, but the main one is that the routine makes all the difference in our industry. Thanks for that Rodrigo.

What do you do in your personal time?

In my personal time, I enjoy homebrewing, finding the perfect craft lager, spending time with family in Barrie’s waterfront in summer, and trying not falling ice skating in winter.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

The first six-pack sold after months of struggle, sleepless nights, and so much effort.