Brewing a relationship: DC alumni continues to give back

Category: Alumni Success Stories

Jeff Dornan has always prided himself on his work ethic.

While completing the Durham College (DC) Business – General program, in tandem with Ontario Tech University’s Bachelor of Commerce, he also worked full-time, leaving little time for extracurriculars.

Now, as co-owner of Oshawa-based All or Nothing Brewhouse, the DC alum has continued to nurture a relationship with the college, finding new ways to connect and give back.

“As an alumnus and local business owner, I’ve always looked to Durham College as a guiding light in the area, and I wanted to do more than be a supplier and partner, I wanted to help guide the direction of the college and contribute to its continued growth.” said Dornan, who joined the DC Board of Governors in 2023.

As a student, Dornan said he valued the hands-on experience and microlearning gained at DC, which helped as he and his brother, Eric, kicked off their craft beer business in 2013.

Starting as contract brewers, the brothers produced their recipe at other facilities and running distribution out of their small office in south Oshawa. After a few years of growth, they purchased Trafalgar Brewery in Oakville and rebranded it All or Nothing Brewhouse, but with their sights always set on returning to Oshawa, they purchased the old Beer Store location on Ritson Road and opened in the spring of 2019.

Always with their roots in Durham Region, when Bistro ’67 opened its doors in 2013, All or Nothing Brewhouse began partnering with the restaurant to create unique beers using ingredients from the fields at DC’s Centre for Food. Collaborations have included lemongrass, raspberries and sweet potatoes.

Dornan also helped launch Durham Lords Ale, which was sparked when the Campus Ice Centre wanted to serve a classic ale instead of the unique, experimental flavours All or Nothing was creating in partnership with Bistro ’67. As a result, the crisp and refreshing Durham Lords Ale was launched.

And, as another way to give back to DC, a portion of sales of Durham Lords Ale is contributed to DC’s Student Experience Fund which helps support student’s most pressing needs, from equipping teaching spaces to supporting financial aid.

“Our customers have been very supportive,” said Dornan. “People really want to support local businesses and we’re committed to keeping the money we earn in the community. We’re buying everything from our ingredients to our stickers locally. We’re really trying to be an engine for the community to grow – to see our neighbours do well as well as our own business.

“Staying connected to Durham College after graduation has been so helpful. It really is a hub for Durham Region and has been a great way to make connections.”