Becoming a Brewster


Donny C. & I – Brew Beasts

Brewster Name Meaning: Northern English and Scottish: occupational name for a brewer of beer or ale, from Old English breowan ‘to brew’. Brewer is the usual term in southern England, while Brewster is mainly midland, northern, and Scottish. ( )


The top portion of my brew recipe

As I am of Scottish decent and I created a recipe and brewed my very own, Strong Scotch Ale, also known as a Wee Heavy, I am happy to now be part of the Brewster clan, though I will ALWAYS be a Hamilton, through and through!

I have really enjoyed the 14 months that I have been a pub keep at Wooden Legs Brewing Company! (Check out our YouTube Channel HERE!) I have loved the opportunity to become more knowledgeable in beer styles and flavor profiles and to have the chance to try many brews.  Each pub keep is required to become a Cicerone Certified Beer Server and we boast South Dakota’s 1st and only female Certified Cicerone (Level 2), Angela.   Also, as part of our prestige, each pub keep is allowed to create and brew their own beer recipe.

On Veteran’s Day (11.11.15), I spent the day with our head brewer, Donny C. and through experimentation and laughs, created my Scotch Ale. (Name will be released once it is officially posted to Untappd)    I took over the WLBC Instgram (look here for some video shorts of us brewing) account to share the experience with the world and now I would like to share it with all of you 🙂

This process started almost a year ago.   I became a Cicerone certified beer server in October 2014.  I spent time researching; reading and tasting.  In Dec. 2014, I spent a day with our then head brewer, Chris “The Welsh”, and helped brew a batch of our well known, Three5Three Stout.  I wanted to know about the brewing process first hand.   I then continued to read a few books: Tasting Beer, Brewing Classic Styles, and Designing Great Beers to name a few.


I started my beer journey at the age of 21, living in Oxford, UK.  Prior to that relocation for school, I had only imbibed what was available at the college keg parties or on sale for 2fers during happy hours.  I actually didn’t really like beer and kept to wine, whiskey/coke or other mixed beverages.

Guinness changed my view on beer.  It was dark and scary to look at, but it was smooth and sweet on my lips.  Being a hop, skip & a jump from The Lamb and Flag and The Eagle and Child, I often enjoyed a pint between classes.  Guinness led the way for ales, lagers and more.   And what I found I loved the most was the Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy.  I love the sparkling caramel colors with flavors of smoke, molasses and chocolates…..this all depending on the individual brew.

So….with that knowledge,a Scotch Ale is what I set out to make.  I read recipes and descriptions of finished products.  I tasted scotch ales and listed the flavor profiles I enjoyed and I created a recipe with the help of the BeerSmith app.

Now, back to the present and brewing beer!

HERE is a link with a more detailed description of the larger brewing process if you are interested, but here is my version 🙂 – Even if you aren’t interested, look at the link…it is super cool with motion graphics 🙂

Now, we started with a recipe…simple enough.  I created the recipe and handed it to the head brew and owner, Seth, who then plugs it into our brewing software.   With a few tweaks to keep us at an ABV (alcohol by volume) that is legal to sell in South Dakota (YES, my original version was BIG!) and keep the flavor profile on par, we could then print out a final recipe.  Now I say, final….but brewing something new is experimental and fun, Donny C. and I deviated slightly from our printed recipe to truly make it my own.


We measured and milled our grains, lots of great caramel specialty grains and Donny C. surprised me with a Simpsons Peated specialty malt for a true taste of the highlands.  Our original recipe called for 1lb of our regular smoked malt, but I went with a 3 times is a charm…3lbs of the Smoked Peated.

Once our 260+ lbs of grains were loaded into our mash ton, we set up the hot liquor tank to disperse into the grains.  I wish I could explain the smell, but it was like wrapping up in a cozy, sweet, malty sweater of warmth as the grains steeped.


That’s A LOT of grains!

When we were ready to transfer the wort to the boiling tank, we decided to go nuts and pull off the first 12 gallons to create a decoction.  Now, to be honest I had never even heard of brewing decoction before, but it made sense to me for a scotch ale.  I wanted a sweetness that was molasses like, so more or less we were making syrup from our wort.   As the wort boiled in the tank, I boiled our 12 gallons separately and slowly incorporated 18lbs of sugar to create my scotch ale syrup. (I tasted it and was in love!)

At the end of the boil, after we had added our bittering hops and other items, the decoction syrup was added to the boil.

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We then transferred our beer mixture to the fermenting tank.  We harvested some 3rd generation yeast and added it and let the yeast do its job on the great sugars of the beer.

Along the way, we made notes of our deviations from the recipe and took samples to gauge gravity of the liquids.  I have tasted my beer at every stage and continue to check on it every few days to see how it is developing.

Brewing, like baking, is really a labor of love!  I am so thankful that I was given this opportunity and am very excited to taste the finished product.








I promise to let you know my personal review, but if you are in the area next month….stop in to Wooden Legs and see if it is on tap…even if it isn’t you might get a chance to talk to me.

Blessed Brewing,







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