Great Western Brewing Company has been a Saskatoon staple since 1989 when 16 employees saved the brewery from closure, but recently there’s been a big change.
The dream job of brewmaster has become a reality for Amanda Butt.
“It’s a pretty fun title. You walk into a room and introduce yourself as a brewmaster and people think it’s interesting because everyone wants to talk about beer,” Butt said.
Originally from Newfoundland, Butt has a degree in biochemistry, a master’s in brewing from Scotland and a decade of experience in the industry – making her the perfect candidate for the job.
“We won the jackpot with Amanda,” Great Western president and CEO Michael Micovcin said.
“We’ve got an old brewery that we have to modernize. We’re looking at new and different styles of beers and trying to figure out where the consumer is heading.”
On top of being an innovator, the brewmaster is in charge of everything from analyzing raw materials like hops, wheat and barley, to testing the final product and a dozen steps in between.
“The brewmaster is really in charge of overseeing the quality of the beer and that’s everything from looking at the raw ingredients and making sure they’re of the highest quality, right on through to making sure the beer is exactly the way we want it before putting it into a bottle, can or keg,” Butt said.
Variations in growing seasons constantly affect ingredients and keeps the brewmaster on her toes.
“The brewmaster has to be able to take these inconsistent raw materials and ensure at the end of the day, the beer is within spec. That’s the science of beer that’s so critical,” Micovcin said.
Butt checks the beer daily as different brands rotate throughout the week. The process takes about 30 days from start to finish. Great Western produces around 60 million cans worth of beer in a year.
“We test out beer at all of the different stages so we’re looking at density, colour, bitterness; but we’re also tasting it as well. So while we do a chemical analysis we’ve also got our sensory analysis,” Butt said.
The new brewmaster won’t confirm what new ideas she’s got up her sleeve, so beer lovers will just have to wait and see what’s on tap.
WATCH BELOW: Great Western Brewing Company is entering a new era, as a chemist takes over as brewmaster.