As we get to the end of our Meet the Team series, it’s time to introduce you to the woman responsible for the top class pints you’ll be smashing all summer, our Head Brewer Rita Behles! Having been responsible for all aspects of production, from the initial concept and recipe design, to reviewing trials / making tweaks, to steering the ship on the commercial-scale brew, Rita has been an absolutely integral part of the project. As much as Rita talks about this being a learning experience for herself, it’s safe to say that the rest of the team have picked up a huge amount from her as well!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your brewing journey up to this point?
My real appreciation for beer started while I was living in Chile in 2017 after just graduating from Uni. I loved all the German-inspired lagers that are very popular down there. A few months after moving back to the States I got a bartending job at a brand-new brewery called Templin Family Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. I slowly started working in the brewery helping with the canning line. I soon became a part-time assistant brewer, part time bartender. When covid hit I moved to the back full time and was a brewer there until Heriot-Watt.
What’s your role in the project?
I’m the brewer! Along with the team’s help I oversee recipe design for the beer, running all the trials and upscaling the beer for the final brew.
What are you hoping to get out of the project?
Experience! I have only worked at one brewery before now, so all my hands-on experience and knowledge is from one master brewer. It’s been such a great learning experience seeing how other breweries operate and understanding different brewhouse systems. It’s also my first time creating a recipe that I can slowly tweak within 5 trial brews. It’s been fun taking our knowledge from class and implementing it to fine-tune the trials.
What part of the project are you most excited about?
I can’t wait to taste the final batch. I have never up-scaled a beer recipe before and although I am nervous, I can’t wait to see how it goes. I’m excited for our team to hear the consumers’ responses to the beer. If the reviews are positive, there is nothing more rewarding than customers enjoying your beer.
Without giving away too many spoilers, describe the beer in three words?
Orange, forager, delectable
Hit us with an interesting fact about yourself?
I once biked from the southern end of England (Land’s End) to the northern tip of Scotland (John O’Groats).
What’s your favourite Edinburgh pub?
You will find me at the Brass more than once a week, but it’s hard to beat Diggers’ pies
Tell us about your favourite beer?
München Helles lager. If done right, it’s a refreshing lager with a light malty finish. I have not journeyed to Germany yet, but I have a sneaky feeling each German Helles I try will be my new favourite.
You’ve got three songs to add to the brewery playlist – what are you picking?
Whole New Way – Scissor Sisters
Walking on a Dream – Empire of the Sun
9 to 5 – Dolly Parton
Outside the brewery, what can people find you doing?
If I’m in the city and not studying, I am at the Brass Monkey. Otherwise I am outdoors climbing, camping, and hiking. Possibly skiing or rafting if I’m back in Utah.