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About us

The Brewer DNA Project, a Y-chromosome DNA Project, was initiated in 2004 by Grant Johnston, who was the Project’s first Administrator.  Richard Brewer became involved soon after and served as Administrator until early 2016 when administration was handed over to the current Administrator, Hank Graham.  Over the history of the Brewer Project the Administrators have been assisted by expert genealogist Co-Administrators who have specialized knowledge of one or more of the Brewer/Brower families.  Special recognition goes to Chris Chester for his decade long participation in the Project and freely shared expertise with the Adam Brouwer, Jan Brouwer and Hubert Brower families. 

Since inception Y-DNA tests, offered by FTDNA, have grown from a single 12 Short Tandem Repeat (STR) marker test to STR tests of 37, 67and 111 markers. In late 2013 FTDNA introduced the Big-Y test, a Y-SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) discovery test that covers about three-quarters of all known SNPs and about 500 STR markers. Since 2004 membership in the Project has steadily grown to over 300 members in September 2017. The past eighteen months(mid-2016 to December 2017) has seen an increase in the rate of new members joining.

Members of the Project are placed in one of (currently) 20 Sub-groups. Sub-groups are identified by a combination of Y-DNA STR marker test result matches that help genetically identify common paternal lineages, AND traditional genealogical research that can identify common ancestors by name. Sub-groups are typically created when the Project has two or more members who satisfy these criteria. The later stipulation requires the important component of the sharing of paternal lineage information. Y-DNA testing works best when paired with traditional genealogical research. The Sub-groups can be seen on the DNA Results page of this website (Y-DNA Classic or Colorized Charts). Here you will see that most of the Sub-groups have been given the name of the Earliest Common Ancestor (EKA). The Project’s Sub-groups are distinct BREWER/BROWER families whose common ancestor lived sometime within the most recent fifteen generations. At least 13 of the Sub-groups identify a common North American ancestor who lived during the colonial period or in the early years of the United States. Members for whom no matches, with the BREWER, etc. surname are found, are left as Ungrouped, with the hope that eventually a match will be tested. As of late 2017 FTDNA has tested around one million customers.  As interest in DNA testing and genetic genealogy is on the rise, the Brewer DNA Project should see continued growth in membership.

The most successful application of our members Y-DNA tests has been in identifying these Sub-groups. Sharing a common surname does not necessarily imply that a common ancestor is shared. This is evident by our identification of 20 Sub-groups within the Project.  Y-DNA testing is used to verify a member’s traditional genealogical research, or in cases, in which traditional research has been difficult, identify a Brewer/Brower family in which the member belongs. New potential exits for finding matches for our Ungrouped members, and for adding to our current Sub-groups, with every new member who joins and orders a Y-DNA test kit. Hopefully, as more BREWERS, etc. from outside of North America join, pre-immigration connections can be made between our North American Brewers and our Brewers from the “Old World.”

Through the later 2000s and into the early 20teens, FTDNA increased the number of STR markers available for testing, offering 67 marker and then 111 marker tests.  In late 2013 the Big-Y test was offered. The Big-Y is a SNP test. It tests more than three quarters of known SNPs. In addition it tests around 500 STR markers including most, but not all of those covered by the 111 marker Y-DNA test.  FTDNA does not yet provide detailed analysis of the Big-Y test results (it does provide some and lists matches with others). The Brewer DNA Project relies on further analysis of Big-Y test results conducted by an outside company, YFull. The Project asks all members who do take a Big-Y test to follow up with the further analysis at YFull.

The additional levels of STR marker testing, the advent of the Big-Y test, the continued addition of new members, more tests, and more data, along with the advancement in analysis that comes with the additional data, has enabled the Brewer DNA Project to reassess and refine conclusions made during the earlier years of the Project’s existence. The Big-Y test in particular has added a new level of understanding and is causing us to come up with new ideas of how the members of each Sub-group are related to the others within the same Sub-group. New members and tests can help us identify new Sub-groups. More members from Europe and elsewhere may help us connect North American families to their “Old World” origins. The key for success in the Project is volume.  More members and more tests are needed.  Each new member brings the potential for a new breakthrough.  Please consider joining, and please do not hesitate in contacting the Administrator with your questions. 

November 28, 2017