Monday, May 20, 2013

Chicago's Women of Craft Beer - 2013 Edition

When I first started homebrewing beer it was for the pure curiosity of the craft. The joy that came from creating something that had such a social and collaborative power to connect people is what turned my hobby into a passion.

After seeing the documentary “The Love of Beer” which follows the rise of women in the beer industry I was inspired to learn that historically in almost every culture, women were the brewers. Women love beer, they just haven't been spoken to by the beer industry really ever.

"The opportunity for all beer companies, no matter how large or small they are, to market authentically, accurately and appropriately to women... is explosive. It's clear that the passion is about the beer... it's about an intelligent beverage for great people." - Ginger Johnson, Women Enjoying Beer

Realizing that a female-focused event had never taken place during Chicago Craft Beer WeekI was eager to put together a night that celebrated Chicago’s own women in the craft beer industry. I started reaching out to see who might be interested in getting involved and was completely blown away by the response. As I began to get to know these women better the thing that really stood out to me, aside from the apparent passion and drive - was the unanimous response that their favorite part about working in the craft beer industry was the camaraderie. That no matter their gender, background, brewery they work for - everyone wants everyone to succeed. This event has been yet another affirmation of that spirit. 

The past two months have been an amazing opportunity to unite a group of women, most who had never met each other, to build a stronger network AND brew an all-women collaboration beer. “99 Problems”, a Saison with ginger and chamomile, brewed together at Rock Bottom Chicago will be tapped as part of Chicago Craft Beer Week at Riverview Tavern on Thursday, May 23rd. Event Info.

Below is an introduction to many of the women involved in the event, who are helping to make the Midwest Craft Beer scene what it is. We hope to see you at Riverview Tavern to say hi and share a pint!

Ashleigh Arnold, who grew up in St. Louis (home of AB) thought of beer as colorless and flavorless, until she tried her first sip of a stout and was hooked! The complex flavors immediately appealed to her and she became a 24/7 beer lover. She’s since relocated to join Two Brother’s as Production Brewer. Ashleigh loves to brew to Indie Rock like Wilco and The Lumineers, as it keeps her grounded and focused. She notes that “Nightly cleanup is when the dance party starts”. Ashleigh is proud to promote her latest beer "SideKick" and has found with hard work and perseverance, everything falls into place. She finds dating to be the real challenge however, saying “Not too many men want a woman who has a more physical job and more beer knowledge.” 

Claudia Jendron recently made the move to Head Brewer, helping Temperance Brewing in Evanston to start up shop. Her appreciation of beer started at a very young age, watching her Granddad homebrew. She even held the coveted role of throwing the hops in the kettle. He was a stout lover, as is Claudia. Her favorite thing about brewing is finishing a long day and feeling so good about what she’s accomplished, barely feeling tired, just happy that making beer is what she’s doing for a living. Her advice to women in the industry, “Women have always played a major part in the beer making process, and you deserve to be where you are right now. From our exceptional palates to our hard work ethic, there will always be a place for women in the future.”

Hayley Shine recently relocated from Miami, FL, in the middle of winter non-the-less, to become Regional Brewer at Rock Bottom Chicago. Her love for craft began by homebrewing in college and quickly grew from there. When not brewing at Rock Bottom, or attending some of her favorite events like the Craft Beer Conference, she’s likely enjoying a hoppy session beer or flanders red. She shared some of her favorite food and beer pairings which include IPA and Chicago mix popcorn or Oktoberfest with pretzels and mustard. 
Beer Geek Alert: She loves drinking beer in the shower.

Jill Sites is Owner of Greenbush Brewing and damn proud to be part of the Michigan craft beer scene (not to mention they’re rocking Chicago!). Jill’s been a craft beer lover since college. When the kids were drinking High Life, she was sipping a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, all the wiser. After a visit to Goose Island in Chicago, she was hooked. Her advice to women competing in a male-driven field, “Don’t let anything stand in your way. If this is what you want to do, be it brewing or anything else, do it. Make yourself indispensable. Don’t let them be able to do it without you. And when other men who haven’t figured out your worth but happen to be in the same field doubt you, just remember to dance circles around them.” Jill is also a firm believer that beer should be brewed to funk music, although almost all of their beer is brewed to metal. Either way, rock on Greenbush!

Carly Katz, Owner of Bottles & Cans in North Center was introduced to craft beer through her husband Joe, and the love continues to grow. Her go-to beer is Revolution’s Anti Hero IPA, however her biggest challenge right now has been being pregnant while opening and operating a beer store. Her favorite beer event is Durty Nellie’s Beer Fest, which she says is small but always a blast. Carly’s advice to women in beer, “Don’t ever feel like you don’t belong in that conversation. You are as knowledgeable and prettier!” 
Beer Geek Alert: Carly’s dream is to have two bulldogs and name them Porter and Stout. 

Did you know that 5 Rabbit's beer, "5 Lizard" is named after Chicago Tavern Historian Liz Garibay? Her website Tales, Taverns & Towns researches, reviews and documents history of Chicago taverns and beyond. She also provides historic consult in naming beer, which is how she met Randy Mosher. The biggest hurdle she's overcome is that the field of tavern history is pretty much non-existant. "I had to create the field on my own, in a way. Getting people to understand it's a true area of research and learning has been a bit difficult. You can lear a lot about history through bars and beer," says Liz. She's likely to be found drinking some of her local favorites like Half Acre Daisy Cutter, Lagunitas IPA, and of course 5 Lizard, which she says pairs wonderfully with steak or fish tacos.

Avid homebrewer and beer blogger for Girls Like Beer Too, Jessica Murphy first discovered craft beer through her husband Christopher and it continued to grow as she’s traveled. “That’s what’s great about beer,” Jess says, “there can be a brewery anywhere so it’s an awesome opportunity to get a taste of the local flavor.” Jessica’s favorite festival is Dark Lord Day. This year marked her 6th, in which she attended pregnant. What a sport! She misses having a beer at the end of a long day, but says she’s overcome it by really concentrating on aroma and appreciating how much it impacts the entire beer experience. “It does get a little awkward when I walk up and start smelling people’s beer, though.” We’ve got your back Jess, smell away!

Lorna Juett, fearless leader of the Chicago Barley’s Angels (a women only beer enthusiast club), regular contributor of the Chicagoist and Sales Rep for Windy City Distribution is fully immersed in the Chicago craft beer scene. As both a lover of beer and a natural educator she’s most comfortable behind the counter, pouring beer and turning people onto styles they are trying for the first time. Some of her favorites are IPAs and most recently sours and wild beers, especially with the weather warming up. Lorna says, “The wonderful thing about beer is that there is truly a style for every occasion, and there is no style I am adverse to and no beer I am not willing to try.” 
Beer Geek Alert: Lorna went to high school in Michigan with Larry Bell’s daugther. Ask her about the story!

It’s no secret that the President of Metropolitan Brewing’s, Tracy Hurst, is a fan of lagers. She finds them to exemplify the skill and expression of the brewer, sharing that “a well-made lager can stop me in my tracks.” Flywheel Bright Lager can always be found in her refrigerator, but has also been enjoying the new SideKick Pale Ale from Two Brothers. Her favorite festival is the Great Taste of the Midwest, put on by the Madison Homebrewers and Taster’s Guild. The event has become an annual retreat for the Midwest industry and is run and attended by people who truly love and appreciate craft beer, setting a standard in hospitality and honest celebration. Tracy’s words of wisdom to anyone in the beer industry, “Take good care of yourself. You’ll perform best at work – whether you’re brewing beer, out in the market selling beer, or involved in brewery operations – if you’re healthy and sharp.”

Two Brothers Brewer, Maryhelen Harper’s appreciation for craft beer grew while working at Oades Big Ten in Lansing, Michigan. Oades boasts a rotating selection of over 600 different beers available in single bottle, 4-pack, 6-pack or case. She graduated from Michigan State, but her Dad likes to joke that she attended Beer College. Right now she can’t get enough of Two Brothers new SideKick Extra Pale Ale and also shared that her favorite beer to cook with is Bell’s Two Hearted. Ask her about the fantastic asparagus recipe she uses it in! When not brewing and cooking, she loves attending beer festivals like Michigan Winter Beer Festival and Great Taste of the Midwest.

Ashley Hunsader, Control Lab Assistant at Two Brothers, graduated with a chemistry degree from Valparaiso University knowing that she wanted to work on something she personally enjoyed consuming. Having an appreciation for craft beer and the creativity that goes into recipe development led her to a career in the brewing industry. “Working at Two Brothers has given me the opportunity to experience a larger range of craft beer and continue working with a product I love,” says Ashley. She’s a big fan of sours and stouts, but always has Two Brothers beer in her fridge.

Shawna Carter, Sales Rep at Flossmoor Station love for beer crosses international borders, as she drank her first Guinness in Ireland and also attended Oktoberfest in Munich. She also enjoys Pale Ales and always has Three Floyd’s Gumball Head stocked in her fridge. She has found as a newcomer to the industry that hard work and persistence definitely pays off, sharing how much she enjoys meeting industry people. “ Any beer event you go to, someone always has a beer you’ve never tried and are always willing to pour you a taste of it.” Beer Geek Alert: Ask her about the chicken head mask she wears to Dark Lord Day.

Two Brothers Retail Manager Amanda Wells discovered a small brewery in Indiana, Back Road Brewery and upon drinking their Blueberry Amber was hooked on craft beer. Losing her job during the recession ended up being a blessing in disguise for Amanda because she started homebrewing, which led her to pursue a career in the craft beer industry. She’s a big fan of the Craft Brew Festival in Winter Park and always has something from Colorado stocking her refrigerator. Her favorite food and beer pairing are omelets with a blood orange Hefeweizen. 
Beer Geek Alert: She has a black Golden Doodle named Stout.