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Kris McDowell
Beer, Brats and Beyond Tour Scholarship Recipients Announced
Scholarship Recipients
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The Pink Boots Society is excited to announce and introduce the seven ladies that have been selected by the PBS Scholarship Selection Committee (SSC) to receive a travel scholarship for the Beer, Brats and Beyond Cultural Exchange to Germany October 13-22, 2017.

Hailing from the United States, Canada, Peru and Australia, these seven women run the gamut from new to the industry to those having worked their way up and have opened their own breweries. Megan Garrity, Lauren Lerch, Annabel Meagher, Katie Smith, Bridgette Turner, Kate Streblenko and Tracy Vornbrock will be joining other Pink Boots members for this nine-day insider’s tour of the Bavarian brewing industry that aims to foster relationships between North American and Bavarian breweries with sessions, tastings and tours with women brewers.

Megan Garrity, the first of the three international members on the trip, is the owner/brewer of Greenga Brewing in Lima, Peru. There she handles not only recipe development, brewing and packaging but also does sales, distribution and social media for the brewery. Her location limits her resources, including access to Noble hop varieties like she’ll get to experience on the tour. She says, “Being able to not only visit the farm but also learn more about the traditions and characteristics will help me broaden the styles of beer I’m brewing.” Always looking to improve her knowledge and skills, she’s eager expand her network and to learn from the brewers she’ll meet on the tour, including seeing how the the open fermentation process that Sigi Friedmann utilizes in real life instead of just reading about it.

A brewer’s assistant at Red Rock Brewing in Utah, Lauren Lerch began as a beer store attendant in what she describes as a “casual job” and has worked her way up. During that time she says “I have become the first female Certified Cicerone® in Utah, a Certified Judge though the Beer Judge Certification Program and have judged at the North American Beer Awards.” In addition to brewing duties, she uses her certifications to educate the serving staff, creates beer descriptions for their menus, writes for Red Rock’s bi-weekly blog and assembles beer pairings. Currently enrolled at the University of Utah and pursuing a bachelor’s degree she would like to study brewing abroad and she says, “going on this immersion tour would prove invaluable when making a major life decision like studying abroad.”

Annabel Meagher, an international member hailing from Australia, is the co-owner and brewer of Himmel Hund in Melbourne. The brewery specializes in making German-style beers and the name is a partial homage to the high school exchange trip she took to Bavaria where she had her first taste of wheat beer, falling quite in love with it. About this trip she says, “I will no doubt learn so much about the Reinheitsgebot method of brewing and the best way to use my favourite ingredient (wheat). I have attempted to grow German style hops on a farm outside of Melbourne without great success so far and visiting the hop farms in Germany would no doubt give me some wonderful ideas on how to grow my own back home.”

Starting her craft brewing career with Twin Leaf Brewery as an assistant brewer/bartender, North Carolina-based Katie Smith has moved up into the role of brewer with Highland Brewing Company. She says, “Ever since starting my career, the brewery has always captivated me,” however, “With the fluctuating hours of my full time position at Highland Brewing it has been very difficult for me to be enrolled in a degree-seeking program where I could continue to grow and learn. This short immersion tour would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn so much in a brief period of time.” An active member of the Asheville, NC Pink Boots chapter she is looking forward to sharing her experience with other members once she returns.

The sole member of the group who works on the lab side of brewing operations at Jack’s Abby, Kate Streblenko has brought her degree in biochemistry and past experience as a lab tech for UMass Medical School to the world of craft beer. As the Quality Manager at this German-style, lager only brewery, she says “it’s my responsibility to ensure that these beers aren’t just tasty, but that they are true to style and feature many of the same characteristics as a true German lager.” In brewing some of their traditional styles they use decoction, a process that is not common among Massachusetts breweries. For Kate, “this makes troubleshooting issues and comparing notes with other brewers difficult” so during this trip she is looking forward to gaining an “understanding the traditional methods that helped shape these styles that can really help me have a better understanding of our own brewing techniques and results.”

A craft beer bar in Virginia was where Bridgette Turner started down her craft brewing path. Six years and hundreds of beers later she knew she wanted to become a more knowledgeable bartender. She says, “After some soul searching, I made the decision to attend brew school at Brewlab Ltd in Sunderland, England.” The 12-week course taught her traditional brewing processes and lab skills, gave her the opportunity to write and brew her own recipes and volunteer at eight British breweries. Bridgette returned to a cellar person position she had arranged in advance, eventually moving on and up to a brewer position, before taking her current position as the lead brewer with Solace Brewing Company. She’s thrilled with her new role but says, “Yet again, I always find myself thirsting for more. More knowledge, more beer, and more travel. The scholarship opportunity in Germany provides all those things.”

The third international member, Canadian Tracy Vornbrock entered into the brewing industry just a year ago. She embarked on a Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program and is currently at Tool Shed Brewery full time as a summer student where she has been trained in brewing, cellaring, packaging and quality control. She says, “Besides having a passion for beer, what drew me to a career as a brewer was to be part of an industry that continually challenges the conventions of what has been done in the past. The Alberta beer industry is experiencing a massive boom in part due to the relaxation of production limits and an end to archaic liquor laws.” Once finished with school she hopes to open a 3bbl nano-brewery, applying her brewing experience as well as her experience on this trip to “be a loud voice and lead the Alberta beer scene in a new direction, one where beer and brewing come first, not one of flashy advertisements and sexist marketing.”

In addition to attending the tour, each scholarship recipient will receive a pair of pink steel-toe rubber boots upon fulfilling the Pay It Forward requirement associated with the scholarship.

The nine-day, Beer, Bratwurst and Beyond tour will make stops at small and independent breweries located in towns such as Munich, Franken, Spalt and Niederbayern. It will highlight many women owned and/or operated breweries (Sister Doris, Meinel sisters), communal brewing traditions, new school craft producers and a few abbey breweries. The tasting sessions, tours and cultural events aim to deepen and enhance the participants’ knowledge of brewing traditions and technologies as well as dispel old stereotypes. In addition to the breweries, stops will be made at German hop farms in the heart of Hallertau where participants learn about the traditions of Noble hops.

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