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Nov
29
Anne Sprecher
My Path from Covering Tornadoes to Covering Craft Brewers
Women In Beer
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By: Jess Baker, Editor-in-Chief at CraftBeer.com

After 10 years chasing tornadoes – both in person and from the newsroom – as a TV producer and then digital/social senior editor at The Weather Channel, you reach a point where you can’t let Mother Nature call the shots anymore. Only Mother Nature knows when it’ll trigger an earthquake that sets off a nearly world-wide tsunami, or exactly when she’s going to unleash more than 300 reported tornadoes in a 3-day timespan across a 3200-mile path.

It was a job that fascinated me and humbled me. It was a job that inspired me and gave me purpose because there were truly days when you’re saving lives through information or helping families cope with a loss by telling their story. It was a job where storm victims would hug you and thank you because you were wearing the brand’s logo on your rain jacket.

But it was also a job full of the unexpected. Even when forecasts are accurate, there’s still no telling exactly what the full impacts would be and where they would the worst and how many people would have their lives turned upside down. Ten years of preparing for the unexpected can drain your energy. But what could I do that still inspired me, that gave me purpose and help people?

I remember the moment when my fascination with craft brewers and their beer started: I vividly remember walking into the 2010 East Atlanta Beer Festival in Atlanta’s tree-covered Brownwood Park and seeing rows of breweries I’d never heard of before in my life. I turned to my pal, a West Coast implant in Atlanta who already had witnessed the beginnings of the beer revolution on his coast, and said, “This is beer? I didn’t know this is what beer was now!”

When I fall for something – like the Beatles at age 16 and Springsteen when I was 28 – I fall hard. As I met brewers and realized so many of them had walked away from their big corporate jobs or found that running a brewery helped them connect with their communities, I was inspired. These women and men were small business owners who happened to be running beer businesses –and a new obsession began. I started a second Twitter account (@craftcurious) devoted to beer, not wanting to confuse all the people who followed me for weather updates on the other Twitter account. During a beercation, that Twitter account helped me get noticed by a Colorado-based craft beer blog that needed a Southeast Editor. I took the job, knowing it was unpaid, because I needed to write about these brewers who fascinated and inspired me.

I knew someday I wanted to take what I loved doing – storytelling and social media – and do it for an independent brewery. I had no idea someday would come a lot sooner than I planned. When the Brewers Association posted a job looking for an Editor-in-Chief of its beer-lover facing website CraftBeer.com, I applied thinking it was a longshot. But I got the job, and since May 2016, I’ve been working with writers and video producers across the U.S. to tell the stories about the people who are the heartbeat of American craft brewing, as well as the cities and businesses that support them.

For us at CraftBeer.com, it’s not about the beer – it’s about the people. My colleague Andy Sparhawk said it best in a recent article: “Don’t just taste your beer, believe in it.” And for us, that’s believing in the people behind it. Cheers to America’s small and independent brewers and the beer lovers who make it all possible.



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