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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.

Anne Sprecher

Listening to Audiences at Museums and Breweries

Women In Beer
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By: Susan Evans McClure

What do craft brewing and history museums have in common? In my experiences working in both fields, I have learned that if you focus on your audience, whether they are beer drinkers, history lovers, or both, you can make personal connections with individuals that will stick with them forever.

I am currently the Director of Programs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and as part of my job, I direct programming related to food history at the museum. We use food, from cooking demonstrations to exhibitions to collections to brewing history, to help audiences connect personal with history. Food in museums is about seeing yourself in the story and understanding how you are making history today. But before I came to museum-land, I spent 4 years working in the craft brewing industry, in the Marketing Department of Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. I ran brewery events, onsite and offsite, and managed public relations for the brewery. Now this was 10 years ago, so times have definitely changed with that company and with the whole industry, but many of the things I learned there continue to influence the work I do now.

When the National Museum of American History decided to launch an evening program series, we started with beer history. From my time in the world of beer, I knew that beer fans were curious, interested, and wanted to learn…all things that we wanted in a museum audience. For the first event, we brought together a brewer and a historian to talk about the history of American brewing, served amazing beers, and put objects on display from the museum collections related to brewing history. It was a huge hit, and the audience started asking for more.

After learning that our audiences were interested in this topic, our curatorial and archival teams surveyed the museum’s collections and found that the museum had a robust collection of American brewing history from the late 19th and early 20th century, but very little from the post 1960s craft brewing era. Not only did we have a gap in the collections during an important time period in brewing history, we also knew that brewing history topics were connected to larger themes in American history during the second half of the 20th century. In 2016, the museum launched the American Brewing History Initiative, a three year project, generously supported by the Brewers Association, to collect, document, and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers, and the beer industry – with the goal to explore how beer and beer history connect to larger themes of American history.

In 2017, after a nation-wide search and lots of press attention, the museum hired historian Dr. Theresa McCulla to lead the research initiative. With this beer story, we realized, we were really on to something. If you start with a topic that people clearly already have an interest in, you have the ability to go beyond what they think they know and encourage them to think differently about the world around them. Imagine if every time you drink a beer, you think about how connected you are to the history of this country…to the enslaved people and women who brewed beer in the 1780s, to the German immigrants in the Midwest in the 1850s, and to today’s craft brewers. You are part of history. And your beer helps you see yourself that way. When we listened to our audiences, we were able to build something that is both popular and historically relevant. And we plan to continue the work of documenting brewing history at the National Museum of American History for years to come.

As the Director of Programs and Audience Development at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Susan leads a team responsible for inspiring national conversations on the importance of the humanities to civic life. From theater to music to food, she is responsible for public engagement around topics that help individuals see themselves in history and feel connected to their communities. Previously, Susan launched the museum’s Food History Program and managed on-site educational opportunities for visitors. Susan holds an Ed.M. in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Theater from McGill University. She is an adjunct professor in the Museum Studies department at The George Washington University and has spoken nationally and internationally on topics from food history to performance theory to museum education. Photo credit: Briget Ganske

Anne Sprecher

Pints, Parenting and Play –>Juggling. It. All.

Women In Beer
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Tami Plourde, Pearl Street Brewery

Today as I spend what is probably my umpteenth beautiful Saturday morning and afternoon holed up in my office, ignoring the perfect 80 degree day with zero humidity (a summer gift in this usually highly humid region of the Midwest), I’m reminded of the dedication it takes to do what we do. As an owner of a brewery, but more importantly a small business, I often miss those moments, those opportunities, the things I love most, to DO what I love the most… sell beer! And that’s ok. It’s not always ok. But for the most part, it’s ok. But I’m trying really hard to find some balance between business and pleasure. The great thing is… lots of the time, my time is both. Yesterday, I spent the evening in Wisconsin Dells, listening to live local music and sipping on a session IPA we brewed especially for this touristy local hot spot we were hanging out at. And they took the entire 20 BBL batch. Not bad for a day’s work… and play.

And as a mom, I don’t linger too much on the thought of whether it is appropriate that my 8 year old daughter is currently co-leading our facility tours with our Tour Guide. We have a family business, and we will always do this together. That’s another thing that really helps blur the line between how many “work hours” we’ve logged in and the “quality” time we’ve spent together as a family  🙂

When my schedule allows for it, I travel around Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Humanities Council’s Working Lives Project to talk about my experience being a woman in a male dominated field. I talk about my start in the industry 14 years ago, when I was unemployed, closing my restaurant after two years of giving it a go and going through bankruptcy. I started to help out my “boyfriend” aka. The Brewmaster go around to bars in La Crosse taking keg orders one day a week for his small nano brewery. It was great. Back then, a big week was a 10 1/2 BBL deliveries for the week. The next day, Joe would load up our blue short bus that we got practically for FREE but the only thing we could afford and he’d deliver the kegs and I’d write the invoices.  Back then, I was one of the only woman beer, liquor or wine sales working the route. So I  got a lot of attention. Was told that I was a refreshing change from those “scraggly men” who come around. I’m not aware of using my feminine wiles to sell beer, but unconsciously… maybe I did. I grew our local sales fairly quickly, and within a few years I was going out daily and we had to hire a full time delivery guy.

But even after a few years of selling beer, I couldn’t say it was my passion. I was still “helping” out. Fully planning on pursuing my plans in life. I couldn’t tell you what day that mentality changed. When I realized I WAS doing something awesome. I was pursuing my plans for my life. But it did. And after that… I was in it to win it.

The past few years have been a whirlwind. We’ve posted double digit growth every year for 18 years and the past two years we’ve posted over 25% growth and are on pace to hit 40% growth for this year. All this talk of growth and we’re still one of the smallest production breweries in Wisconsin.  We fund all of our own growth ourselves, so we only grow as we can afford to. Now, we’ve got to learn how to grow as we can manage to. We’ve hired 6 full-time employees in the last year and have grown our staff from 10 to 25+ including part-time beertenders. And not being one to pass up any opportunities, we opened a print and design company four years ago to cut down on our own design and print costs, and to grow a separate independent company.

All of these things are great things. My point I’m making today, as a woman and as a human being, it is a constant juggling act to figure out how to keep growing, how to keep the creativity up, how to manage the many men and women that work tirelessly alongside of us and how to keep my little family health and happy. Is it because I can’t say I can’t, that I feel the need to talk about how difficult it is to keep all this together? I don’t think so. But somehow through the culture of society, it has become a mandate that we can as women do it all. And I believe we can! But I’ve also learned it will be hard. But it is the passion and the determination that propels us into each day and into each endeavor. I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I think I’m doing alright. And I’ll admit it. I can’t juggle at all.

Cheers to the ladies that keep this industry exciting, interesting and evolving… all while being the foundation of their families!

Tami Plourde is a Minnesota native and longtime La Crosse, Wisconsin resident. She opened her first business venture, a restaurant in downtown La Crosse, in 2001, which she operated for two years. After that, she partnered with Joe Katchever to run and operate Pearl Street Brewery. She is currently a partner and the Director of Marketing and Sales for Pearl Street Brewery. And in her time in this position has helped the company grow from a small 500 BBL producing beer business to one that produced over 3500 BBL in 2015. In 2016, she helped oversee a 28% growth to get to almost 4500 BBLS and in 2017, is on pace for a 40% growth of just shy of 6500 BBLS.  She is currently overseeing an expansion project. She works with sales staff, self-distribution staff, directly with distributors, marketing staff and production staff.

Kris McDowell

Jackie Beard Scholarship Recipient

Scholarship Recipients

Barth-Haas Yakima Hops Academy Scholarship Recipient Announced

The Pink Boots Society is proud to announce that Jacqueline (Jackie) Beard of Bale Breaker Brewing is the recipient of the 2017 Barth-Haas Yakima Hop Academy scholarship.

Chosen by the PBS Scholarship Selection Committee (SSC), five very experienced women beer professionals who hold positions as brewers, educators and writers, they chose Jackie to receive this scholarship because they feel it would increase her hop knowledge, an area that in an overall impressive collection of knowledge she lacks due to being a recent transplant from the wine world. With her strong science background they feel she “is capable of soaking up every word from the class and really doing some great things with it.”

Jackie’s science background is strong indeed – a B.S. in Environmental Science and a Certificate in Winery Technology as well as positions with Cascade Analytical as a chemist and at Chateau Ste Michelle, Canoe Ridge Winery as a laboratory supervisor. She made the move to beer in October 2016 as the sensory and microbiology lead at Bale Breaker. It’s a multi-faceted role in which she coordinates beer tastings, trains the employee panel, analyzes the impact of numerous brewing process changes, completes routine microbiology and chemistry analysis, analyzes data trends and is in charge of developing a wastewater treatment plan to reduce the brewery’s water impact.

Jackie describes the curriculum of the Barth-Haas Hops Academy as “having me pretty much drooling over the “Hopsessed” hop-specific sensory training, the chemistry knowledge imparted in the “Hops” and “Hops in the Brewing Process” curricula, and the sustainability section.” She’s also looking forward to learning more about the science and business of hops to maximize their use in Bale Breaker’s beers and to apply to sensory trainings for the staff.

Barth-Haas Yakima Hops Academy is a two-day onsite course in Yakima, WA consisting of presentations by hop and brewing experts and top researchers and growers that will cover topics including new trends in hop breeding, hop chemistry, hop quality and brewing techniques as well as new hop varieties, products, usage and analytical and sensory evaluation techniques to gauge hop and beer quality. The course also includes tours of the Haas hop farm and production facility, where attendees will experience the hop fields and witness all components of hop production from whole hops to CO2 extract, as well as a guided tour of Haas Innovations Research Brewery.

In addition to attending the course, Jackie will receive a pair of pink steel-toe rubber boots when she fulfills the Pay It Forward requirement associated with the scholarship.