These women are crushing the craft beer scene

Think beer is strictly a boys’ game? Think again. Contributor Emily Hutto sat down with some of the industry’s foremost professionals to learn a bit about their paths to success.

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In 1994, Julia Herz won a membership to the American Homebrewers Association that included a subscription to Zymurgy Magazine. She had recently quit her day job at the CNN Washington, D.C., Bureau and driven her Gypsy Jetta cross-country to Boulder. 

“Winning that membership from Charlie Papazian, him handing it to me and me shaking his hand, it put me on a path,” Herz said. “I was then convinced I was meant to work at the Association.” 

Herz is now the Craft Beer Program Director at the Brewers Association, as well as the author of Beer Pairing: The Essential Guide from the Pairing Pros (Voyageur Press). She’s a modern-day herald for the craft beer industry, and arguably its most motivational speaker. 

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In 1999, Lauren Woods Salazar told her boss at New Belgium Brewing that she didn’t think leaving a pitcher of beer on the bar next to a notepad for hours was the most effective way to execute a “taste panel,” as it was called back then. 

With the brewery’s support, she studied at UC Davis and received a certificate in sensory science and consumer testing. She then attended brewing school and went on to develop one of the best, if not the best, sensory evaluation programs in the country.    

Salazar is now the Wood Cellar Director and Blender at New Belgium. She’s one of the only professional beer blenders on this planet, and we have her to thank for a great deal of high-quality beer produced at craft breweries across the country. And let’s not forget her contributions to the American wood-aged and sour beer categories — both in method and philosophy.  

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In 2000, Laura Lodge’s brother, Bill, transitioned his fledgling brewing company, High Point Brewing Corp., into a distribution company, and moved it from Denver up to the Vail Valley. There, Lodge discovered the world of craft beer (then “microbreweries and specialty beers”).  

“Over time, I ended up handling the accounting, doing order entry, truck and invoice routing, loading trucks, delivering shorter routes or helping with big days, assisting with management, working with suppliers, or brewers … and coordinating a trade show for his portfolio of suppliers that turned out to be the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival,” she said. 

Seventeen years strong, Big Beers is now one of the country’s most coveted beer events, and an industry leader in beer and food pairing education. 

Lodge’s distribution experience also led to her authorship of the book Distribution Insight for the Craft Brewer, and speaking slots at conferences, such as the Rocky Mountain Microbrew Symposium, the Craft Brewers Conference, the Craft Beverage Expo, and the New England Craft Brew Summit. Over time, she has also assisted with the Paired event at the Great American Beer Festival and various gatherings at SAVOR. She has been the collaborative author of the Brewers Association’s Beer Server Training for Brewpubs manual, is a preferred service provider for The Craft Beer Attorney and is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. 

Lodge is now working with marketing and food and beverage teams at destination resorts, educating staff, executing events such as the “Gateway to Craft Beer” at Gateway Canyons Resort and consulting on everything from beer and food pairing to distribution for craft breweries through her company, Customized Craft Beer Programs.

Herz, Salazar and Lodge have all reminded me at one point or another that if I’m looking for women in the beer industry, I’m sure to find them. They’re everywhere. They’re authoring books, hydrating foeders and teaching servers the differences between stouts and porters. They’re running tasting rooms and coordinating incredible women’s groups like Ales 4 Females (props to Morgan Zamora at Left Hand Brewing Co.). They’re brewing politically significant beers and meeting the president of the United States (hey Bess Dougherty at The Grateful Gnome), and they’re practicing time-honored techniques while laboring over 30-hour brews (shout-out to Ashleigh Carter at Bierstadt Lagerhaus). They’re participating in every aspect of the craft beer industry, from grain to glass and beyond.

-Emily Hutto is a Colorado-based journalist and marketing professional who has spent many of her days picking the brains of the country’s best brewers. She founded RadCraft in 2012 to support the communications needs of craft breweries.

 

Ethel Cinnamon, inset, is holding a photo of herself, her four sisters and a cousin circa 1942 near Jamestown. In the larger image, she is bottom right with her sister’s legs draped over her shoulder. Cinnamon said she wasn’t sure if her dad brewed the beer they were drinking but he definitely distilled whiskey back in the day.

Ethel Cinnamon, inset, is holding a photo of herself, her four sisters and a cousin circa 1942 near Jamestown. In the larger image, she is bottom right with her sister’s legs draped over her shoulder. Cinnamon said she wasn’t sure if her dad brewed the beer they were drinking but he definitely distilled whiskey back in the day.

No surprise – Women always part of sudsy history

Colorado has a rich history of homegrown beer and both sexes enjoyed it. From Rocky Mountain Brewery, Zang’s, Tivoli and Coors to smaller unnamed breweries that sprang up from necessity, often among mining camps, the territory has been brewery rich. 

Take Caribou Ranch for example. Long before Amy Grant or Dan Fogelberg showed up to make music with hopes of recording gold, silver or platinum records, gold and silver miners were settling the area about 60 miles northwest of Denver. In 1875, upwards of 3,000 people lived in the remote mountain town. And yes, there was a brewery and three saloons, Boulder newspapers reported. 

As the population of the territory, soon to become a state, began to grow with fortune seekers, so did the brewery scene. Roughly 100,000 people called the area home in 1875. To accommodate all these thirsty people, the territory had 56 breweries, about one for every 2,000 people. One year later, the territory became the 38th state.

Of course, men weren’t the only folks drinking beer. According to local legend, the Unsinkable Molly (actually named Margaret) Brown was known to tip a few brews with friends at her Leadville home. The Titanic survivor and her husband acquired riches after he figured out how to mine gold from old silver mines around Leadville.

And as the above photo demonstrates, these Lyons-area women were not averse to throwing back a cold one back in the early 1940s.