Raise Your Glasses to These Lasses
In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting the women who help power Fair State. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, it’s a privilege to work, learn, and laugh alongside such smart, strong, and downright inspirational ladies.
That’s why we’re using today as an opportunity to bring visibility to the many women who dedicate their time and talents to craft brewing. Today we give thanks for these wonderful women—not that we need a special holiday for that! These gals deserve recognition for their hard work every day of the year.
Here are their thoughts on what it’s like to be badass broads in the beer biz and how they got here.
Events & Education Manager
Favorite Fair State Beer: Pils
Sarah came to Fair State via the coffee industry. “After living out-of-state for a year, I was asking around about jobs in Minneapolis upon my return,” she says. A former co-worker at Up Coffee hooked her up with Fair State through his wife, Kayla, then a manager at nearby Indeed Brewing.
“Only recently did I discover that Kayla’s connection was to two other rad ladies, Barb from NorthGate and Hilari from Dangerous Man. Both are women that I now have the pleasure of working alongside as colleagues in the NE beer world. These three women were in the process of forming what would later become NEBDA, the Northeast Brewer’s and Distiller’s Association. These rock star ladies saw a need to connect leaders in this growing industry and made it happen. This is one example of how the women in craft brewing have been quick to build one another up. These women are all backbones for their respective breweries and spend much of their creative energy making this industry a productive and cooperative place. Craft beer (and my career) would not be what it is without these women.” Sarah, in turn, now pays it forward as an exemplary role model and advocate for other women getting their start in the brewing world.
Favorite Fair State beer: Raspberry Roselle
Though Jill came to us with nearly 25 years of bartending experience under her belt, her path to Fair State was anything but direct. When she started working again after taking time out to raise her two children, she says, “I had a hard time finding a job. All the bartenders, especially in Northeast, were either young females under 30 in tight T-shirts, or men. As a mother, I had to start all over.” Jill put in long hours at physically demanding catering jobs for a few years before she joined Fair State’s team. Now, says Jill, “I pour beer and I talk to people.” Lucky for us! Jill puts customers and co-workers at ease with her gift for conversation. In addition to being a mainstay of Jill’s own neighborhood, she values the flexible atmosphere fostered by Fair State’s founders. “They try to work out everything for everybody,” she says,
Assistant Taproom Manager
Favorite Fair State Beer: Vienna Lager (the beer that got me hired at Fair State)
“I got involved with Fair State because of Sarah,” Donelle says, “because she told Matt and Charlie that I was awesome and they should hire me.” It’s true—she is awesome, and she’s been a model of tireless efficiency in our taproom for more than a year now. She’s also a constant support for others, making sure her co-workers know they’re not taken for granted. “I’m lucky to work where I work and am super grateful to be working with this team, and I’m also super grateful to have met all of the awesome people in this industry.”
Favorite Fair State Beer: U-PICK
It was the cooperative model that initially drew Alena to Fair State. Now, it’s the strong community of engaging and conscientious people that keep her passionate. “I’ve met all these impressive and magnanimous people who are eager to teach, share, and use their networks to connect and uplift others.” She’s proud to be part of a brewery that builds social capital and connects her with women mentors within the industry.
“I’ve been lucky enough to jump into a community that values me and makes me feel respected. However, I know that’s not true for everyone everywhere, and I’m often reminded of the work-in-progress we’re witnessing,” she says. “Since the demographics of craft beer drinkers (and brewers) are changing at a rapid clip, I’m hopeful that we’ll get to witness our community grow to include and be enriched by people from every background.”
Brewery Assistant, Jack-of-All-Trades
Favorite Fair State Beer: Like ever? Wild rover. But Vienna is my go to.
When she was in school, Rose figured she’d get some boring QA/QC job with her microbiology degree. “Boy, was I wrong!” she says. Fully aware of the gender skew within the industry, Rose says, “When I first started at Fair State, I was concerned about seeming too feminine. Like, if I was going to make a bunch of mistakes, better to seem like I don’t care about dumb “girly” stuff, right?
“But now that I’ve been here awhile, I know none of the FS staff could care one way or the other. They’re all evolved and don’t give a damn what’s on their keg washer’s eyelids- so long as they’re wearing goggles when handling caustic.”
“I think beer people care about quality product more than any BS gender norms,” says Rose. “Industry people are always super respectful. That said, I think there is a stereotype that if a woman is in beer, she’s front of house,” says Rose. And, she adds, “I think it’s worth noting that there are hardly any women of color in beer.”
As for the stereotype that women don’t drink beer? “I think it’s because beer bros want a “no girls allowed” sign on the treehouse fort of craft beer. Case in point: men on the Beer People Facebook page always painting their wives as no-fun killjoys who can’t appreciate their beer habit. Like, she’s probably just pissed you blew the weekly grocery budget on Hexit. And she’s probably the one who had to make the budget in the first place, so…”
For more straight talk on beer bros and more, you can catch Rose doing acid titrations or keeping our kegs in top condition.
Favorite Fair State Beer: Pils
Katie kicked off her beer career in Austin, Texas, taking on roles in just about every aspect of brewing. She’s been a brewing assistant and a cellarperson, bartending and doing draft stuff all the while. Before coming to Fair State, she says, “I helped a buddy open his own small brewery,” in Montana.
Now, Katie uses her experience and expertise to make the magic happen in Fair State’s brewhouse. When it comes to gender issues in brewing, she says, “It’s sort of a mixed bag.” Questions of sexism and empowerment, she points out, deserve more space than a blog post can offer. “I don’t feel like I could distill it,” says Katie of its complexities. That’s a sentiment that resonates with many in the brewing industry, and it’s a discussion that demands ongoing, concerted attention.
Because a woman’s place is in the brewhouse—or in the microbiology lab, or behind the bar, or in the office, or having a pint in the taproom, or wherever else she damn well pleases. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone.