WOMEN IN THE CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY.
As a woman in the still very male dominated beer industry, I have been seeking out and have found some incredible female role models here in BC (and also in Canada and the US). I will be sharing an interview that I have had with one of these remarkable women. Hopefully they will inspire you too!
THE LADIES OF TOWNSITE BREWING – POWELL RIVER, BC ( Interviewed in 2014- NOTE< Karen Shadsheim has now moved on but still loves her craft beers!)
I am in total admiration of Townsite brewery and its present success. The brewery is not even two years old, and has already received several beer awards both years for their fine brews!
What is extra special to me is that I “watched” this brewery evolve through the friendship I developed with the head lady behind it all: Karen Shadsheim.
I met her through a mutual friend in 2008 or 2009 while having a pint of cask ale at The Whip in Vancouver. At the time Karen was bartending at a local watering hole in Powell River but was looking for better quality beer in her new home. We would get together once or twice a year over a drink, when she was visiting Vancouver and she would update me on her “dream”. I was thrilled and envious at the same time. I knew this was a dream that was going to happen. Karen was determined and passionate. I then got to briefly meet Chloe and her husband Cedric when they were passing through Vancouver on their way up to Powell River buying themselves as much Belgian beer as they could get in their car!
Townsite has a total of 7 staff, with four of them women!!! So exciting, and I am very pleased to introduce you to these dynamic ladies.
NAME: KAREN SKADSHEIM – Instigator and Cheif Paper Pusher
NAME: CHLOE SMITH– Brewery Manager
NAME: EMILY WALZ– Officially-Our Lady of the Taps. Unofficially; Jacqueline of All Trades
NAME: MiICHELLE ZUTZ – Director of Sales/ Purveyor of kegs
1) HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE POSITION?
K-Feels like forever (Since before day One!
C- Since June 2012, right after the brewery opened
M- Officially since January 2012, unofficially since Bad Karen’s idea started years before.
2) WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE INDUSTRY?
K- The need for delicious beer!
C- I studied Chemistry at University and was looking for a job that would allow me to travel and was based in science but didn’t involve becoming a lab rat.
E- I was asked by the owners to join the team and work the Tasting Room
M- A brilliant idea of creating a uniquely local product that can showcase our town and talent, an amazing location in Powell River where the beer can truly reflect our lifestyle, and a partner who believed what I could bring to the team.
3) DO YOU FEEL RESPECTED IN YOUR ROLE?
C- Mostly although my two year old laughs when she sees me in boots…I haven’t yet decided if it is at me or with me
E-I do! By people in the industry for sure, not always by the customers, although most of them are always happy to see me
M- Absolutely, but I have never been one to believe the naysayers in any industry. Respect is always earned, so always respect yourself first!
4 WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS SPECIFIC CHOICE? DID YOU CHOOSE? OR DID THE JOB?
K- This was the hole that I fit in the brewery!
C- This position was created out of a need that the brewery had although when I look back at my 10 years in breweries I was always heading towards management
E- The job called out for me. I love how many different aspects to the work there is, and how I can jump from one task to the other easily, from charming and selling to customers to slogging kegs on deliveries and bottles on the bottling line.
M- I was the person who matched the job we believed we needed – before really knowing what we needed!
5) WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE?
K-IMMEDIATELY BEFORE, I SPENT A YEAR TRAVELING IN EUROPE BUT BEFORE THAT, I WAS AN ADMINISTRATOR IN THE PULP & PAPER INDUSTRY.
C- I’ve been brewing professionally since 2003
E- I was transitioning out of carpentry to find something that more suited my needs in work and lifestyle.
M- Wrangling my three children for the past 12 years, and in my past life – on the International road with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.
6 WHAT MADE YOU GET INTO THE BREWERY BUSINESS?
K-THE NEED FOR DELICIOUS BEER
C- I spent a couple of years in Europe where, the beer is really good, I came home wanting to find out more about how beer is made.
E- Being asked enthusiastically to work at the brewery.
M- Happenstance, hard work and an idea that stuck. Luck doesn’t happen – it is when hard work and passion meets opportunity.
7) IT SEEMS THAT PEOPLE THAT GET INTO THE MICROBREWERY BUSINESS HAVE PASSION-HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR BEER?
K- ONCE UPON A TIME, I DATED AN ENGLISHMAN WHO INTRODUCED ME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF PROPER ALES. NOT TOO LONG AFTER THAT, THE CRAFT BEER REVOLUTION CAME TO THE WEST COAST AND I HAVEN’T LOOKED BACK.
C- I got the brewing bug when I read a classified ad in an Edinburgh newspaper for a ‘brewing scientist’. I didn’t realize how much I would love it until I actually started learning about it, but right from day one I was hooked.
E- From working with it, and discovering that it is a beautiful blend of science, art and taste. All of which I respect and enjoy having in my life.
M- Over a lot of spilled red wine….
8) ARE THERE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY?
K-YES – Plenty of bearded men
C- I think sometimes just being a bit different from the norm can be helpful. I’m convinced I got my first job because my CV was just that little bit different from the other 50 sitting on the boss’ desk.
E- Maybe? A pretty smile doesn’t hurt sales I guess.
M- Well…being a woman in any industry is an advantage.
9) ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY?
K-YES – Plenty of bearded men!
C- Not really, I have definitely experienced some pretty intense sexism in the past but there are bullies everywhere and I never saw that as a reflection on our industry.
E- Maybe? Although I hold my own pretty well. I haven’t run into any issues being a woman and working with beer.
M- No Way!
10) WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB AND THE INDUSTRY?
K-Plentiful and delicious beer
C- Honestly? Everything. Every single thing about working in a brewery makes me happy.
E- The art of it, the tastes, the community; the Brethren of Craft Beer.
M- I love the “brotherhood” of the Industry, how folks in Craft Beer tend to work together to make a difference, as opposed to against each other. Working with our “Perfect Storm” of a team at Townsite Brewing, laughing about delivering beer from the Mom-van, the people that squint their noses up at a hoppy IPA, the French radio station Cedric keeps on at the brewery, driving down the Coast with Uli on marathon delivery days and being so exhausted we laugh at everything, even the ferry…and the list goes on and on and on…. and did I mention early tastings from the fermenter?
11) HOW WERE YOU TRAINED?
K-On the job
C- American Brewers Guild class of 2003
E- On the job. Had many skills that were easily transferable.
M- On the road with RBA! Sales are in your blood, and when you have it along with a brand you relate to and can be passionate about – it just happens!
12) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER OF THE BREWERY AND WHY?
K-CEDRIC’S AMAZING WINTER BEER – BIERE D’HIVER
C- Suncoast Pale Ale. It’s just so drinkable!
E- Biere d’Hiver, because of its light sweet richness, I really enjoy the sweet spice and deep malt notes, it feels like an experience to drink it, a special treat.
M- Well, I always have said that working with Cedric is what I think the Masonic Lodge is about…every time he brews a new style or a twist to an old one, FORGET what you knew and KNOW that this is it! But other than that…Shiny Penny, Belgian IPA. It doesn’t take a true Belgian to brew amazing Belgian Beers…but it helps!
13) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER OUTSIDE OF YOUR BREWERY AND WHY?
K-THERE’S AN OUTSIDE TO THE BREWERY??
C- Wildfire Black IPA from Cannery is pretty delish.
E- I must be honest, I don’t drink many other beers… but I really liked Parallel 49’s Salty Scott, because of the contrast of flavours, caramel and salt, two of my favourtie things!
M- An IPA from a fellow brewery with a sexy redhead on the label…and not just because of the sexy redhead on the label!
14) FAVOURITE FEMALE IN THE INDUSTRY?
K-IT’S A TIE: MICHELLE, CHLOE & EMILY
C- Charlotte Goin who I worked with in Montreal, she has since moved back to France and opened her own brewery (les Bieres de Charlotte). We were a great team, I loved working with her
E- Katy Wright from Newlands, she’s one rad babe who talks the talk and walks the walk. She’s also the only other woman I know in the industry who I don’t work for! 😉
M- Ms. Chloe Smith – she has taught me so much about the industry, the beer, and she knows how to work hard (and play hard!) while getting the job done!
15) BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
K-STAVING OFF INSANITY
C- Realizing the dream of opening a brewery with my uber brewer husband Cedric Dauchot.
E- Transitioning from working in the front, to working in the back, with the beer, building it and the team at Townsite.
M- Being able to create some magic in Powell River, a town that was known for its love of domestic beer. Having tap or bottle in nearly every licensed venue here! Hometown pride played a big role in this – folks wanted to be able to support a local business that does so much for the community, I was just able to help them find the one (or 6!!) they loved.
An Interview with Rebecca Kneen, Crannog Ales in Sorrento, BC 2013
(Originally published in Edition One of BC Craft Beer News.http://bccbnews.ca/ )
NAME: Rebecca Kneen
POSITION AT BREWERY?
Crannog Ales-As part of a team, (with Brian and Greg), I assist in the brewing, making the casks, and the recipe development in the beers. I do alot of the farming (started growing hops for the beer-one of Canada’s commercial hop yards in Canada), the social media and all the brewery administration that is required for the brewery business.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE POSITION?
Brian and I bought the 10-acreage land in March of 1999,which started as an organic farm and opened the brewery in Jan 2000, so it has been almost 14 years.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE ?
I got into the farming bug at the age of 3 while living in Nova Scotia, although I was not very much help in those days. Organic farming and the interest in fermentation have always a part of my life. These continued to evolve from my times as events and administrator at Vancouver’s Farm Folk/City Folk-, a non-profit society whose credo “ eat, (and drink) local.
WHAT MADE YOU GET INTO THE BREWERY BUSINESS?
I always loved farming, fermentation, cooking and recipe making, so it was a great way to put it all together. It also made sense to grow and use the raw materials and create a natural and organic product, making for a fully integrated business.My focus is on the farm side, and started with the growing of hops. (Crannog Ales is the first certified organic farmhouse brewery. They also grows potatoes for their Gael’s potato ale and cherries for their infamous Pooka cherry Ale)With my interest in cooking and experimenting with recipes, I was fascinated with yeast, fermenting things, and how it all came together. It’s fun to taste something and introduce flavour into your beer. It’s all magic.
ARE THERE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY?
There are several advantages from the production side to the public.On the production side: it is great to have both genders involved. Women’s senses (taste, smell) are different than men’s. Women’s senses are stronger and can pick up on the good and the bad. It is great to taste differently as this helps also with recipe development and creating more interesting flavours in the beers. Being a lover of cooking has also helped with this, playing with ingredients and knowing when to add the right amounts.
-Ergonomics and brewery design: Woman are generally better at making ergonomic decisions, what works for them will usually work for the guys, but it doesn’t work out the other way around.
-Connecting to the general public: Women connect differently, and approach a whole different sector. We also open the industry to more people (women)
-Role model change, when people see a woman working in the industry, it enforces that we are more than just T&A, especially these days.
-There is more acceptances of women in the industry over the last 14 years since I started. I am taken more seriously now.
ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY?
The Job roles of the brewing industry were designed by men for men working in the industry.Breweries has been designed by men, for men, so, there are ergonomic issues (Height issues, as an example)
All aspects of brewing, the equipment, the supplies and raw materials make for a physically demanding job.Despite the fact that the role of women in the industry is changing, we are still battling the T&A perspective that is still out there
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB AND THE INDUSTRY?
I love the smell of the brewery at different times of the day (malt, yeast etc.)
I love the practical day-to-day brewing. It’s magic, and pretty amazing about how it all works and ends up resulting in the finished product
Brewing is very creative, but also hard work, that feels good.
I really love how passionate everyone in the industry is about it.I especially love the comradely and support of the fellow brewers and people in the industry and the great community support as well
HOW WERE YOU TRAINED?
The farming came first, and figuring out how to integrate the two came next.I learned the job by research, by reading, by attending as many seminars as I could and by working with Brian on the job.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER AT THE BREWERY AND WHY?
-Gael’s Blood Ale. Nice big body, mouthfeel beer. Very drinkable-sessionable, my “go to “ beer. It has earthiness! It changes flavour with the variety of potatoes, and changes flavour during the season as the hops age. It is also is a good contrast from all the overly “hoppy” beers that breweries are producing these days.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER OUTSIDE OF YOUR BREWERY AND WHY?
-Elysian Brewing-Jasmine IPA
It takes something normal and changes it with a twist-adding the jasmine-Has great balance and subtitles of the hops and the malt and the jasmine
FAVOURITE FEMALE IN THE INDUSTRY ?
-Claire Wilson (Dogwood Brewing) : She has more “balls” than most men I know!She has as accomplished so much, in so many places.Claire is very supportive of everyone .A great role model with a great and positive attitude!