Operations, Barreled Souls Brewing Co
How did you get into beer?
When I turned 21, there weren’t a lot of craft brews at that point. I started off with your classic Miller Lite. I started to drink Sam Adams and Magic Hat, and it was like, okay, I like this. It grew from there.
I’ve lived in Saco for 5 or 6 years now. I was going to Run of the Mill all of the time, and then Barreled Souls opened up and I was there on opening day. Just over a year later I was working for them. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be a beer professional at all. I have a background in media writing, and I was actually a banker when I was coaxed to come into beer.
Do you remember the first beer you ever had?
Other than the few sips of the Bud Heavies my dad would give me as a kid, I believe my first full beer was a Molson Canadian. That’s what my family drank at the time. I was either 19 or 20. It was my uncle’s 40th birthday and my dad all his brothers had gone out golfing. I was left at home with my aunts. We were sitting around together and they said, “You know what would be really funny? If your dad came back and you were drinking a beer.” So they gave me a Molson, and my dad came back and he saw me drinking. He looked at me and said, “It’s about damn time.”
What was the first beer that got you into craft beer?
The first beer I remember enjoying was a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. That was my gateway.
What has your experience been like as a woman in the beer industry?
It’s been a very interesting place to be. I do really appreciate the fact that there are a lot more women who are into craft beer than even a couple years ago. We do barrel-aged stouts, big dark malty beers, and I get very excited when I see women, especially my own age, come in and ask for a barrel-aged stout.
There are a lot of men, both younger and older, who don’t necessarily believe that I know what I know about beer. I’ve had a couple of bad interactions where I knew the right answer to something and I got second-guessed. Usually I’m also the bartender, and people don’t realize that I’m the one who runs the place because I’m serving their beers.
I can school most customers who come in on beer, and I know our products better than our tasting room staff. Sometimes when someone has a question about one of the beers, they wait to ask one of the guys about it. Or I’ve had someone ask me a question, get my answer, and turn around and ask the guys, who either gives the same answer I just gave or says, “I’m not sure, let me check with our tasting room manager,” and asks me for the answer.
What would it take to for the beer industry to be more inclusive?
I’m not really that sure. It’s kinda up to the women of the industry to do that. There are a lot of strong women in the industry who are pushing themselves forward. It’s like any empowerment movement, we have to take it upon ourselves to knock down all those walls and all those barriers. We need more women to gather and be involved in breweries and brewing and even drinking.
We have a handful of beers that we direct toward women who aren’t typically beer drinkers but they can enjoy. We make a beer called Rosalita, which is a low ABV blonde ale fermented with agave and hibiscus flowers, so it’s a bright fuchsia color. When someone comes in and says they aren’t really a beer drinker, that’s what we push them towards. But I want women to come in and try a stout. I think they’ve been steered away from hoppy beers or high ABV beers.
Maybe instead of pushing the Rosalita when a woman comes in and says they aren’t into beer, you’d want to push a stout?
Absolutely. I’m a big fan of asking people if they are a fan of coffee and then try to get them to try our brown ale with coffee. Sometimes people come in and see “barley wine” or “wheat wine” and want to know if those are wines, and I say, “those are beers, but since you asked about them, you might like them.” I end up with a lot of people, especially women, who say, “I’m not a big beer drinker,” and then they enjoy the big 13% barley wines because they are very sweet but not too boozy, almost like a mead.
As a white person, how do you challenge racism in the beer industry?
It’s a really difficult thing around here because there is so little diversity. I think we do a really good job at least in our tasting room, but also industry-wide in Maine, because it tends to be a younger, fairly liberal group of people. We embrace everybody who walks through our door, regardless of their race, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
What style of beer do you think is most overrated right now?
Super hazy New England IPAs. We have 22 taps, 18 of them are filled right now. We have one session IPA and one Pale Ale, and people ask if that’s all we have for hoppy beers. I have eight barrel-aged beers on tap! Everyone is doing New England IPAs – we need to expand our horizons.
Is there a particular beer you think is overhyped?
No particular beers, but the double IPAs that people wait in line for hours for. This probably all goes back to the fact that I’m not on the hop bomb train.
What was the last beer you drank?
How about the one I’m drinking currently? I know I’m knocking on the hoppy beers, and I’m drinking Vic Secret Onesie from Long Pine. In my defense, I did just put a couple bottles of our Stay Puft, an imperial stout made with marshmallows, in the fridge to drink around the fire later.
What’s in your fridge right now?
Unfortunately a lot of IPAs and pale ales. I do have some of the latest Austin Street/Hoof Hearted Yann Bandana collaboration. I’m gifted a lot of beers, so I have stuff from local breweries which tends to be more hoppy. The people that know me really well know to bring me dark beer, particularly from a barrel.
What’s your favorite local beer?
I’m a big fan of Banded Horn. I love their Greenwarden Pale Ale with spruce tips, and their Jolly Woodsman Stout. It’s a really coffee forward stout with a light mouthfeel without being to thin. I’m a big Allagash fan - their sours are right up my alley.
You're in a mainstream grocery store or a 7/11. What beer would you pick up in a pinch?
I would look for something a little lighter or fruitier that doesn’t necessarily taste like beer, like a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy.
So no Sam Adams Cherry Wheat?
I might. Over the years it’s gotten way too sweet for me.
The apocalypse happens and there is only one kind of beer left. What would would you want it to be?
It would have to be Founders KBS. I have a very large supply. It would probably last me at this point if the apocalypse happens.
Really? You stockpile it?
We have an obscene amount of KBS in our basement. We have 50 bottles just from this past year. My husband is a big fan, and he knows they come out on April 1st and takes that day off of work. He’s got a couple of honey holes that he hits, and I pick some up wherever I can. We get a pretty good drop up here. Last year I walked right into Hannaford and grabbed four four-packs, and this was like five days after it had been out. People tell me that if the world is ending they will come here, because at least there will be good beer.