Whose Brews?   Our Brews!

A place for musings, sharing stories, trying new things, and exploring the intersections of beer, social justice, and privilege.

Rachel Murray

Rachel Murray


Rachel Murray
Tap Room General Manager, Atlas Brew Works
Washington, DC

How did you get into beer?
I’ve been in DC for almost 14 years now. I came as a Georgetown undergrad. One summer after my sophomore year, the girl that was living in my house at the time had a job at the Brickskeller, which is an old beer bar where the Bier Baron is now. She told me I should come pick up some shifts, so I started waiting tables there when I was twenty and I started bartending when I turned of age. I was there for the last six years they were open.

I traveled to Germany on a high school exchange program for a summer and drank a lot of good beer out there, but I really didn’t understand what it was until I started working at the Brickskeller, and then it all started to make sense. Just one summer job got me on a career path to be running a tap room at a brewery now.

Do you remember the first beer you ever had?
My dad used to always let me sip Coors here and there. He’s from Boston so there was always Sam Adams in the fridge.

What was the first beer that turned you on to craft beer?
One of the first shift beers I ever got at the Brickskeller was the Heather Fraoch. That was one of the first good weird beers I had. Sour beers is where my true passion for beer came out. When I turned 21, the shift beer they gave me was a St. Louis vintage gueuze from 1993 - that was one of the first beer I really fell in love with.

What has your experience been like as a woman in the beer industry?
It’s definitely nice to see that there are a lot more females in the beer making process. When we were doing tastings at the Brickskeller back in the day there was pretty much only males coming out, and we would get Kim Jordon from New Belgium to come out once a year. The people that taught me about beer were actually the women that worked at the Brickskeller. It’s definitely a very white male driven world, but I’ve seen that evolve over the years I’ve been working in the scene.

How has else has misogyny shown up for you?
In the bar and restaurant scene, it can be very tricky. You’re dealing with alcohol, you’re dealing with all this other stuff, you know, all sorts of complicated things come out.

Like harassment?
Yeah. It’ll happen. It’s definitely happened. I’ve always worked with good people, smaller restaurants where people are respectful of each other, but it’s definitely an industry where shit happens. We did the Safe Bars training, which is about making your bar safer and making sure that making people aren’t being harassed.

As a white person, how do you counter the white normativity and racism within a largely white industry?
I don’t really see too much racism in the craft beer world. Other bars I’ve worked at, there have definitely been inappropriate comments people have made about the people coming in. I definitely try to have a diverse staff at Atlas and not only hire white guys. We’re in Ivy City, which is an area that’s being gentrified. Our staff is respectful of everyone who walks through the door. We do try to work with the organizations in the area, like for our charity bartending events. We could probably do more, honestly, but we try our best.

What style of beer do you think is most overrated right now?
One thing people are doing a lot of is the New England hazy IPA. They are just throwing whatever the hell they can put in there without filtering it. Some of them get a little over the top with niche stuff.

Is there a particular beer you think is overhyped?
I was working at Brickskeller before New Belgium came out here. About five times a day I’d get asked, “Do you have Fat Tire, do you have Fat Tire?” My parents were still living in Kansas City at the time, so I drove out there and brought two cases of Fat Tire for us to drink. It’s not a bad beer, but for how many times people asked me for it, it’s nothing to want to go across the country to drink.

What was the last beer you drank?
We haven’t put it out on the market yet, but we made a fest beer at Atlas. It’s coming out in a couple weeks, and that’s what I had the other day.

What’s in your fridge right now?
Some Atlas Dance of Days cans. They just came out and we already sold out of them. I just moved into a new house and the friend who owns the house left a lot of old, weird stuff. There is a Brooklyn Black Ops from 2012.

What’s your favorite local beer?
You always have to give DC Brau props. I knew those guys before they opened their brewery, and I respect everything they do. Right Proper does some fun, different stuff. The thing I like about DC is that all the breweries do something a little different. 3 Stars has some funky stuff. And the District Chophouse has good, solid beers.

You are in a mainstream grocery store and in a pinch. What beer do you get?
I’d probably go with a cider at that point. If I had to pick beer, Stella is a good solid beer. Pilsner Urquell. Budweiser, I mean, it’s consistent. It’s cheap. If I’m on a budget, I’d go with PBR.

The apocalypse happens and you can only get one beer. What would it be?
It’d be a Duchesse de Bourgogne. They had it on draft at Pizzeria Paradiso about ten years ago. When I was still in classes at Georgetown, I’d go to Pizzeria Paradiso in the afternoon before it got too busy and drink it.

That is the coolest thing. Drinking the Duchesse on draft while you are studying at Pizzeria Paradiso?
I didn’t always get too much studying done.

What are other ways you think the brewing industry could be more inclusive?
The brewing world needs to be respectful and make sure they aren’t excluding anybody because they aren’t a typical beer person. When we do have conferences and these big get-togethers, we need to make sure we have space to have these conversations. It doesn’t always come up at the conferences, and I think the brewing world could definitely create more platforms to have those conversations and have trainings about being respectful and including more people than just your typical white male bro.

Bobbi Russell

Bobbi Russell

Marz's Jungle Boogie

Marz's Jungle Boogie