By Regina Heffington (aka Jax Brew Bitch) | Contributor
For the testosterone-laden members of our species, the phrase, “Women in Craft Beer,” conjures up a fantasy-based image of voluptuous bikini-clad models cavorting about within a hot tub sized beer mug filled with their favorite adult beverage. If you let them ponder long enough on the concept, they will offer up other blush-inducing innuendo using characteristics of microbrews such as … well, never mind.
It’s time to shake them up! … the men, that is. Women are making great strides in earning a respected seat at the craft beer table all over the country, including right here in Jacksonville. The emergence of the female influence in the microbrewing business has evolved significantly in recent years.
Much like the housewife of the 1950s dutifully bringing her husband a pair of slippers, smoking jacket and pipe once he finished off the evening meal she had labored over all afternoon giving way to the multifaceted career and/or family woman of today, the stereotypical idea that “beer is a man’s world” has given way to a current and increasing embrace by the craft beer community of the notion that women bring an ever-expanding level of creativity, judgment and … money … to bear in the microbrewing industry.
On the international craft beer scene, less than three years ago, Nicole Erny became the youngest person and first female to pass the two-day exam to become one of just four Master Cicerones – which are certified beer experts, much like wine sommeliers. Locally, Jessie Erickson, assistant brewer at Intuition Ale Works, became the first female brewer in the Greater Jacksonville area not long after that.
Around the same time, Meg Gill co-founded Golden Road Brewing in LA with the goal of bringing fresh beer to the market in the most sustainable way possible. Meg oversees production of their creations such as Get Up Offa That Brown Ale and Wolf Among Weeds IPA.
But LA has nothing on Jacksonville. Six years ago, Susan Miller took the plunge into craft beer with the faith, perseverance, talent and motivation to co-found Bold City Brewery with her son Brian. With their flagship beers, Duke’s Cold-Nosed Brown Ale, Killer Whale Cream Ale and Mad Manatee IPA, Bold City has established itself as a benchmark in business models for those interested in brewing beer on a commercial level. It ain’t easy, but the Miller family’s dedication to quality product, loyalty to Jacksonville and focus on their customers has paved the way for their upcoming expansion.
Women-owned, craft-beer centered businesses here in Jacksonville include Dahlia’s Pour House in Riverside, owned by Andrea Koralewski, and Rain Dogs at 5 Points, owned by Christina Wagner.
Cari Sanchez-Potter serves as general manager of Intuition Ale Works handling much of the behind-the-scenes action at Intuition Ale Works like marketing, communications, community relations and event planning.
Kara Scremin, wife of Engine 15 Brewing Company owner, Lucc Scremin, plays an integral part in pushing out information and handling social media for the company.
I am sometimes amazed that it was three years ago that I jumped into craft beer. Never a fan of the mass-produced, mass-marketed liquid, I was introduced to CRAFT beer at Bold City Brewery. Then, a visit to Kickbacks Gastropub (and a glass of some heavenly stout) motivated me to embrace a new persona, the Jax Brew Bitch. My motivation was noticing women at both establishments enjoying what I was somewhat surprised at myself for enjoying – craft beer. Over the past three years, those in the craft beer community have made me feel welcome and many assisted me in opening my own bar/restaurant I named, Silver Cow, in January. Their support motivated me to expand next door with another place to be named The Annex.
So, guys? … move your butt over … make way for a stampede of women jumping into craft beer! You’d better believe I’m one of ‘em – and remember, you won’t EVER see me splashin’ around inside a giant beer stein wearing a bikini. Heck, no! … when I dive into handcrafted brews, I skinny-dip.