How did you get into brewing?
LH: I started out homebrewing around 2004. I was at the University of Minnesota for grad school, and brewing was a good way to procrastinate. I never finished my dissertation because my passion for brewing took over.
MM: My husband and I homebrewed for years. We even brewed the beer for our wedding—we had a kegerator with six different homemade beers. I grew up in Oklahoma, and it’s just a lot of Coors Light. Homebrewing was a gateway to good beer.
How did you all meet?
NB: Mostly at beer industry things. When you see another woman at an event, you’re like, “Oh, who is that?”
LH: I try to go to industry events to stay positive and make sure things get done. There’s still so much work to do. I feel like if I don’t participate it’s like saying, “Oh, it’s enough.” Also, we all see the same lash person [for eyelash extensions].
MM: Natalie got them first, and then we all started going.
LH: When you wear grungy clothes all day, you want one nice thing.
MM: Yeah, I’ve sprayed myself in the face with yeast all day, at least I have these.
What’s the industry like?
LH: Other breweries won’t defeat you; bad beer will. People want there to be drama, and there really isn’t. I don’t deal with as much sexism, racism, or BS as I have at other jobs. All breweries operate the same. Guys in the industry know we do the same thing every day. A long day of deadlifting 180 lb kegs hurts everyone.
MM: Honestly, I expected more of a fight. Everyone has been welcoming and supportive. Oregon specifically has a great community.
NB: The only time I have issues is with the public. It’s not my coworkers. It’s people who are like, “You’re the brewer?” And I’m like, “Yeah, fuck you.”
LH: I always get mistaken for Annie Johnson at (brewing equipment supplier) PicoBrew, and she gets mistaken for me. We look nothing alike. I finally had to tell someone, “No, that’s the other black woman.”
MM: I do a lot of dock sales, and I had a guy on Friday picking up six full pallets. He was like, “Honey, is there anything I can do to help?” I was like, “Yeah, you can go sit in the office and fill out paperwork. Also, that’s not my name.”
Do you think your gang will grow?
NB: I see more women working at breweries: making beer, running marketing departments, GMs, running labs. I recently looked through a booklet of résumés from UC-Davis’s brewing science program, and the résumés from women were only slightly outnumbered by men.
LH: People don’t know what they can do until they see someone else do it. It’s important for women to see other women brewing. Then they can see themselves brewing.