Trim Tab Brewing Company hires Alabama’s first woman brewer

02.27.2014 by André Natta · → 1 Comment

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Wiersma up closeLauren Wiersma started this week as the newest member of the Trim Tab Brewing Company family. In the process, she also became the first female known to be working as a brewer at a brewery in Alabama. The brewery checked with the Pink Boots Society, an organization created to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the industry through education, and there’s no record of any others here, yet.

She’s not a stranger to metro Birmingham either, having spent most of her childhood here. She attended both Vestavia Hills High School and Birmingham Southern College.

Her path started simply enough. “I was in the wine business for a few years, and then I decided that I had some interest in brewing,” said Wiersma. She volunteered a couple of times at Avondale Brewing Company before heading out to Longmont, Colorado and an internship at Pumphouse Brewery. Once it was over She was offered a job in Longomont as she finished her three-weeks there by another brewery you may have heard of, Left Hand Brewing Company.

Wiersma said, “I basically asked my mom and sister if they’d pack up my things and send them to me ,and get rid of my apartment for me.”

She ended up spending two years out west. She was at Left Hand for just under a year doing packaging, spending the rest of that time at Oskar Blues as a cellar operator. According to her profile on their website, the position “handled everything from yeast care to dry hopping to filtering to cleaning tanks.”

Her journey back to Birmingham began due to some winter weather and a Facebook status update. Wiersma said, “One day I was having a very frustrating day with snow and ice up there. I got stuck in traffic for about two hours and made it fifteen miles and I finally turned around and put a rant up on Facebook about it and how I hated the snow and the cold.” Trim Tab’s brewmaster Will Crenshaw saw that status update and sent her a message saying that if she wanted to come back South, send him a resume. After talking to her fiancé, she decided to see where it led.

“That was on a Monday. Thursday, Harris emailed me and asked me if I’d be interested in doing an interview, Wiersma continues. “I told him I’d be in New Orleans that weekend, and he happened to be in New Orleans that weekend.” They met up, had a beer, and talked.

The following Tuesday morning, Wiersma said, “he and Will Facetimed with me. We chatted and they asked me some more questions. They called me back an hour later and offered me the job.”

wiersma portraitShe enjoyed her time in Colorado, but Wiersma missed her friends and family. “This is home to me,” she said. “I love Colorado. I loved being able to go hiking Rocky Mountain National Park whenever I wanted and all the outdoors stuff, I absolutely loved it. But this is home, and this is where my friends and family are.”

Wiersma is looking forward to helping to continue to shatter some perceptions of the industry. “It’s definitely one of those things depending on who you talk to. Some guys won’t take you seriously if you’re a female in the industry. Most of them are so accepting and wonderful and once they know you pull your weight and you know what you’re talking about, they’re like brothers. They’re great and you just kind of fit in and become one of the guys. I don’t think a lot of women see that aspect of it. Once you’re in there it’s awesome and it’s the most fun industry to be in.”

“I hope that I’m able to influence some women who are interested and hesitant of getting into the industry and it’s not as scary as it seems to be from the outside. I really would like to talk to any women who are interested and help them find ways to get in, find ways to encourage them.”

She’s also looking forward to the challenges ahead. “It’s neat to be able to come down into such a new brewing scene that I hope I can help guide.”

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If I remember right, New Vulcan Ale House had announced a female brewmaster, but of course they never got underway.