Tag Archives: beer

Trim Tab Brewing Company hires Alabama’s first woman brewer

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.”

Oskar Blues comes “home” to Alabama next month

Last night, one simple tweet stopped the local craft beer scene in its track, but  in a good way:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/OskarBluesBama/status/214742671938424832″]

That’s right; Oskar Blues and their cans of craft beer will be making its Alabama debut later this summer – perhaps as early as July based on this other tweet sent out by the account dedicated to the state earlier today:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/OskarBluesBama/status/215486689215385601″]

This development is big news for fans of the Lyons, CO-based craft beer maker, especially those aware of the fact that the company’s owned by Florence, AL natives Dale and Chris Katechis will turn to Birmingham Beverage to begin distributing their cans in Birmingham and elsewhere in the northern 2/3 of the state. They’re scheduled to be in holding release events between July 2-4 according to their press release.

We got a chance to catch up with Ben Lewellyn of Good People Brewing Company to hear what someone from the only brewer in the state currently making craft beers delivered in cans had to say.

Keeping up with plans as they unfold should be easy if you’re a fan of social networks. They’ve got a brand page on Facebook in addition to the Twitter account.

Brewery Modernization Act passes Alabama State House

Free The Hops tulip glassBoth of Birmingham, AL’s microbreweries hope to soon enjoy the opportunity to serve their beer on their premises. The Brewery Modernization Act, supported by Free the Hops, passed the Alabama State House of Representatives earlier this evening in Montgomery.

If the State Senate concurs with the substitution made to the bill this evening during their session tomorrow, it will go to Governor Bentley’s desk in Montgomery for his signature.

It had been endorsed by the Alabama Brewers Guild, but also the Alabama Restaurants Association and the Alabama Hospitality Association.

The bill would allow for existing breweries to add tap rooms. It would also make it easier for brewpubs to open in the state, providing opportunities for additional jobs. As reported earlier this month in The Birmingham News, concessions were made to allow for passage that doesn’t necessarily sit well with all parties.

Both of the existing breweries in metro Birmingham, Good People Brewing Co. and Avondale Brewing Co., have the capabilities to be modified to allow for serving beer on their premises.

UPDATE: Free The Hops calls for statewide boycott of Anheuser-Busch, distributors

UPDATE: FTH has posted the list of beers affected by the distributor boycott on their website.

Free The Hops tulip glassLeaders for Free The Hops | Alabamians For Specialty Beer (FTH) announced their to call for a consumer boycott of Anheuser-Busch products and their distributors statewide this morning. This is first time that they’ve made such a request since January 2008 when they called specifically called for a boycott of products distributed by Birmingham Budweiser.

According to a post on the non-profit organization’s website, the vote by the board was unanimous, with one member choosing to recuse themselves due to a conflict of interest.

While the Free the Hops Bill (HB 373) passed in May 2009 (raising the level of alcohol allowed by volume in beer available statewide), there are two bills currently attempting to make their way through the state legislature – the Brewery Modernization Act and the Gourmet Bottle Bill; both measures were recently held over in Montgomery.

FTH’s official press release contends that Anheuser-Busch has been working against legislation currently under consideration in the State legislature. We have sent an email to Birmingham Budweiser requesting comment and will share that statement as soon as possible.

FTH also they would take the initial step of banning all beers distributed by Anheuser Busch distributors in Alabama from not only this year’s Rocket City Brewfest in May but Birmingham’s Magic City Brewfest in early June.

Three years ago, then FTH president Stuart Carter shared this piece with us about why bills then before the State legislature needed to pass.

Good People is Good Beer… according to GOOD Magazine

Map of GOOD Beer. Courtesy of GOOD MagazineGood People Brewing Company (GPB) was recently recognized as Alabama’s representative in GOOD Magazine’s list of the most popular microbrews in the United States.

The United States of GOOD Beer highlighted the best microbrew option in each of the 50 states. Every state was represented – except for Idaho.

GPB also celebrated a joyous moment last week Friday. Folks visiting  some area groceries and restaurants in Birmingham and Huntsville were finally able to enjoy the Birmingham-based microbrewery’s Brown and IPA in cans.

One of the cool things about the availability of the six-packs available is the 6-pack holders they’re being distributed with. They’re developed by PakTech, a company out of Oregon that was interviewed back in August by CraftCans.com about the design of the holders.

The holders are made of HDPE, a #2 plastic that is accepted at the Alabama Environmental Center‘s recycling station downtown.

Infographic: courtesy of GOOD Magazine.

More microbrews for Birmingham

Avondale Brewing Company under construction. Via Fan Page on Facebook.In case you haven’t been able to tell, Birminghamians truly love their beer. We’re also becoming a home of some rather tasty brew with many of us supporting Good People Brewing Co. whenever possible (incidentally they’ve announced that their new equipment (including canning) should be here by October.

We have blog dedicated to our love of the stuff here in The Magic City (read: Beeringham). We’ve got an incredible annual beer tasting event that just celebrated its third year earlier this month. The metro area’s even the home of Free The Hops.

So you can imagine just how easy it would be to let folks know that you’re planning to open the second brewery in town in two months… very.

Avondale Brewing Company announced their existence via Facebook one week ago today; it now has nearly 1,200 fans 2:15 p.m. It was featured in The Birmingham News just three days after its Facebook debut. They’ve even got their own Bhamwiki listing and a few followers for their Twitter profile (though they can always use more).

They hope to be open no later than the beginning of next year. I even enjoyed using it to talk about accentuating the positives of the city late last week

Photo: Avondale Brewing Company under construction. Courtesy of their fan page on Facebook.