Thirsty in Victoria – Drinking In The Story During Victoria Beer Week
3 Great Women of BC Craft Beer Tell Their Unique Stories
As amazing as craft beer is in British Columbia when you think about it, that isn’t what makes BC craft beer great. The liquid that we enjoy is secondary; it is the result of the true force behind what we love. What truly makes BC craft beer great is the people. It is the people, their experiences and their passion that drives creativity and the expansion of locally produced beer. Often these people are brewing behind closed doors, slaving away out of sight or quietly taking in consumer reactions to their labours.
It is not common thought to think of beer in this way but Victoria Beer Week shares the sentiment. In the March 2016 series of events, one of the more impactful events that gave attendees a glimpse into the world of craft beer is Drink In The Story. 2016 was a uniquely special event as well being held on International Women’s Day. Three of the most passionate, endearing and knowledgeable women came together at the Drake in Victoria to tell their stories.
Julia Hanlon from Steamworks Brewing
First to climb up on stage was Julia Hanlon, Brewmaster at Steamworks Brewing Co. Julia comes from a different end of beer production. Starting her career at Molson she learned the art of consistency and quality while climbing the hierarchical ladder into the brewing division. After 10 years with Molson she stepped into the craft beer industry as the brewmaster for Steamworks Brewing in Burnaby BC.
As a brewer with a macro background Julia has enormous respect for consistency and the methodical nature of beer. As much as creativity is key in craft, without a scientific mind it is not possible. Not only is Julia a master brewer but she is also a wife, a mother and a free spirit. Balancing life and work is never easy but doing what she is passionate about has taken her career this far. Nothing comes easy and Julia has slaved to earn every step along the way.
Chloe Smith from Townsite Brewing
Chloe also started her career at scale. Brewing across the country she begrudgingly settled down in Quebec some time ago with Les Trois Brasseurs chain of international brew pubs. While she planned to move on to France as quickly as possible, she met her current business partner and husband Cédric Dauchot and Canada remained home. Chloe and Cédric started their venture back west with a brief layover in the prairies before settling in Powell River BC and opening the Townsite Brewery.
Chloe’s history was in brewing but at this point in her career she has taken an administrative role in making sure the brewery can function. She is the master of the details and keeps the team in check with her big personality and sometimes PG13 language. Speaking with Chloe her energy is infectious and much like Julia is a mother and a wife. Her life is split between work and family in the everlasting fight for balance. She is a wealth of knowledge and a great women that drives forward Townsite Brewery and the local industry.
Karen Kuzyk from Category 12 Brewing
Karen Kuzyk is relatively new to the industry and brings a unique set of skills to the table. With her husband Michael, following a dream, Karen opened the Category 12 Brewery in Victoria. With Michael behind the brewery Karen took the helm with running the day-to-day and taking charge on the marketing front. The inspiration behind the label designs, tasting room and brand image are much of her imagination and has quickly become engrossed in BC craft beer.
Following a decade of being a full-time mother, joining the beer industry was a career shift of epic proportions. Balancing family and business is not something that Karyn takes lightly and every day she loves what she does and struggles to find balance between the brewery and the needs of home. Despite this struggle, you can see in her smile that this is exactly where she wants to be!
While drinking beer from each participant’s brewery and listening to three stories from three unique perspectives there are both similarities and differences in each woman’s journey. Family is a consistent thread, it is of the up-most importance but one of the most difficult aspects of life to manage with a business that at times is a 24-7 commitment. Friends, family and life can take a hit at times for those around someone in the brewing industry and that is difficult for everyone involved.
On the other end of the spectrum it is also clear from these stories that there is no recipe for success when it comes to working in craft beer. Many people come from many backgrounds. It is not the route that you choose to get there but it is the ultimate direction that you take and the journey that you have along the way. It is never easy but for those that love craft beer and the people that make this industry amazing it is the only way and doing anything else is out of the question!