For this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March 2020) we wanted to take a minute to reflect on the amazing women in our lives that have helped shape and guide our careers. Three posts from the three founders on their experiences.
For IWD this year, we are super excited to be having a tap takeover at the Empire Hotel in Annandale - so please come and celebrate IWD with us, have a beer & toast the women in your lives. We will be there Sunday afternoon to cheer on the Aussies in their T20 World Cup Final, whilst having a few bevvies! Check out our social media pages for more info.
Being a brewer isn’t always an easy job. Contrary to the stereotypical bearded hipster, sprinkling hops into a bourbon barrel like Salt Bae, brewing beer is 90% cleaning and sterilising. Most of the day is spent standing over hot caustic, and scrubbing a stubborn stain off a rented keg. Throw into that the image of a woman throwing 25kg bags of grain over her shoulder, and then add a pregnancy. This was me in 2019. I found out I was expecting my first child 2 days after International Women's Day 2019. It wasn’t exactly a shock, but suddenly, our plan to start a family had become a terrifying reality. I don’t think I’m unique in that thought, I think all first-time mothers have a similar realisation, and I’m not the first woman in a male dominated industry to fall pregnant. I’m not the first woman in the alcohol industry to fall pregnant. But I am one of the first brewers in the still-young Australian Independent beer industry to fall pregnant.
At this time, Reckless Brewing only existed on paper, we weren’t commercially brewing. I was a production brewer at a large Independent brewery in Sydney. Fear became relief when I got on with it and found being pregnant and brewing beer was not as hard as I had imaged. Physically nothing had changed, I just needed to be a bit more careful when lifting, and not sample the product in quite the copious amounts I was used to. My co-workers were supportive, although perhaps a little perplexed and confused. Just like me they had never had to deal with one of the brewers being pregnant. But also like me, they got on with it, accepted I was a little slower, and helped me when I needed it. I’m very grateful especially to George, who never paused for a second if I asked him for help.
I wouldn’t be the brewer I am today, and wouldn’t have had such a positive pregnancy, if it wasn’t for the amazing women, both past and present, who have trailblazed into new industries before me. Women all over Australia are making delicious beer, running bars, making sausages, selling beer, growing hops, and much more. I’m very proud to have worked with them, and learnt a lot from them all (not just about making beer). So a huge shout out to Sam from Philter and Chrissy from The Sausage Factory for being a couple of these women who have had a super positive influence on my career.
Sam was there on my first ever day in a huge contract production brewery many moons ago, a far cry from the Independent scene in the inner west. Her advice that day, don’t forget to wash down the floor. I was eager to impress her that day, so I did wash down the floor, and then I washed it down again when she spilled grain all over it. From cleaning up her spilt grain, to sitting beside her on a panel last year, Sam has always been supportive. When she tried our Pale Ale for the first time, and said we had nailed it, I can’t tell you how proud that made me feel.
Now Chrissy, I have known this amazing woman for a much shorter amount of time. Chrissy was looking for industry professionals to sit on a panel about brewing, and taking the step from homebrew to commercial brewing - ‘So you want to be a brewer?’. She was looking for a brewer, a brewery owner, and a gypsy brewer. Well I was all of those things, and so, at 32 weeks pregnant, I presented alongside some amazing people, and shared to a mostly male audience, what it took to be all three of those things. What does that have to do with women you ask? Well the panel was made up entirely of women, Chrissy ordered 2 cases of our first beer without even trying it, and continues to order all our limited releases before they have even been packaged. Chrissy can be seen on social media promoting brews by women, looking for ways to get more female brewed and owned beer at The Sausage Factory, and is helping women in general push their products into the market. Chrissy you are the kind of person who make women in brewing visible, our industry would be so much richer if there were more people like you!
So here we are, a year after finding out I was expecting. Reckless has released 3 beers, I’m still working full time for a large Independent brewery, I’m running Reckless on weekends and in the evenings, and I have a 4 month old baby. I’m still one of the only brewers in Australia who has been pregnant while brewing, but there will be more. And if by chance you are reading this post, and find yourself relating at all along the way, please reach out to me. I have loved my experience so far, so pick my brain. From the pregnant brewer, I am now a brewer, a brewery owner, and a mum. Stay tuned how this turns out...