Profiles: Women in Beer – Julia Hanlon
In Women In Beer, Lundy interviews female members of the craft beer industry
NAME & POSITION AT BREWERY?
Julia Hanlon, Head Brewer at Steamworks Brewing Co.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE POSITION?
WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE INDUSTRY? WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS SPECIFIC CHOICE? DID YOU CHOOSE? OR DID THE JOB?
A love of drinking beer turned into a love of making beer! I also love cooking and baking because I enjoy eating great food and also having others enjoy my creations, so brewing beer is kind of an extension of that. I decided after I finished university and after a trip to Europe (Belgium specifically) that making beer was what I wanted to do so I pursued a job at Molson on Burrard Street, which was one of the few breweries in town, at the time.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE ?
Before taking on the role of Head Brewer at Steamworks, I worked for Molson in Vancouver and in Montreal. During my 10 years with Molson, I worked in both packaging and brewing and also wrote my Diploma in Brewing through the Institute of Brewing and Distilling at UC Davis.
IT SEEMS THAT PEOPLE THAT GET INTO THE MICROBREWERY BUSINESS HAVE PASSION-HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR BEER?
As an engineering student at UBC, I enjoyed drinking a lot of beer. But the true passion for beer evolved over the years and especially after travelling in Europe. In particular, visiting Belgium and the Czech Republic and experiencing the reverence that people have for beer in those countries really influenced me a lot and made me realize I could actually make a career out of brewing.
DO YOU FEEL RESPECTED IN YOUR ROLE?
ARE THERE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY?
While there may not be advantages to being a woman in brewing, there are many advantages to women being in brewing!! Do I personally feel like I have an advantage? No. But I do always get a bit of a kick at the look on some people’s faces when I tell them what I do because they don’t expect that a) I am a brewer and b) I am the head brewer.
ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY?
I don’t think I have encountered too many disadvantages in my career, personally. For the most part, I think I have been treated equally to a man in the industry. If there were a general theme to being a woman in a male dominated field like brewing though, I would say that some people, almost subconsciously, have underestimated me. That can either get you down or motivate you and for me, it’s the latter.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB AND THE INDUSTRY?
I love the people I work with and the people I have met through this industry/community. Coming to work is (almost) always fun.
HOW WERE YOU TRAINED?
I was hired into Molson’s “Production Trainee Program”, which had me learning through hands-on experience in every aspect of brewery operations. Over two years, I held rotational roles brewing, supply chain QC, packaging, warehousing, maintenance and engineering. At the end of the two years, I completed the Institute of Brewing and Distilling Diploma in Brewing at UC Davis.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER OF THE BREWERY AND WHY?
My go-to Steamworks beer is our Pilsner. Its crisp and dry and a little bit hoppy, as a German Pilsner should be. I also really enjoy making and drinking hoppy beers, so I am really liking our ISA and our test batches of our upcoming IPA.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER OUTSIDE OF YOUR BREWERY AND WHY?
I am loving anything that Breakside Brewery in Oregon makes—apparently I am not the only one, as they just picked up 4 World Cup of Beer awards this year! Wanderlust IPA and Lunchbreak ISA are two of my favourites.
FAVOURITE FEMALE IN THE INDUSTRY?
There are women doing great things in this industry all over the place, so it’s hard to pick just one! I had the pleasure of participating in the Drink in the Story event at this year’s Victoria Beer Week, alongside Chloe Smith (Townsite) and Karen Kuzyk (Category 12). All of our stories were so different and it was inspiring to hear firsthand (and with such humour) what great things these women are doing. I expect all the women in the industry have great, funny, poignant stories to tell and I look forward to hearing more of them.
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
Making the leap from a big multi-national brewing company into the craft brewing world was a big milestone for me. After 10 years of working in the industry, I felt my position at Molson was taking me farther away from what I wanted to be doing (making beer, creating) instead of closer. I was no long fulfilled by my job, so I decided to change it. It’s easy to feel comfortable in the security of a large corporation or even obligated to carry on doing something that doesn’t make you happy, so I suppose I consider it an achievement that I was able to take control of my own destiny.
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