Danielle Mustarde meets US brewer Megan Stone to chat brewing beer, being queer and why the industry must diversify
BY DANIELLE MUSTARDE. IMAGES JOHN PHILLIPS/GETTY IMAGES
Fancy a pint? San Diego-based brewer and blogger Megan Stone‘s brewed one just for you. No, really.
Stone, who’s originally from Baltimore, Maryland, visited the UK recently to create the limited edition, hazy IPA “All For One” in celebration of Brighton-based Laine Brew Co’s new – and potentially game changing – apprenticeship scheme, One For All.
Aimed specifically at getting women and people from minority communities into the brewing industry, One For All is now open to all of those aged 16+ and from diverse backgrounds. (Already sold? Click here)
Having worked with some of the top breweries in the States, we thought we better take the opportunity to chat to Megan over a pint at the One For All launch and find out what it’s like working as a queer, female brewer in America in 2019.
On being a queer woman in a straight, male-dominated world…
“I honestly don’t think [things have got better]. I feel like 50% of my problems are about being a woman, and 50% are about being a gay woman, you know? I spoke at the launch about some of the comments that [have been] made to me and they’re all homophobic or that sort of theme. As a feminine-presenting woman or lesbian, guys often see me as a possible ‘opportunity’ because they don’t believe that I might be gay – that’s hard.”
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When I first started working in this industry I had no idea what to expect. I was excited to be there, excited to work and to learn. I didn’t notice I was different. But it didn’t take much time until other people made me aware of it. ⠀ ⠀ I immediately felt the need to prove myself. I wouldn’t accept any help, I pushed myself to the limit, and I found myself making sure that I never looked too feminine when I turned up to work and even to interviews.⠀ ⠀ I’ve been asked in interviews if I’d “even be able to lift things”, and have been told to smile more. I’ve been paid less than my male co-workers, even when I had more experience and had been at a brewery longer. A head brewer told people he was going to “f*ck me straight” and another boss said “I’m gonna milk that d*ke for all she’s worth.” When these issues were addressed, I was told they were “in my head”. ⠀ ⠀ It’s 2019 and myself and other minorities in beer are still fighting to be treated fairly. ⠀ —————— ⠀ Thank you to all the allies who stand up for and support equality in the beer industry. Thank you to @lainebrewco for giving me a platform to openly bring attention to and discuss this topic. ⠀ ⠀ ‼️TUNE IN tonight to the live panel featuring Farooq Khalid- @portobellobrewing, Jane Frances LeBlond- @mothership.beer, and myself on the @lainebrewco Instagram 6PM UK time or 10AM PST. ⠀ ⠀ 🍻: All for One – @lainebrewco + myself. A beer that marries the modern flamboyance of an American hazy IPA (juicy, citrusy, tropical), with the traditional British bitterness.
On the brewing scene in London…
“What I’ve heard from many people in brewing is that it’s sort of the same, it’s like… a lot of straight, white men. It actually seems like the States are a bit more ahead in that sense but I think that Laine Brew Co. introducing the One For All apprenticeship will send a ripple out, encouraging others to be more diverse and to make themselves more approachable.”
On breaking into brewing as a minority…
“I’ve been at some really great, very welcoming breweries – and some not-so-great breweries. I think that doing lots of research on what you’re getting into is really important and I mean that for anybody. I mean, I can vouch for Laine – they’ve been nothing but supportive and all they want to do is understand and be allies. All of their brewers, all of the people in marketing and in the offices, everybody’s been incredible. I think the apprenticeship would be a really great opportunity for somebody who is a minority to get lots of experience at a very welcoming brewery.”
On the brighter side of being a brewer…
“There’s a lot of things that I love about my job and that’s why I stay in brewing even though it doesn’t make a ton of money! I love that it’s a marriage of creativity and nerdy science [laughs]. I love that it’s very hands on and I love problem-solving and, honestly, it’s improved my problem-solving in real life, because it makes you think more. I also love that it can be very team-orientated or you can be on your own, it’s a good mixture. It’s also really great to put a lot of hard work into a product and then, just a few weeks later, to have that product in your hands, handing it to your friends and have them really enjoy it. It’s like, really satisfying.”
On words of wisdom for other women brewers…
“Stay persistent – it’s already really hard to get into this industry. Learn as much as you can; read all the books you can, home-brew or anything that will help grow your knowledge and, just be persistent in getting your foot in the door. And also, when you’re trying to do that, show the company – whoever it is – how passionate and how capable you are, and your abilities. Just really show your worth.”
On her favourite style of beer (at the moment…)
“I fluctuate or gravitate towards one for a while and then rotate, but right now? I really love saisons and grisettes. I feel like they’re very easy drinking and mild in one sense, but then also very complex in terms of flavours and aromas, layers and depth. And then, also, I really enjoy lagers, like Pilsners. I feel like it’s a true testament of the skills of a brewer because you can’t hide anything in it, a lager is just very clean and crisp.”
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