California's Women Who Brew

California's Women Who Brew

It seems like it was just yesteryear when the grotesque Budweiser Bullfrogs were the first thing that came to mind when you thought of an ice-cold beer. Frat games and Homer Simpson belching carbonated remains was the impression most of America's pop culture envisioned. 

STORY BY: JAYCE BARONPHOTOS: COURTESY EAGLE ROCK BREW AND TYLER SADLER It seems like it was just yesteryear when the grotesque Budweiser Bullfrogs were the first thing that came to mind when you thought of an ice-cold beer. Frat games and Homer Simpson belching carbonated remains was the impression most of America's pop culture envisioned. Eventually, the fermented wheat water's reputation began to curve landing on a more sophisticated platform. The intricate science behind brewing craft beer has become more of an interest to the inquisitive masses. How exactly does one create the Super Bowl's favorite social beverage? After the curiosity came community and an influx of new craft brewers across the nation. From a restaurant to right at home, independent brewing has become an interest to anyone exploring a more intimate experience with their beer. Still, the “manly man's drink” narrative is rampant not only in the consumption of beer, but the knowledge, work, and meticulous science behind brewing. Southern California has not only been a hub for some of the most innovative flavor palates and aromas but is the home of some of the more diverse brewers. Eagle Rock Brew has been hosting the Women's Beer Forum for eight years in the pragmatic neighborhood tucked away in the outskirts of Hollywood. Created as a progressive space for people, regardless of gender, the forum provides a face-to-face experience with the chemistry behind craft beer. Members gain an internal understanding of beers so they are better prepared when ordering when they visit bars and restaurants.  “I was still working behind the bar a lot and was noticing how women were generally just told what to drink by the guys they were coming to the brewery with, even when the women tried to ask me questions about other beers,” said Ting Su, co-founder of Eagle Rock Brew and The Women's Brew Forum. “I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of preconceived notions on what types of beers women would be into, just because of gender rather than their palate preferences.” A first-generation citizen in the United States, Su's parents moved from Taiwan to Florida where she was raised. Growing up in a restaurant family in an immigrant household gave her a first-hand example of building the American Dream. That same ambition led her to earn her Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT) degree and work a successful decade in the field. Ultimately, her hospitality roots eventually rerouted her talents and skills to Eagle Rock Brew. Not only is she a boss at work, but a boss at home. Being a parent and having a career in any field can be difficult. Being a business owner takes that to another level. Ting Su manages to be a mom and a leader in the brewing community. “It's a challenge that I try to figure out daily. Since I'm very involved with the day-to-day operations at both the brewery and the restaurant, I tend to get home really late at night,” said Su when asked about work/life balance. “I send my little guy to daycare later in the mornings so that I can spend a bit of time with him before I start my day.” Homebrewing Outside of the giant machinery and professional drafts, some have taken an, even more, grassroots approach to brewing craft beer. With a simple kit from Amazon and researching the correct concoctions of yeast, oaks, and everything in between, people are brewing right at home! “Homebrewing is a task which makes it seem like a weird hobby to most. Why not just buy beer you know will taste good from the store or from your local brewery?” says Tyler Sadler, an up-and-coming Brew Master in the community. “Many claim you save money making your own beer but that is up for debate.” Born and raised in Riverside, CA, Sadler is now working and living in Los Angeles as a successful Production Coordinator. Ironically, always having a passion in fields mostly populated by men (like sound engineering), Tyler Sadler has always thrived as sometimes the only woman in the room. Introduced one unruly night after graduation, her taste matured and genuine intrigue forced her to explore the varieties of beers into adulthood. She took her allure to the next level and started brewing at home as a hobby in 2018 to delegate her time and energy creating holistic balance in her life. “There's a lot of stuff online and in books that can seem very overwhelming in terms of equipment you 'absolutely need' to brew beer, but technology and innovation in the brewing industry is so amazing that it's definitely possible to brew great beer in a small one-bedroom apartment,” explains Tyler. “My process involves using the least number of vessels as I can. This simple new method called 'Brew in a Bag' helps to eliminate the number of vessels you need.” Both Ting and Tyler shared their ups and downs being successful women of color in an industry that stereotypically appeals to men. Although challenging at times, Tyler joyfully explained that after the occasional initial shock (especially with her name), she's learned the fellas are harmless and will treat women equally and with respect. Regardless of gender, building a tribe of like-minded individuals can be beneficial for the development of your passions. A sense of community provides understanding, growth, or even just a sincere smile. As the accessibility to brewing your own beer becomes more sovereign, the Su's and Sadler's of the community will, with open arms, stir the pot and even chink a glass. So where’s the party at? Well, here’s a list of upcoming events to get your chug on. JUNE 15  |  1-4pm11th L.A. Beer WeekKickoff Festival 2019Los Angeles Center Studios450 S Bixel St, Los Angeles, CAlabeerweek.org JUNE 20  |  6-9pmEagle Walk: Sip & SavorMILKFARM2106 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CAeaglerockbrewery.com JULY 6  |  7-10pmLos Angeles Beer FestivalPershing Square532 South Olive St. Los Angeles, CArockstarbeer.com AUGUST 10  |  1-7pmLA Taco & Beer Festival '19Los Angeles Center Studios450 S Bixel St, Los Angeles, CAlatacobeerfest.com AUGUST 24  |  12-5pm2019 Taste of Brews Long BeachShoreline Aquatic Park(AKA Lighthouse Park)200 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CAtasteofbrews.com SEPTEMBER 12-13CA Craft Beer Summit 2019Long Beach Convention Center300 E Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CAcacraftbeersummit.com SEPTEMBER 14  |  12-5pmSummit Beer Festival 2019Marina Green Park386 E Shoreline Dr, Long Beach, CAcacraftbeersummit.com RESOURCES: CA Craft Brewers AssociationCCBA is a 501(c)6 nonprofit trade association representing the craft and specialty brewing industry in CA.Visit: californiacraftbeer.com LA County Brewers GuildThe LACBG’s mission is to promote and protect local independently-owned craft breweries and advocate for the strengthening of the craft beer industry.Visit: labrewersguild.org   We're working with entities to create jobs for people. We're not just working on the policy aspect of it, but [also] helping people where they are right now. Keep LA Fabulous.’ That’s been my theme...I want [2020] to be a call to action for LA to stay fabulous... I want us to build on the strengths of our city.” It was through her work at IBM that Willoughby first became involved with the business landscape of Southern California. And it was a desire to bring solutions to some of the problems within that landscape that led Willoughby to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Today, as an eternal optimist, Willoughby feels good about the business and commerce indicators for Southern California. “The ports are busy. The economy is strong. Unemployment is low. The Olympic Games are coming in 2028. These are just some of the indicators that feed my optimism.” At the same time, she is not oblivious to the issues impacting the Chamber's members as well as Southern Californians at large. She has her finger on the pulse of matters like affordable housing, advocacy from a policy perspective, and homelessness. For over a decade that she has been with the Chamber, the Board has been tackling hard issues using several strategies, one of which is community collaborations, an essential pillar of the Chamber of Commerce. Partnering with organizations that have unique insight and specialized approaches has been instrumental in advancing many of the Chamber's objectives. As one who lives by the motto, “I can't solve a problem I don't know about,” and one who believes strongly in the power of outreach, Willoughby lit up like a Christmas tree when she spoke about why she loves her job at SoCalGas. “With the gas and energy sources our company supplies, we help people cook. We help people wash their clothes. Basic human needs are met as a result of what we do here. As an engineer, who knew I'd be in a position to make life better for millions of people in this way.” The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is incredibly fortunate to have the strong and bold leadership of Denita Willoughby as our 2020 Board Chair. Throughout her career, she has shown immense leadership and a dedication for excellence that the Los Angeles region needs and deserves. This is truly an exciting time, and I'm looking forward to her partnership and support as we continue to chart the path to address some of our region's most complex problems and drive for a thriving region for all.” — Maria S. Salinas, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce For as much as she loves her job and loves making a difference, Willoughby lets nothing stand in the way of making sure her family knows how important they are to her. Happily married for 25 years, she and her husband are the loving parents of two young adult sons. Having a balance that puts her family first is a practice she has never compromised on. When asked about being called a woman of influence and power, her response was, “I have a responsibility as a Black woman to live up to it and deliver.” Delivering for Denita Willoughby means staying true to the core values her parents instilled in her: education, hard work, and helping others. Delivering means remembering the examples of women throughout her journey who personified influence and power—starting with her own mom, whom she calls “A real dynamo.” In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, Willoughby acknowledges that she would not be where she is today without mentors who guided her, shared their resources, and believed in her. “Believing in someone else is so powerful,” she declares as she talks about why she enjoys supporting others in any way she can. “Ask for help” is something I tell people all the time. As for her vision and how she plans to help further shape California in 2020, she had this to say: “I love the diversity. I love the culture. I love the energy. I love the Hollywood Bowl. I love the beaches. I love the sun. It helps me be happy. California is where I met my husband. (And she smiles even harder.) So, I plan to 'Keep LA Fabulous.' That's been my theme: 'Keep LA Fabulous' by doing the things that move our city forward. I want [2020] to be a call to action for LA to stay fabulous. I want our kids educated. I want them to know the technology of artificial intelligence. I want us to include natural gas and not take away choice for energy customers. I want us to build on the strengths of our city.” Willoughby recently served as a guest lecturer at USC's Multi-Cultural Women Executive Leadership Program. On January 30, 2020, at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce 2020 Inaugural Dinner, under the banner of their theme, "Our Bold Vision: A Thriving Region For All," she will be installed as its new Board Chair. 

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