Get to know Megan ...
Megan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My interest in beer piqued in 2015 on the east coast when I worked at a craft beer-centric restaurant. It was an obligatory military move to Delaware that landed me my first job at a brewery, Dogfish Head. My interest became a passion and I decided I wanted to brew. I started reading everything I could and learning how to home-brew. Eventually, I brewed my first beer at Dogfish, and I began as an intern at a small local brewery called Mispillion River. Unfortunately, my internship was cut short by another military move. This time to Southern California. From there, I went to Refuge in Temecula, then Mikkeller, then Modern Times. My brewing career and experience has led me to amazing opportunities, including getting to brew and consult in Panama. I am currently brewing and managing back on the east coast (temporarily) at DuClaw. In November, I will spend three weeks in London brewing for Laine where I will also put on a festival celebrating diversity in beer. Afterwards, I will be back in my home in San Diego!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Brewing is a male-dominated industry and at times, I feel like I am very much reminded of that fact. There is still a lot of sexism in this field, even in 2019. I strive to make beer a more approachable thing for women, and for them to feel welcome in the community whether it’s as a consumer, brewer, or someone in sales.
I have dealt with a lot of mansplaining, condescending remarks, I’ve been told to smile more, or that mistreatment is “in my head”. I have also been paid less than my male coworkers. Some of whom are less experienced or had been at that job for a lesser period of time. My advice for women is to find a place that treats you with respect. Speak up when a line is crossed. As far as getting into a brewery in the first place, persistence is key. Keep showing up and asking about that job, and prove that you’re worth the hire by your enthusiasm and willingness to learn.
What should we know about Is Beer a Carb? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m currently working as a brewer/brewery manager and consultant. In my professional life, I work hard to produce quality beer that I am proud of. Most people don’t understand how much effort goes into making beer. It’s a very physical job involving chemistry, problem-solving, and about 95% of it is cleaning.
I believe the two things I am known for would be the fact that I’m a woman in beer, and that I’ve worked at a few of the most highly rated breweries in the country. I’ve spent time working and learning at multiple breweries of all sizes and with different types of equipment. This experience has launched somewhat of a consulting career for me. I have seen a lot of things done well, and even more mistakes. I’ve combined this knowledge into best practices of sorts and have begun helping new or struggling breweries.
I also consider myself a traveling beer blogger and an advocate for diversity in beer. I initially created my Instagram to connect with others in the industry, and never imagined my account would be so interesting to people. I think what sets me apart is being a gay woman in beer. It’s a male-dominated industry that contains a lot of sexism. More women are getting involved in the production of beer these days which is awesome! I didn’t plan on being a voice for women, it just kind of happened. I had to publicly stand up for myself enough and it made me realize (sadly) how necessary it is. I hope that I can continue to make this industry a more welcoming and accepting place for all types of people. The way I see it when diversity exists the more collaborative effort there is to create some amazing things.
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
I grew up with an older brother and a father who were very supportive of me. I feel like having supportive male figures in my life made me feel comfortable navigating a male-dominated industry where other women might feel intimidated.