The Taprooms Committee Talks Craft Beer Relationships

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From the Tap: Musings from the Taprooms Committee

There are 168 hours in a week. For almost all of us, working full-time means 40 hours a week. For brewers and brewery managers, presidents and owners, that 40-hour mark is laughable. A “normal” work week for us is more along the lines of 60 hours.

There’s a reason why we consider our co-workers family. It’s because we see them just as much as those sharing a home with us. And for many, there is no real separation between our home and work lives, as we often work with our boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, partner, or significant other.

Whether a happy couple decided to start a brewery together or Cupid’s arrow maneuvered its way around stainless steel tanks and bags of malt to pierce the hearts of a pair of co-workers who are now partners, the craft beer world has its share of love stories.

I was struck by that arrow many years ago and so many others like me have been lucky enough to find their love because of craft beer. While this industry has helped to give so many that liquid courage to ask someone out, I want to tell the stories of those that were drawn to one another without the aid of PEDs (I’m talking “Performance Enhancing Draughts”).

In this post, I’ll share my story, as well as the stories of others who have met their significant other in the brewing world or been witness to those who have.

My Story: A Festive Proposal

I was the taproom manager at a brewery in Iowa and we were in desperate need of hosts and hostesses for the weekend. My general manager (GM) had been interviewing lots of candidates. One Friday, when I was coming in for my closing shift, he informs me that I’ll be training the new hostess that night. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was when I met my future wife.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a human resources nightmare scenario. She worked at the brewery as a host for a few weeks but then her full-time job offered her a higher position, so she no longer needed a part-time job. When she put in her two weeks’ notice, I was sad to see her go, but understood that’s the nature of this business. On her last shift, she asked me if I wanted to join her for a beer in the beer garden. Notice that SHE was the one that asked out her boss and it was AFTER she was no longer officially an employee.

Fast forward a couple of years, moves, and breweries into the future, and I had convinced her to come back to Iowa for a big beer festival that I help put on. After she almost backed out at the last minute, she still decided to join me at the festival. This is key as I had the engagement ring in my pocket, so my plans would have been slightly altered if she didn’t attend.

The festival was taking place at a hotel near the brewery where we first met. Before the festival started and the doors swung open to let in a couple thousand thirsty drinkers, I grabbed a microphone to address all the breweries in attendance, letting them know the ground rules, where to get more ice, and stuff of that nature. Unbeknownst to my girlfriend, the main reason I had the mic was to propose to her in front of a couple of hundred brewers, owners, and beer friends from across the state of Iowa (as well as my brother and his then fiancé, who were privy to what was about to happen).

With a couple of barrel-aged stout samples to calm my nerves, I got down on my knee, pulled out the ring box that was hiding in my beer socks, and I was about to anxiously ask her that big question. But before I could even muster the words, she said “yes” into the mic and we were officially engaged. I still remind her that I technically never asked her to marry me, but the stern glare she gives me shuts me up pretty quick.

Other Stories of Craft Beer Love

Nicole Smith from South Lake Brewing Company (SLBC) in South Lake Tahoe, California shares her brewery relationship story:

Running the brewery with my husband is a dream come true, but also can have its challenges – can I get an AMEN?! Our story is heartwarming and fun – Chris and I met at South Tahoe High School in the early 2000’s, dated through college, fell in love with craft beer together, got married in 2012, and pretty much immediately started dreaming about opening SLBC. After five years of marriage, planning, fundraising, and the typical blood, sweat, and tears – we opened South Lake Brewing Company together as co-owners in 2017. Fast forward another five years and we have a two-year-old son, 15 employees, and a growing and thriving brewery with a second location in the works! It’s been quite an adventure and is nowhere close to being complete.

Chris and I compliment each other on our strengths and help each other work through weaknesses. We are quite a team. Running the brewery together is very difficult, but so rewarding and fulfilling at the same time.

Katie De La Rosa from Faubourg Brewing Co. in New Orleans, Louisiana reminisces about a story that involves a future couple from a previous brewery she worked at:

A few years ago, I was abundantly fortunate to work for Wibby Brewing in Longmont, Colorado (a brewery that is co-owned by two friends whose wives were and are heavily involved!). I made so many meaningful relationships with my coworkers, regulars, and customers at Wibby. A lot of my former coworkers remain great friends, including my friend Lance, whose wedding I had the distinct pleasure of officiating in Salt Lake City this past September.

Lance and I hadn’t seen each other in a couple years after we both moved away from Colorado to Utah and New Orleans, respectively. But seeing him again, and getting to have such a special role in his wedding with his bride Jenny, was such a fun reunion that it felt like no time or distance had passed at all. My wife and I didn’t know anyone else at the wedding, so we mingled off to the side at the reception by ourselves only for a couple of minutes before we met a bunch of amazing people, with whom we even had an afterparty and remain social media friends.

Another one from my personal past took place at the very first brewery I worked at called Front Street Brewery in Davenport, Iowa. Front Street is a small, mom-and-pop brewery and the oldest brewpub in the state. The original owners were a husband and wife duo that served, for me, as the model for couples who run a brewery together. Steve was the introvert who only wanted to brew in his isolated area in the basement, while Jennie was the GM and handled all front-of-house duties. Each day when Steve was done brewing for the day, Jennie would have his sandwich and a soup or salad ready, and they would do their best to have a late lunch together. I believe this was the standard for at least 25 years or so before they left the area and moved to Arizona where they built a house near their kids. That’s about as close to a fairytale ending as we can get in this industry.

Share Your Story of Craft Beer Love

These are just a few examples of how spouses, life partners, or even best friends have a brewery at the heart of their origin story and maybe even now run their brewery together. With Valentine’s Day upon us, these stories of craft beer love and meet-cutes can remind us all that couples can indeed both live and work together and have a happily ever after.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Taprooms Committee! Want to share your craft beer love story? Join the discussion in the Taproom forum.