Inspired by a Thrillist.com post about 15 female bartenders, the conversation surrounding it, and thinking about the other half of the Boozy Beggar world – beer. Made this a two-parter because there’s a lot of ladies that need mentioning. Don’t be surprised if a Ladies of Spirits comes next…
The last time I went on a real job interview, I got asked “what inspires you?” Wasn’t the first time, either. I always find it such a weird question, and one I stumble over in interviews. Finally though, at 35, I figured out the answer. People inspire me. They inspire me to bike winter as much as I can, they inspire me to make better cocktails, they inspire me to cook more, to work harder, to be a better person. Many of them are women too, and remarkably bad ass women fit all the above. This post about the Ladies of Chicago Beer goes out to all of them.
1. Jess Straka, Revolution Brewing.
Once, I was a blogger looking for a brewery to write about, and talk to real live beer people. Jess Straka worked at Metropolitan Brewing at the time, and she made it happen. She was the first person in the industry I met, and then we realized we lived in the same neighborhood. Beer sharing became friendship, and she’s one of the raddest people I know.
2. Tracy Hurst, Metropolitan Brewing
She’s one of the Lords of Lagertown. I like lagers and she’s one of my favorite people to reach out to when I want to write about her brewery, which consistently makes me happy. My volunteering with Metropolitan taught me a lot about beer, about breweries, about robots that pour beer, and introduced me to many people I love and work with regularly in some capacity. Also, metal shows. Her minions are hand-selected Paladins of Beer.
3. Amy Rivers, Artisanal Imports
Shit people, she’s my co-worker, duh. Originally, we met because Amy came to Bar Deville regularly with other awesome regulars, and then we both became Artisanal Imports peeps. She’s a bad ass, running around town prophesying about Belgian beer, amazing cider, and more. Also, her guffaw in the middle of a beer event is one of the most heartwarming things you’ll hear surrounded by beer geeks.
4. Melissa Modlinski, Heather Christian and all the ladies of Windy City Distribution
The first two I know the best, but there’s others at this amazing distribution engine. This company is why you drink craft beer, basically, and this company isn’t some boys club with a few ladies. This is culture change in a modern company, with a knack for hiring badassery from all angles. They’re also super fun and feel like extended Artisanal family.
5. Dani Hoyler, Three Floyds.
I think I’ve been following her various twitter handles since before she ended up at Three Floyds, and definitely from before I became The Boozy Beggar. Always good for a smile or a high five at some beer event. Her cat and my cat look like long-lost brothers.
6. Courtney Baldy, Revolution Brewpub Pastry Chef.
Another old twitter friend from before I became The Boozy Beggar. The first time we met at The Map Room is all a blur. I will go to Revolution just for a dessert from her (plus Ms. Beggar really likes them too). She’s a wizard at putting beer into dessert. Has the tenacity to visit me on a Saturday night to catch up and tilt one back together.
7. Jacquie Armanetti, Forbidden Root
We used to argue about beer while I was the Bar Deville door guy and she worked at Paramount Room. Took her opinions very seriously and learned a lot. Made her cocktails years later when she started working on the distribution side of things, and then just last year at CCBW, we ran into each other and we caught up about life, families, and she gave me the most needed ride home from Beer Under Glass. Now with one of my favorite new breweries!
8. Claudia Jendron, Temperance Beer
Another person I’ve known for awhile, before I became The Boozy Beggar, and now running the brewing show at Temperance, like a boss. Also, another lady at another one of my newest favorite breweries (there’s no connection, the brewery love comes separate, promise).
9. Kim Leshinski, Hail to the Ale
Blogger, event planner, homebrewing teacher, entrepreneur, designer. I’m not sure what she doesn’t do, to be honest. A lot of bloggers have the charisma of a flat glass of beer, no offense people. Kim’s warm design aesthetic mirrors her personality, and makes it easy to hang out at events, chat about favorite beers, learn from each other’s mistakes, and so on.
10. Erin Phillips, Boka Group
Last but not least in the first part of this piece, is the second lady I met in the industry, back when Brasserie Jo in River North hosted regular beer tastings. I met Erin before I even knew how to pick her brain of all the amazing beer knowledge inside it, or the wine knowledge, or the beverage/restaurant world knowledge. Now she’s running places and motivating staff, and probably she needs help with her bottle collection somewhere, and she should all visit her and drink with her.