Beer Town: Terrapin in Athens has become a mecca for women brewers

Terrapin brewing supervisor Chrissy Loganchuk adds Pink Boots hops on brew day at Terrapin's ATL Brew Lab. (Courtesy of Kevin Roberts)
Terrapin brewing supervisor Chrissy Loganchuk adds Pink Boots hops on brew day at Terrapin's ATL Brew Lab. (Courtesy of Kevin Roberts)

Credit: Kevin Roberts

Credit: Kevin Roberts

On March 8, International Women’s Day, I spent some time at the ATL Brew Lab and Terrapin Taproom at Truist Park with Terrapin brewer Anita Riley and Terrapin brewing supervisors Jess Hurd and Chrissy Loganchuk.

Along with Terrapin co-founder and VP Brian “Spike” Buckowski, Riley, Hurd and Loganchuk were there to participate in the Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day — an annual event organized by the Pink Boots Society, a global nonprofit that highlights women’s roles in the beer industry.

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Among the women who work at Terrapin are (left to right) brewer Anita Riley and brewing supervisors Jess Hurd and Chrissy Loganchuk. (Courtesy of Kevin Roberts)
Among the women who work at Terrapin are (left to right) brewer Anita Riley and brewing supervisors Jess Hurd and Chrissy Loganchuk. (Courtesy of Kevin Roberts)

Credit: Kevin Roberts

Credit: Kevin Roberts

According to Buckowski, right now, Terrapin likely has more women working in the brewery in Athens than any other craft-size brewery in the U.S. A 2019 survey by the Brewers Association found about 7.5% of the staff of reporting breweries employed a female in the brewer role.

“We have a tightknit group of female brewers, and we thought it would be great, especially on International Women’s Day, to come down and brew the Pink Boots beer here,” Buckowski said.

In recent times, several craft breweries have faced charges of sexism, and even serious abuse. That’s something the women brewing at Terrapin are all well aware of. And not surprisingly, it was the context for what we started off talking about.

“The brewing industry is a highly stressful environment, and you are still going to run into some strong personalities,” Hurd said. “But Terrapin has worked pretty hard to sort of change the course on some of the more toxic behavior that used to be more prevalent. And I think we have managed to become a brewery that’s exceptionally welcoming.”

“I’m very comfortable in a male environment,” Riley said. “My parents owned and ran two body shops while I was growing up, and that was kind of like the world I grew up in. So to be in a male heavy industrial environment is very normal for me.

“I think that coming to Terrapin, though, I realized that suiting up every day, putting on my PPE, my cap, my safety glasses, and boots, what I wasn’t having to put on was that emotional armor of just being a woman in a space that wasn’t necessarily welcoming or inviting.”

“Terrapin was my first full-time job out of college,” Loganchuk said. “I’ve always been part of some sort of sports team, so I’ve always been on a team of women, and Terrapin in some ways feels like that, I think. We definitely joke around, and I think that helps a lot.

“But you don’t have to worry about not being respected. I always feel comfortable coming to work, and having a good time, being able to throw some jabs, but without any sort of aggression.”

Even with the strides they’ve made, Riley, Hurd and Loganchuk agreed it’s doubtful that most beer drinkers know how many women are working at breweries now.

“When I would tell people I was going for a brewing program, they would be like, ‘Oh, you have to have a beard for that.’ ‘You have to be a guy for that.’ But I think that there is a consumer perspective that you have to be a guy, and that it’s so hard that women can’t do it,” Hurd said. “I think that’s a barrier to entry for women who may have been interested, otherwise.”

Pink boots with the Pink Boots hop blend from Yakima Valley at Terrapin's ATL Brew Lab. (Courtesy of Kevin Roberts)
Pink boots with the Pink Boots hop blend from Yakima Valley at Terrapin's ATL Brew Lab. (Courtesy of Kevin Roberts)

Credit: Kevin Roberts

Credit: Kevin Roberts

From Buckowski’s perspective, the current brewing team is doing stellar work.

“I honestly think with our team right now, we’re making some of the best beer we’ve ever made,” he said. “And I think these women are a big part of it. I think they really do keep it all under control with their attention to detail.”

Look for the Terrapin Pink Boots beer, dubbed Light the Way Pale Ale, coming soon on draft at the ATL Brew Lab in Atlanta and the Terrapin taproom in Athens.

It’s a classic American pale ale, brewed with the Pink Boots blend of Ahtanum, Cashmere, Citra, Loral, and Sabro, which give it tropical, herbal, citrus and woody aromatic qualities.

“We just wanted to showcase that hop blend, which smells amazing,” Hurd said. “The pale ale, aside from showcasing the hops, has a light, biscuity flavor from the malt bill. It’s easy drinking, and just clean, crisp and classic.”

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