Most of you reading this article probably have not been introduced to the Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild. So I think the mission statement does a great job explaining the guild's purpose: "The Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild is a professional organization that fosters a Nebraska-centric community that is informed, enthusiastic, and actively creating unity among its members on market and public policy issues to create the most business-friendly climate for craft brewers."
For those of us that take for granted being able to walk into taprooms across the state and have some amazing beer or buying it at our local grocery store, there is a lot work taking place in the background. Gabby is busy working with the brewers, community organizers, and a long list of others to insure that craft beer in Nebraska is given fair treatment as a local industry of the state.
I have been at a couple of events with Gabby and what I really appreciate about Gabby is her ability to build relationships. Gabby is passionate about serving the craft beer community in Nebraska and is out in the public constantly being an advocate for everyone involved in the process of making beer in our great state.
I had a chance to get to know Gabby even better recently in an interview on the following questions.
When did you first know you wanted to be in the role you're in today?
I have been a craft beer lover and fan for over 10 years and have especially enjoyed seeing the Nebraska craft beer scene explode and grow over the last 5 years. As a nearly Nebraska native, (I was born in Wisconsin but moved to Nebraska at the young age of 3 months old) I also have a lot of Nebraska pride in general seeing my state start to put itself on the map as a place doing great things in the world of beer was exciting. When I saw the open Executive Director position for the Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild this past summer, I knew I had to take the plunge and apply. The opportunity to represent my state and work to promote Nebraska craft beer was one I couldn't pass up.
What has it meant to you to be a part of the Nebraska Craft Beer Community?
I am new to working inside the community and I've been overwhelmed with how welcoming and inclusive everyone has been. In an industry that can be highly competitive it's very inspiring to see all these businesses coming together to enhance craft beer in the state as a whole. The collaboration and camaraderie between breweries, farmers, industry partners, retailers, and also organizations and businesses beyond the industry is just really amazing to see. Being able to be an advocate for this industry and work closely with all these entrepreneurs, creative brewers, and community organizers is an absolute honor.
What excites you most about the future of craft beer?
I'm most excited about seeing the economic and social impact the brewing industry can bring to cities, communities, and neighborhoods across the state. The brewing industry in Nebraska is poised to be a real force for economic and even social change in the state. Whether a brewery is located in a small town or larger city, we've seen breweries become this hub for community engagement and involvement. Breweries are so much more than just bars or places where people get drunk and then go home. They're becoming meeting places for families, community, religious groups, young, old, and everywhere in between. This sense of community they are bringing is going to continue to have a ripple effect and trickle out into our state's economy and continue to positively impact industries beyond just craft brewing. One industry I feel will particularly benefit is the tourism industry. Beer tourism in the state is just getting started and people are really excited to get out of their neighborhoods and experience breweries away from home. As they go out on beer adventures they'll need to stop for gas, food, lodging, and all sorts of other pits stops along the way. As breweries become destination spots the ripple effect on the state will have even more of an impact.
What is it like being a woman in the craft beer industry?
I'm so new to be working inside the industry that I'm not sure how to answer that quite yet! First of all, I would be remiss to not mention all the women who have been working hard in the industry well before I came around. They may be in the minority but they are a small and mighty force. Tina Fey has a quote that says "bitches get stuff done." Well, bitches in beer definitely get stuff done! Whether they are brewery owners, managers, working in marketing and event planning, serving and educating, or working behind the scenes to help produce and craft the delicious beer we have in our state, women have certainly been making a mark on beer in Nebraska over the last 5-10 years. This group of ambitious and innovative women has paved the way for other women in the industry like myself and also are responsible for helping to make women in Nebraska feel like they can be part of the beer community here. I've been a craft beer fan and consumer for a while and I know how intimidating it can sometimes be to show up to a taproom, bottle shop, or event and feel like you're one of a handful of women (if not the only woman) in the room. It's so important to see other women making waves and showcasing that craft beer is for everyone. While the industry may have a history of being comprised mostly of men, the tide is turning because of women in the industry who are committed to opening up doors and claiming space. Men have been instrumental in this shift as well. It's encouraging to see that men are making it a priority to create space for women in the industry here in Nebraska.
Why is it important to see greater representation of women in the brewing industry?
According to the Brewers Association, women make up about 25% of craft beer drinkers. While that means we're certainly still in the minority, women have definitely made it clear that when given a seat at the table, we will become very passionate fans and consumers of craft beer. For everyday craft beer consumers (or potential consumers) it's important to see yourself reflected in the industry, so seeing other women enjoying, working, and advocating for beer is so important. I think the craft beer community by nature is a welcoming place and it is important to make conscious efforts to hire women. It is also important to create an atmosphere in breweries, bottle shops, and taprooms that is accessible and approachable to women and also for people of color, people of different socioeconomic backgrounds etc. The stereotype of a beer drinker is often a bearded white dude. However, craft beer is a beverage for everyone and making sure that everyone feels included, and that they can see themselves in the industry is very important. Bringing more people into the craft beer community will only make the industry stronger and better.
Thanks Gabby for all you do for the Craft Beer industry in Nebraska!