Since March is women’s history month, I thought I would highlight one of the many women helping to grow the craft beer industry here in New York, Josie Holden, of Nedloh Brewing Company. The 3,500 square-foot brewing facility—opening this Summer in East Bloomfield—will feature a tasting room, retail space and a museum dedicated to the history and process of local 19th century hops production.
How did you get into craft beer or brewing? Everyone seems to have an “Intro to craft beer story”… What’s yours?
I grew up in a family owned winery and I’ve been around wine all my life. Beer was very new to me. Getting into home brewing with my husband really piqued my interest and made me want to learn more about craft beer. It was a big transformation for me switching from wine to beer, since I had to learn about the different styles and tastes of beer and what would work for me. I’ve become very open minded in trying everything. Learning about craft beer has been a great experience for me. I’m looking forward to learning more by taking classes, home brewing, and traveling to different breweries all over. I’m especially excited to start my learning experience with opening a brewery.
What were you doing before opening the brewery?
Before thinking about opening a brewery I was helping out with the winery. I helped out with the retail and serving the wine. This is what I will be overseeing at the brewery.
How do you think people perceive women in the beer industry today?
If a woman wants to start her own brewery or become a brew master, it can be a shock to people because they are coming into a male dominant industry. I know this from experience with opening my brewery. It was intimidating at first for me because I didn’t know much about beer coming from the wine industry. However, I encourage myself to learn something new and to try new things – this was one of those moments. Opening a brewery and being a woman was a big step for me. I’ve had good support and I’m happy to be part of this industry. One of my goals at the brewery is to try to make a beer for women who drink wine to like.
Do you think the craft beer “bubble” is coming? Why or why not?
I read recently that the craft beer production was up 9.6 percent in 2013, while overall beer fell 1.4 percent. This is good news for the industry and craft beer enthusiasts too. We’re seeing that growth right here in the Finger Lakes, with craft breweries popping up all over the region. I’m happy to be one of them too. I always encourage people, especially women, to drink craft beer because it’s like finding a good bottle of wine that you know has taken a lot to make. It’s the same thing with craft beer. The brew masters and owners of craft beer are looking all over the country to find the best ingredients for their beer. For example, Dogfish Head Brewery is always looking for that unique ingredient to wow people. This is what makes the craft beer industry so unique.
What words of advice can you share with home brewers who are looking to start their own brewery?
- Make sure you have a good business plan and good marketing plan.
- Start off small to help get your feet on the ground and only have two or three beers on tap to start with.
- Invest in a brew sculpture to help figure out recipes. They are pricey but they are a smaller scale of a microbrewery system. We have one and we love it! So fun to learn on.
- Try all grain brewing instead of extract.
- Find a good location for your brewery. Very key to opening a business.
- Sign up for a membership to the Brewers Association.
- Check in your area for beer classes.
- Check in your area for local farmers who grow hops or barley.
- Go on a beer tour and meet new owners or brew masters. Ask for some advice!
What are three beers you’re really digging right now?
The best answer I always say to people is, “The one in my hand.” It’s hard to answer what your favorite beers are because there’s so many that I’ve enjoyed. My favorite styles of are stouts and porter. While I thought they were too bitter for my taste buds, I’ve recently gotten into IPA’s and really enjoy them now.