Noble Women of Craft

We tip our caps to eight Las Vegans making the beer scene bright 

CraftHaus’ brewer Steph Cope and Wyndee Forrest. | Photos by Krystal Ramirez

CraftHaus’ brewer Steph Cope and Wyndee Forrest. | Photos by Krystal Ramirez

Wyndee Forrest

Founder, Co-owner and CEO, CraftHaus Brewery

➜ Two trips to Europe was all it took for CraftHaus Brewery owners Wyndee and Dave Forrest to fall in love with handcrafted beer and start homebrewing. “The passion for craft beer and its culture took over our lives,” Wyndee says. “It took four years from us saying, ‘Hey, let’s open a brewery,’ to actually opening. I look at those four years of research, studying, making contacts and attending conferences as a degree in how to open a craft brewery.” As with any startup, the Forrests find themselves wearing many hats. For Wyndee, a UNLV graduate, that means everything from social media, marketing and public relations (her former wheelhouse) to promotions, beer-tending in the taproom and planning events, such as their upcoming one-year anniversary celebration on September 12. Forrest is a Cicerone-certified beer server and member of the Brewers’ Association, Nevada Craft Brewers’ Association, Pink Boots Society and Master Brewers Association of Americas. CraftHausBrewery.com.

HEY, BOSS LADY: “The biggest challenges for women in the craft beer industry are the same challenges that professional women face in the workforce, no matter what industry: Powerful women are viewed as bossy or bitchy, but a powerful man is a respected leader.
EVEN BOSSES HAVE IDOLS:
“Cyrena Nouzille of Ladyface Ale Companie and, of course, Kim Jordan of New Belgium—they both carry themselves as educated, eloquent leaders.”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Saison Dupont. “It was my beer ‘Aha!’ moment.”
DAY OFF: “One of our Tweaked series beers.”
GUILTY PLEASURE: “Comrade, our Russian Imperial Stout. I feel guilty for drinking it because I know that is one less pint for our guests … but I can’t help myself.”
SUMMERTIME SIPPER: “One of our fruited sour beers.”
BEST LOCAL (NOT YOUR OWN): Joseph James Citra Rye Pale Ale.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: Anything from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales.

Steph Cope

Co-head Brewer, CraftHaus Brewery

➜ Nevada’s first female head brewer began homebrewing at 18 (it’s legal down undah). But a short time as a government economist after college was enough to send her back to school to study brewing science while working at a production brewery in Perth, Western Australia. After touring the U.S. for 13 months as itinerant brewers, Cope and her boyfriend Steve Brockman joined the Forrests at CraftHaus. But Cope is the first to admit that brewing isn’t just about mashing in and mucking out. “Despite being the most enjoyable aspect of my job, the physical act of brewing beer is a relatively small part of my tasks. Like every brewer, logistics and bookkeeping take up a large part of my week. On any given day, I also moonlight as a plumber, electrician, refrigeration mechanic, engineer and scientist.” Cope is a member of the Pink Boots Society, Society of Beer Travelers and co-creator of TwoBrewersAbroad.com. CraftHausBrewery.com.

REMEMBER THE BREWSTERS: “The cliché of a brewer or beer drinker being a middle-aged, bearded, slightly overweight white male is a result of a century of marketing by large multinational breweries and has been extremely damaging to women entering the beer industry. Historically, women were the brewers [called “brewsters”], and hopefully over the next few decades, women will retake some of that market share. Our biggest hurdle is making sure that women know that they are welcome in the industry—as workers or drinkers—and that you don’t need to relinquish any of your femininity if you don’t want to.”
SO, WHAT DO YOU DO? “If I’m feeling cheeky I will politely explain that, ‘fortunately, no genitals were used in the brewing of this beer.’”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Coopers Pale Ale. “I still love it to this day.”
DAY OFF: Whatever’s new on tap at Atomic Liquors.
GUILTY PLEASURE: “I can drink a six-pack of Ska Brewing’s Modus Hoperandi, no problem.”
SUMMER SIPPER: “Anything in a can with a low ABV. Currently, our Evocation Saison and Big Dog’s Las Vegas Craft Lager.”
BEST LOCAL (NOT YOUR OWN): Joseph James Citra Rye Pale Ale.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: Sahati, by Ale Apothecary in Bend, Oregon, a traditional Finnish beer, made using a hollow log and spruce tips. “It is beautifully delicate and smells like Christmas.”


Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Kayla Callahan

Operations Assistant, Joseph James Brewing Co.

➜ Without her, there would be no beer. Not for Joseph James Brewing Co., anyway. Since 2007—minus a bartending stint at the Freakin’ Frog—Callahan has handled the purchasing of ingredients and packaging, as well as compliance, event coordination, quality control and all the administrative work that keeps Henderson’s production-only facility operating. Tickling her palate today are sour beers. “I find them tart, refreshing and complex. The funkier, the better! And luckily for me, they are growing in popularity.” Callahan is a certified cicerone, certified beer judge, president of the Las Vegas chapter of Barley’s Angels, a Pink Boots Society member and member of SNAFU, the Southern Nevada Ale Fermenter’s Union. JJBrewCo.com.

CRACKING THE BEER-GLASS CEILING: “If you have passion for something, become a part of it. Don’t be intimidated to join an industry where women are outnumbered. The people behind the beer are amazing, and will likely treat you with the same respect no matter what your gender is. You also need to earn that respect through education.”
BIG BOOTS TO FILL: “Teri Fahrendorf started brewing professionally in 1988, and is the current president and founder of the Pink Boots Society. She was very ambitious and passionate, and did not let the fact that there were hardly any other females brewers at that time prevent her from reaching her goals.”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Deschutes Black Butte Porter. “I have been hooked on craft beer ever since.”
DAY OFF: A sour, or anything local at Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Shakespeare’s Pub & Grille or Atomic Liquors.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Coors Original Banquet. “When I don’t have a lot of choices, I choose that.”
SUMMER SIPPER: “I truly love our [Joseph James] Citra Rye Pale Ale.”
BEST LOCAL (NOT YOUR OWN): Big Dog’s War Dog Imperial IPA.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: “Consecration or Supplication from Russian River Brewing Co.”


Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Melissa Long-Higgs

Craft & Import Beer Specialist, Nevada Beverage Company

➜ “I’ve always been a big ‘beer nerd’ at heart—collecting, trading and trying anything and everything I could get my hands on,” Long-Higgs says. Eighteen years of retail management experience has served her well. First she worked in the beer and education departments at Total Wine & More for five years, and for the last two years with Nevada Beverage. Long-Higgs works with restaurants, bars and stores to find the best mix of craft and import beers for their clientele, as well as teaching cicerone certification up to level two. She is a certified cicerone and a member of the Pink Boots Society. NevBev.com.

DIVINE INSPIRATION: “Sometimes when a person has a very technical job, they have a hard time communicating so ‘normal’ people can understand. Lauren Salazar, sensory specialist at New Belgium Brewing Co., is able to explain processes and flavors in a way that is fun and easy to understand. In all my training, I try to mimic that characteristic. I never want to come across as intimidating. The better I can explain, the better those individuals can be at their job, creating lasting experiences for everyone.”
TRY, TRY AGAIN: “I often hear, ‘I don’t like beer.’ That’s because you haven’t tried the right one! What’s really fun is how your tastes change and evolve over time. I love to introduce people to new styles of beer that they would have never otherwise tried.”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Bitburger German Pilsner. “The first sip, I was hooked, and I continued to drink my way … from Kölsch to rauchbiers to hefeweizens, but always coming back to ‘Bitte, ein Bit’!”
DAY OFF: Anything at Tacos & Beer on Paradise Road.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Crabbie’s Ginger Beer from Scotland.
SUMMER SIPPER: 21st Amendment’s Hell Or High Watermelon or Anderson Valley Summer Solstice.
BEST LOCAL: Joseph James Citra Rye Pale Ale.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter by DuClaw Brewing from Baltimore. “Dessert in a bottle.”


Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Rose Signor

General Manager and Minority Owner, Atomic Liquors

➜ We have Seattle to blame (or credit?) for sparking Signor’s love of craft beer. “That’s where I had my first sour beer!” Signor says. Thanks to that, she was recruited by Atomic Liquors owner Lance Johns, “because of our similar vision to create a customer-service-oriented bar with a comfortable atmosphere, which also specializes in craft offerings.” Signor selects and maintains Atomic’s 20 rotating taps and 50-plus can and bomber menu, mostly American and local, with a focus on sours. Signor’s own favorite style is gueuze, a sour, funky blend of young and old lambic beer that is traditionally spontaneously fermented. “I grew up on a farm, so I totally relate to the barnyard-like qualities in the beer. Horse blanket—yum!” Signor is a certified cicerone, Barley’s Angels member and member of the Nevada Beer Lovers Club. AtomicLasVegas.com.

A MODEL MENTOR: “No, he’s not a brewer or hop grower, but Wirtz Beverage Nevada’s craft portfolio specialist Michael Shetler was doing beer dinners at Rosemary’s before people knew what craft beer was in this city. He’s truly passionate and continues to inform and educate the community about craft beer.”
A MATTER OF TASTE: “Certain research has proven that women have on average more taste buds than men, thus potentially making them better tasters. Being able to taste better is an obvious advantage in this business.”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Ommegang’s Three Philosophers Belgian Quadrupel. “I had no idea beer could be so rich and complex.”
DAY OFF: Rare, vintage beers or beers we can’t get in Las Vegas.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Long Trail’s Blackbeary Wheat. “It reminds me of home.”
SUMMER SIPPER: Berliner Weisse with a shot of Woodruff syrup.
BEST LOCAL: Joseph James Citra Rye Pale Ale or their first sour, Basin & Range, aged for 18 months in barrels.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: Anything from Portland’s Cascade Brewing Co. “But now we get limited quantities, so I’m a happy girl!”


Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

Ashley Auer

Madame of Craft (Craft Program Director), Rebel Republic

➜ Also known as “Kat Sassafrass,” Auer keeps Rebel Republic’s 52 draft handles rotating through an impressive selection of mostly domestic craft brews, as well as the 1-year-old spot’s beer list, chalkboard menu and its “Just Tapped” list. “To date, I’ve tried more than 5,000 different beers,” Auer estimates. It helps that she loves festivals, and she’s been to a lot of them, “in California, Portland and even the esteemed Great American Beer Festival in Denver.” Auer is a Cicerone-certified beer server, Pink Boots Society member and an inaugural member of the Las Vegas chapter of Barley’s Angels. RebelRepublicLV.com.

NO COMPETITION: “One of the things I love about the craft beer movement is that there is nothing a woman can’t do in this industry! The playing field is completely level. Everywhere you look, there are women brewers popping up and making rock-star beers. I have never once heard ‘she does well … for a girl.’ This industry embraces the love of the craft as a whole.”
THAT BEING SAID: “I think it’s the ‘pretty vs. knowledgeable’ angle, especially in Las Vegas! There is so much T&A being broadcasted it makes it hard to get past. Sometimes you get dismissed as just a pretty face before you can talk about what you know.”
EVEN THE SCORE: “Get better educated. Strive for the extra training, try more beers, get out there and be a woman of beer, not just a pretty woman in beer.”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale. “It always came out right around my birthday, and even though I didn’t always drink beer, I would buy two six-packs.”
DAY OFF: Whatever’s being shared at Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits’ Wednesday-night bottle share.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Blue Moon.
SUMMER SIPPER: Barrel House Sunny Daze, “a tropical blonde ale made with clementine oranges and orange blossom honey.”
BEST LOCAL: CraftHaus Black & Blue or Sour Peach.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: Anything by Lost Abbey or Wicked Weed.


Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

Sarah Marie Johnson

Director of Food & Beverage, Mandalay Bay

➜ Once again we have the Great Northwest to thank, as it was Johnson’s time at culinary school in Portland, Oregon, that introduced her to beer. “Moving to Las Vegas in 2003, and working my way up in kitchens, I vowed that if I ever grew to a position of influence, I would do my part to expand beer on the Las Vegas Strip.” And so she has, now installing beer menus throughout Mandalay Bay, conducting staff training and tasting sessions, planning beer events and generally “fighting the good fight for flavor!” she says. Nevada’s first female certified cicerone, Johnson is also an MBAA beer steward, founder of the Las Vegas chapter of Barley’s Angels and a graduate of numerous courses, including the Siebel Institute Master of Beer Styles & Evaluation.

ON ENCOUNTERING GENDER BIAS: “Blow it up with quality skills, knowledge, passion and work ethic. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, ‘This is not a bias to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.’”
NAMING NAMES: “Brewers Association craft beer program director Julia Herz is so knowledgeable, she could crush many a beer geek in her path. But she approaches every beer and culinary experience as a student. This humble approach to learning, coupled with her interminable passion, makes her a force of nature.”
NEVER A DULL MOMENT: “The aspect of beer that fascinates me the most is the seemingly limitless potential of flavor combinations and the communal, comfortable and friendly aspect of it. Beer can be dressed up or down—and it is always fun.”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Bridgeport IPA. “In the early ’90s in rural Washington, it was a revelation.”
DAY OFF: Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red IRA, at home, “with a cat in my hand.”
GUILTY PLEASURE: Olympia Lager. “Washington forever!”
SUMMERTIME SIPPER: Firestone Walker Easy Jack or Pivo Pils.
BEST LOCAL: Big Dog’s War Dog Imperial IPA.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: Bell’s Two Hearted IPA.


Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Tiana Wrightnour

“Hitman” – Las Vegas and Arizona, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

➜ Aren’t you just loving those Speakeasy Ales & Lagers around town—Big Daddy IPA and Prohibition Ale? Wrightnour couldn’t agree more. The Florida native promotes Speakeasy’s brews in Las Vegas and Arizona, hosting tasting, tap takeovers, beer dinners, bar crawls, launch parties and participating in beer festivals. “Most importantly,” she points out, “I build relationships with colleagues, buyers, customers and everyone who is a craft beer lover.” Wrightnour says she was at a loss after graduating from UNLV, unsure of her direction. “I started cocktail serving and bartending at craft beer bars in Las Vegas to pay off my student loans and really liked the beer scene and community. Having the top beer sales at both of my jobs, I was asked by a friend, ‘Why don’t you be a supplier rep for a brewery and sell beer?’” And when the opportunity presented itself, Wrightnour made the jump. “I’m glad I did.” Wrightnour is a Cicerone-certified beer server. GoodBeer.com.

GETTING SERIOUS: “The biggest challenge I face is earning the respect from people in the industry and having people take me seriously. I am a very strong woman and strive to accomplish the goals that I set for myself.”
YOU CAN CATCH ME AT: The Great American Beer Festival in Denver. “If I have the choice and opportunity, you will see me there every year. It’s like a beer geek’s Christmas!”
THAT OL’ RISING TIDE: “There are craft breweries popping up every day. It’s awesome that people are turning their passions into reality. It really is a new era for beer.”

In Her Sixer …

GATEWAY BEER: Lost Coast 8 Ball Stout.
DAY OFF: “Plain ol’ Guinness.”
GUILTY PLEASURE: Tart of Darkness from the Bruery.
SUMMER SIPPER: “Speakeasy’s Baby Daddy is really hitting this spot.”
BEST LOCAL: Tenaya Creek Haulin’ Oats Oatmeal Stout on nitro.
BEST OUT OF MARKET: Avery’s Liliko’i.

DTLV

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