Meet Brittany Brouhard - Brewer at Enegren Brewing Co.
Enegren Brewing Company was founded in 2010 by brothers Chris and Matt Enegren, and Joe Nascenzi. Focusing on German-style beers, especially lagers, Enegren opened their original 3-BBL commercial brewery in 2011. A short four years later, Enegren moved into their current 15-BBL facility and welcomed Lead Brewer Brittany Brouhard to their team. Brittany was kind enough to take some time out of her day, share a beer, and tell us a little about herself…
It should not matter (but society is its own beast) but how do people react to you as a brewer? Especially maybe some other males in the industry? Are they welcoming? Do they seem annoyed?
Society is a beast! It's been mixed reviews to be honest. When I first got into the industry, almost 5 years ago now, there was A LOT of eye rolling. But it didn't take long for me to prove I may be small but I'm mighty, and I can run with the boys. As far as "other males in the industry" goes, I think I have lucked out. I was the first female brewer in Ventura County, the key word there being Ventura County. We have an incredible group of craft brewers in this area, all with amazing talent and amazing hearts. Likewise, the Enegrens didn't even bat an eye at my gender when I awkwardly hit Chris up for a job at Irishfest a few years back. If you can do the work, you get the job around here. My biggest obstacles, believe it or not, have been maintenance people and delivery personal. I actually had one forklift repairman refuse to speak to me and asked me repeatedly to "go get the man, I need to talk to a man, you need a man to help you." The full story is quite comical. I was just up in Paso for the MBAA Tech Talk Conference, which was roughly 150 brewers who gathered together to talk shop and it was awesome. Society can say what they want, but brewers tend to have each other's back. I love this industry, and I love what I do. I'm a Brewer. Period.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced or heard of maybe from others female brewers in getting hired as a brewer?
I think a big challenge is the lifting requirement. You've got be able to throw some serious weight around. And that kind of muscle can take some time to build. For me, my stubbornness has been a challenge. To every female in the industry, or those looking to join, at some point there will come a day where you have will have to ask for help. It's going to happen, so just accept it now. Thanks to my friend at the forklift company, we poke fun of it now! Whenever I need help, and again I'm stubborn so that's not often, but when I do I will call on one of the guys and say "I need a man to help." I read something a while back that really hit home for me, it said "Our generation is becoming so busy trying to prove that women can do what men can do that women are losing their uniqueness. Women weren't created to do everything a man can do. Women were created to do everything a man can't do." I loved that.
At what point did you decide "I want to brew beer?
It started with home-brewing like most. My husband grew up around home-brew so when I bought him his first home-brew kit for Christmas it instantly became our "date-night-in" routine. We were then approached by some friends to help them open a brewery in Hawaii, contributing recipe design, brewing, and essentially providing sweat equity. We of course said yes, which started an insane year and a half of red eye flights and 48-hour brew weekends. It was an intoxicating and fun experience! We opened Kohola Brewery Christmas 2015, little over three years ago now, and won Bronze for our Lokahi German Pilsner at our first GABF in 2016. The rest is history. I got in with the Enegrens 3 years ago this April, and I'm working on my master’s degree in Engineering & Bioscience of Brewing and Distilling.
Are you a member of the Pink Boot Society?
I am a member of Pink Boots Society. I keep up on all their news and events, but due to our insane increase in production I have yet to make it down to L.A. for a meet up. We have a local women's beer loving group called Daughter's of Ninkasi in Ventura County who I try to devote any spare time too. They are fantastic! I will actually be joining them at Poseidon for the Pink Boots Brew Day in honor of International Women's Day March 8th.
What did you do for a career before you found the love to brew?
I was a nanny full-time after graduating college and taught boxing classes at night and on the weekends. So not a career per-say. I started out as an art major in college, but quickly realized I like making my own art, not what other people wanted me to make. So, I made a huge switch and ended up getting my B.S. in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine with a focus on Human Development, got out and decided I loved the science... hated touching people! So, when I discovered brewing it was like the best of both worlds for me, art and science.
What is unique about the beers you brew?
We brew clean, bright, traditional German-style lagers (and a few ales). Lagers are challenging to brew when done right. There is no room for mistakes. No off-flavor can be masked by an intense hop dosing. If you rush it, you ruin it. Chris and I also put our own flare on traditional German brewing methods from time to time, and this also makes us unique. For example, in our recent collaboration with Eppig Brewery, we did an "American Reinheitsgobot" beer where we used domestic ingredients paired with traditional German-style brewing techniques to make an American-style Festbier. This included a decoction mash and a recipe that followed the Reinheitsgebot "German Purity Law," which states you can only use four ingredients in your beer; water, barley, hops, and yeast. Notice that does not include corn, glitter, or unicorn parts. This is the second time we have done this, and the difference in domestic malts gives the beer a real kick! Most importantly, what makes our beer unique is that it tastes like beer. No theatrics here... Just beer flavored beer.
Is brewing beer for a brewery all that you thought and hoped it would be?
YES! And so much more. Cheesy I know, but I have discovered so much about myself through brewing beer. I've learned skills I never thought I could acquire. I've pushed my mind and body past limits I never thought were possible. I worked until my due date up on the brew stand (and my baby was still 3 days late) and discovered a whole new side to science that is intoxicating.
What was your first craft beer?
I'm not sure I can pinpoint my first "craft beer," but I can tell you I remember every minute of the first time I stepped foot into a craft brewery. We were new to Moorpark and had driven by this little hole-in-the-wall brewery for months. Never stopped to go inside, always ended up going to a sports bar instead. One day we drove by to see if anyone was inside, I got fed up and said that's it! I parked, and we went in. I remember meeting one of the owners at the bar, who talked our ear off for 30 minutes about how the place opened, while star-struck watching the brewer behind the pony wall working away. I ordered a glass of their Protector, an Imperial IPA, and immediately fell in love with craft beer. I walked out, got in the car and looked at my husband and said, wouldn't it be a trip to work for those guys someday, or even own our own brewery! He said that would probably never happen. That was Enegren Brewing Company, over 7 years ago... now we own a brewery in Maui, and I work for the Enegren's! ..