BABE #78: HAYLEY BROWN,
Assistant Brewer @ 81Bay Brewing Co.
Hayley was nominated to be featured by her coworker, Briant, who had only the loveliest things to say about her. Some notables include, "She's a complete babe who hustles everyday and has been with us since we opened our doors. Our business would not be possible without her. From slinging full kegs, to driving the forklift like a pro, to learning the mechanics of brewing and creating amazing beers for people to enjoy - she's my inspiration for a female hustler." *Heart eyes emoji.* We're excited to welcome another kickass Tampa Bay area Babe to the fam. Thanks for the recommendation, Briant, and for chatting with us, Hayley!
Hometown: Spring Hill, FL
Current city: Tampa, FL
Alma mater: N/A
First job ever: Barista
Hustle: Assistant Brewer @ 81Bay Brewing Co.
How do you spend your free time?
You'll usually find me out at a brewery with my fiancé and friends, or checking out local beer/music/craft festivals and markets. And I love my TV shows, of course!
Must-have item in your purse?
Hand lotion! Working with chemicals all day takes its toll.
Go-to coffee order?
Quad Americano with cream.
Go-to adult beverage?
Beer, of course! Liquor-wise, however, I'm a sucker for anything with gin, cucumber and/or basil.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
That's tough, but I'd have to say Pad Thai.
What’s one thing you wish you knew more about?
Tell us about your hustle:
I recently officially became an Assistant Brewer at 81Bay Brewing Co. I spent the first 6 months familiarizing myself with the facility and equipment/machinery and how a brewery functions from grain to glass. Brew day preparation involves building the recipes, weighing out grain and hops, milling, yeast harvesting and filling the brew liquor (water) tanks among other things. Keg washing/filling, fermentation vessel cleaning, filtering and equipment maintenance are also a large part of being a brewer.
What does your typical workday look like?
It depends on where we are in production! There are brew days, filter days, kegging days and cleaning days. But I'm always cleaning. Cleaning is about 80% of brewing!
When did you become interested in the beer/brewing industry? What draws you to it?
My fiancé and I started brewing at home only a year ago, and it really just lit a fire under my ass. I've always had a ton of interests, but nothing ever jumped out at me as much as home brewing did. I just got this instant feeling like it was where I belonged. I was very unhappy with the career path that I fell into at the time (customer service supervisor at a pharmacy - gross,) and my fiance encouraged me to pursue brewing 100%. Through brewing, I've finally had the confidence to take control of my life and happiness.
What is your work environment/office culture like?
It's the best. We work hard and play harder. We are all kindred spirits. There are a lot of early mornings and late nights, but we always keep a good balance, which is so important.
How would you say being a woman has affected your professional experience, specifically in brewing?
There have been a couple of occasions where I felt like I wasn't being taken seriously, and had to really assert myself in conversations during events and such. I also usually get a surprised reaction from both men and women when they hear what I do... but then they think it's rad and are usually super supportive.
Do you ever feel like you’re at a disadvantage in a stereotypically male career path?
I get this question a lot, and so far I haven't felt that way at all. I’m sure there may have been some hesitation when it comes to my physical limitations, which I understand. On my first day, I couldn't lift a 55 pound grain bag over my shoulder more than once. But I worked hard and didn't give up, and within a short amount of time I was able to do everything the guys can!
Do you see the gender ratio in brewing evolving?
I do! I have been seeing a lot more women on the production side of the brewing community, and there are a few breweries here in the Tampa area with female brewers. Women were the original brewers after all!
The Tampa brewing scene is pretty huge. What is your local brewing community like?
Ir's amazing! Everyone is so supportive of one another, and it never feels like a competition.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
I touched on this a little bit already, regarding the physical demands of the job. I would make a point to do certain tasks myself even if it took me a little longer or was a bit of a struggle. I often get asked if I need help - which I always appreciate - but it is important that I am able to do things on my own in the event that help isn't around. That being said, I'm not afraid to ask for help when it's needed because there are a lot of ways to get injured in a brewery, and of course no one wants that.
What are some perks of working for a local brewery in comparison to a more corporate setting?
It's like night and day. I am lucky enough to be working in a field that is not only my job, but also my hobby. I get to make my own small beer batches and go to festivals and events for free, which is how I'd be spending my free time either way. I came from a very corporate environment and it's true that in those roles, you can feel expendable and like you're just a number. My time in the corporate world was pretty intense (and just plain not fun.) Like I said before, that balance is very important.
Similarly, what makes 81Bay Brewing Company stand out from other brewing companies?
81Bay encourages all of us to chase our dreams and also truly gives their employees the opportunity to do so. For myself specifically, they took a chance on someone who really didn't have brewing experience but they were able look beyond that and see my potential. We are all young, hardworking, ambitious and growing with the company, and I think that's what makes us different.
On that note, who are your favorite other breweries? Specifically in the Tampa/Florida area?
It's always changing as all the breweries are constantly evolving and coming out with new things! But with that being said, I tend to frequent Cycle Brewing (St. Petersburg, FL) and Hidden Springs (Tampa, FL.) I also have to give a shoutout to Marker 48 Brewing in my hometown!
Do you feel like your previous work has contributed to your success in your current role? Why or why not?
I do. All of my jobs have required a lot of attention to detail. Having a pharmacy background helped a lot with proper sanitation techniques and chemical handling.
How do you maintain a substantial taste and knowledge for good beer?
Just by drinking a lot - ha! But no seriously, we do weekly quality control and tastings to train and keep our palates fresh.
What kind of support system do you have behind you and your work?
I'm grateful for the support from my incredibly wonderful and loving fiance - I literally wouldn't be where I am without him. It was very scary to leave a career I was in for 5 years and start fresh. And of course my friends, family and my brew crew family.
What’s your favorite thing about your job? Least favorite?
My favorite thing is being able to use my creativity to part of something that brings people together, makes them happy, and helps them have fun and relax! My least favorite is that it can get pretty dirty! Being covered from head to toe in beer and yeast all day isn't the best, especially when you forget a spare change of clothes.
What would you say is the skill you most need to improve in your work?
I work with a lot of different tools, so in order to remember them, I've made up my own nicknames for them. I'm currently trying to learn the ACTUAL names.
What are your goals for the future?
To become a head brewer within two years is my current short-term goal! Although I've been on quite the fast track, I still have a ton to learn. More long-term, though, I would like to make strides towards opening my own small brewery and coffee roastery with my fiancé.
What would your advice be for a Babe trying to break into the industry?
Confidence is key, and you have to believe in yourself first.
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