Everyone asks me the same question when they hear that I’m pursuing a career in the craft beer industry, “Don’t you need a beard for that?”
My answer is a resounding “No” followed by a blank stare and awkward silence. There are actually a lot of women in this industry, and I got to talk with one of them recently!
Everyone, meet Jessica Reiser, Co-owner of Burial Beer in Asheville’s South Slope Brewing District. She was kind enough to take time out of her cramped schedule to talk with me on the phone. But enough about me, let’s talk about Jessica!
Jessica started Burial in June of 2013 with two other co-owners. She handles the marketing and PR, event planning, HR, and accounting for the brewery. This trio moved to Asheville from Seattle, where they had been beer bloggers, gaining an in depth knowledge of the industry and beer styles. They spent a lot of time visiting other breweries and taking note of what resonated with them, what styles they wanted to make, and what experience they wanted their patrons to have. Their head brewer also gained several years of commercial brewing experience before the move.
The style that stood out to all of them, and Jessica’s favorite, is the Saison style. Today about 40% of Burial’s taps are saison taps! This Belgian, fermentation style is growing in popularity, which is great for Jessica and Burial. So great, in fact that Burial just expanded their one barrel South Slope brewery to a 10 barrel system, and they will also open a new 30 barrel farmhouse brewery off site next spring! This new facility will allow Burial to feature more flavor options for their saison-loving patrons as well as to begin canning and distributing down the road.
I asked Jessica what obstacles she’s faced that are specific to being a woman in the brewing industry. The hardest part, she said, was juggling being a mom to two young children, ages one and three. She was quick to point out that this was more specific to owning a business of any sort, not just a brewery. While her husband faces the same work/life balance struggle, this age in her children’s lives is mommy-focused. With the two expansion projects in full swing, things tend to stay hectic for her these days. She said she is looking forward to the near future when the dust settles and Burial can get back to business as usual. She is also hopeful that she’ll have more employees to delegate to in the not-so-distant future.
Good luck to Jessica and Burial! We are excited for your success! If you want to learn more about Burial, hop on over to their website http://www.burialbeer.com/