Archive for February, 2023


Frequently, for Christmas, Father’s Day, or birthdays, I’m the recipient of a beer book, a beer-themed T-shirt, or both. A couple of Christmases ago, I unwrapped a T-shirt that proclaimed “The Persuit of Hoppiness” and a very interesting book: A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN THE BREWHOUSE: A FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF ALEWIVES, BREWSTERS, WITCHES AND CEOS, by Tara Nurin (Chicago Review Press: 2021).

The T-shirt has become well-worn and the book is well-read. There are under-linings, stars in the margins, and on the inside front cover the numbers of pages to be reread. People often think that the main role of women in craft brewers is limited to the administrative offices, doing a lot of paperwork, or the front of the house, slinging pints and taking food orders. But that ain’t so. Since Sumerian times, brewing beer and owning breweries has been a major occupation for women. At least until the Industrial Revolution and the later control of breweries by mega breweries, more and more of them controlled by international corporations.

But since the craft beer movement began in the later 1970s, more and more of the brewing of beer has been in the hands of brewsters, that’s the term for women brewers. Unfortunately, their importance has not been widely known — until now. A Woman’s Place … is a very lively and important book, especially about the last half-century of craft brewing.

I finished the book last spring, just before I began my Upper Peninsula Circ-ALE trail, interviewing brewery people for Upper Ale Trails, which is now in the editing stage. And, my eyes opened by A Woman’s Place, I was not surprised to meet so many women. Twelve craft breweries are co-owned by wife-husband teams; two solely by women. Four women are lead or co-brewers.

The first brewster I talked with last June is also one of the pioneer brewers in the Upper Peninsula. In the mid-90s, when Lark Ludlow, along with her brother, opened the combined gift shop and restaurant at Tahquamenon Falls, one of the premier tourist attractions in the Upper Peninsula, she decided that she would serve craft beer at the restaurant. She developed recipes for a range of ales, including one of the first blueberry ales served in the UP. “I thought that having beer made a few dozen feet away, along with a meal, would be a nice way for people finish a daytrip to the Falls.” When Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub opened, not many people weren’t familiar with craft beer. “I used to go from table to table carrying a tray of little glasses filled with our beer and offer samples to people,” she remembered.

One of the most experienced brewsters in the Upper Peninsula is Erica Tieppo of Upper Peninsula Brewing Company in Negaunee. A young woman in her thirties, she has been around the beer world for some time. A native of the greater Detroit area, she studied at the prestigious Siebel Institute in Chicago and worked at breweries in lower Michigan, North Carolina, and Colorado before coming to Negaunee. Here she could establish a new brewery from the ground up. AND, when she wasn’t being a brewster, she could be a musher — racing sled dogs is one of her hobbies. She’s also an aficionado of classical Renaissance music.

Another Detroiter, Lydia Novitsky had moved to the tiny UP village of Alpha (just off of Highway 2), because she wanted a change. She saw an ad asking for help at the Alpha Michigan Brewing Company — NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY “I was tired of my other job, I liked craft beer, and I thought it would be exciting to learn something new.” The day I visited, she was on her own, brewing an IPA. “They ran out of beer on the Fourth of July the first year the brewery opened,” she told me. “So I’m making sure there is plenty ready when the holiday comes in a couple of weeks.” She’s a fast learner. By the fall, she had become the lead brewer.

When Sarah Rusch first started dating her now-husband Kris, she didn’t realize that she’d become a craft brewery co-owner, administrator, front-of-the-house host, and brewer. Kris had long wanted to open a brewery in his native Upper Peninsula and chose Menominee, along the Wisconsin-Michigan border. Together, the couple opened Three Bridge Brewing. “Before I met Kris, I didn’t know much about beer; he was my teacher.” She helped him with the brewing — when she wasn’t working the front of the house or doing paperwork in the back office — and now brews entire batches by herself.

If you’re taking the Yooper Ale Trail on a vacation, do stop by these four breweries and say hello to the brewsters. Then, if it’s a warm day, the brewery patio isn’t too crowded and there aren’t many mosquitoes around, you can sit quietly in the sun, sip one of these brewsters’ beers, and, if you’ve brought a copy along, read a few pages of A Woman’s Place is in the Brewhouse.



Bombs Away Beer Company, 9801 Acoma Road SE, Albuquerque, NM, 87123


For me, one of the most pleasing recent developments in the craft beer movement is the addition of lagers to the beer lists of many breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms. Not the pale, bland North American lagers produced by the mega brewers, most of whom are owned by international corporations — but European lagers that have long been either absent or hard to find. There are many kinds of pilsners (Czech, German, Italian and even Australian and more), helles, Dortmunder export, Vienna lagers, Dunkels, bocks, Oktoberfests, and more.

Whenever I enjoy lunch at a brewpub, I always order one of the lagers on tap. They are usually fairly light-bodied, not much above 5 percent alcohol by volume, and a really good complement to a sandwich, salad, or soup.

This week, my beer drinking friend and I enjoyed lunch and lagers at Albuquerque’s Bombs Away Beer Company, which had been founded by John Degnaro in 2016, after he’d retired from the United States Airforce, where he’d served as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician.

The military theme of the brewpub first becomes noticeable as you drive up to the building. The name of the brewery displayed on the wall is in the stencil style that was sprayed onto wooden boxes used by the military. Beside the outdoor patio is parked a military vehicle and trailer. Inside, a bomb hangs above the bar and flags from the divisions of the United States Armed Services hang from the ceiling. There is a small sign near the bar inviting patrons to pay it forward and buy a beer for a veteran.

The military motif carries over to the names of the beers: S.A.F., Mk2, Actuator, Condition Red, All Clear!, and others.

We ordered paninis from the small menu and two of the four lagers on tap and while we waited for our lunch, chatted with Tyler David, the lead brewer. He’d first discovered craft beer when he went with friends to Albuquerque’s LaCumbre Brewing Taproom. But when he began working at Bombs Away, first at the front of the house and then in the brewhouse, he discovered the wonder of lagers.

He noted that lagers had become popular because they represented an alternative to the strongly hopped, often higher-alcohol IPAs and the fuller-bodied dark ales. Younger people are discovering that they enjoy beers that are smooth, clear, and crisp. That was certainly true of the lager I’d chosen: Proximity Pilsner. “The name suggests something close and accessible. The perle hops give a good pilsner flavor when they interact with New Mexico’s water.” I also tried a taster glass of Ten Seconds to Helles,” named after a 1950s movie about a bomb demolition squad. The malts contributed bready notes. Although it was sweeter (but not too much so) than the Pilsner, it had a clean, crisp, dry finish. The Ariana hops added fruity, floral notes.

My buddy had chosen High Speed, Low Drag Lager, an amber colored Vienna style lager, with caramel notes. It was a smooth, easy drinking beer, with caramel notes, with a gentle hop zing contributed by the Saaz and Chinook Hops. We finished our tasting with Condition Red Lager. The name suggests alarm, but the beer itself was quite gentle, malt forward with caramel and toffee flavors.

These were beers to return to — smooth and flavorful, light bodied, and with a gentle hop zing. We ordered some crowlers (lagers, of course) to take home, thanked Tyler and Christy, the hostess, and assured them that we’d be back again.

We will.

NB: Many of the beers are listed as GR; gluten reduced with the addition of clarex

NB: The taproom is completely wheelchair accessible.