Women in Beer: Cat Wiest, Head Brewer of Seabright Brewery
We had the pleasure of meeting Cat Wiest at the Pink Boots Society 10th Anniversary Festival! Her Jasmine Pale Ale with Glitter drew us in because of the sparkle, but the flavor profile of the beer itself kept us coming back for more! The glitter she adds to her beer is completely safe to consume and just as dazzling as her upbeat personality! We honestly can’t wait to make it up to Seabright Brewery one day to have more of her beers! Learn more about Cat, where she got the inspiration for her glitter beers, and what advice she has for other women trying to get in the industry!
How long have you been a professional brewer?
A little over 5 years
Where or who do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere! I love doing “market research” and tasting new beers from outside of my immediate network, this includes both drinking beer and talking about beer. My brews are influenced by current trends and styles (although you won’t see me making an “East Coast IPA” – no offense), as well as throwbacks. When I’m making a one off beer, which is often, I’ll use current events, upcoming holidays, or the brew date itself for inspiration. Most of my beers have unique stories of where they came from or what they are representing. Those stories don’t always make it on to the menu, so if you ever find yourself in my brewhouse, just ask! I also look to nature, and our local seasonal agriculture for new ingredient ideas – if it grows, it grows nearby.
What is your favorite part about being a brewer?
I really enjoy experimenting, and the best part about the job I have right now is that I have the freedom to experiment and make new brews all year long. I LOVE when someone who says “I don’t really like beer” likes my beer. There is nothing better than when someone who claims they don’t like IPA’s and will taste mine anyway and not make a terrible face – maybe even order a pint. There is a beer for everyone, I love it when it’s my beer. When I take my sparkly beer to special events and festivals, the best part is watching everyone react when they see it. I work really hard, and it’s exhausting (understatement). When a customer gets enthusiastic about something I’ve made, it’s totally worth it.
Share an interesting brewing experience.
A few months ago I got out of my brew house and went to Berkeley. The Rare Barrel was hosting our bay area chapter of the Pink Boots Society for a blending day. We each did tastings of a few base beers and voted on our favorite/s. This was truly interesting – I had no idea how little I knew about sours and blending! After we voted on our base, we split into groups to add different flavor extracts. Each team submitted their favorite blend, and as a group we voted on the best one. We ended up with a dry tart golden sour with chamomile, rose bud, and coriander. We called it “Solidarity Forever”. The beer was delicious, and that was one hell of a cool day.
Is there anyone in particular you would like to do a collaboration with and why?
I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with many brewers over the last few years, and I always take away something new. Dream collab? There are so many brewers that I respect and admire! I’d love to go to San Diego and brew with Laura Ulrich. She has a lot to offer in terms of experience, knowledge, and all around awesomeness, and I’d like to see how she operates in the brewhouse. I’d also like to spend a day (preferably making or drinking beer) with Lee Lord at Cambridge Brewing Company. I’ve never met her in person, so this probably makes me sound like a creep. We’re FB friends though! (like that makes it less weird). We both love sharks and hockey and beer and metal and athletic endeavors, soooooo, I want to brew with her because I know we will have a smashing good time (and there is no way the beer that came out of it wouldn’t be awesome). Your move, Lee.
What style of beer do you enjoy making the most?
Big, dry, hoppy red ales! I make a San Jose Sharks tribute beer called “Blood in the Water”, and it really fits the bill for my ideal brew. Generally my pale ales have very basic grain bills, and brewing reds lets me get a little crazy. Of course all that malt needs to be balanced by the perfect hop, so, reds are my jam. After that I like making high and dry resinous IPA’s. I’ll stop there because I am about to ramble on about all the beer I like making.
Have you met many other women brewers?
YES! We have a large and active Pink Boots Society chapter in the bay area, which I am proud to have been a part of for years now. We have several ladies in production. Through the Pink Boots Society I have been able to meet other women beer professionals all over the country. I might be the only female brewer in my town, but I know we have big numbers out there, and I like it.
We are obsessed with your glitter beer, tell us more about your inspiration.
I too, am obsessed with it! It really makes me happy. Credit here goes to Alex of Three Weavers brewing in LA. She brought a sparkle beer to an event I attended and I just went out of my head. In no way am I exaggerating when I say that everything I thought I knew about the world changed forever. She generously gave me a few tips and sent me off with “the world is your sparkly oyster”. Indeed it is!
What advice would you give other women that are trying to get into the industry?
I’ll start with the advice I would give ANYONE going into the industry: pay attention, work hard, and be safe. The extra advice that I have for women is this: Often times we work harder or go the extra mile when we feel we need to prove ourselves. By all means, prove yourself! But don’t let yourself be exploited. If you are doing the extra work, make sure your pay increases accordingly. If others consistently leave their work up to you, confront them about it. Work hard, kick ass, but don’t be taken advantage of.
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