Casey Wollbrinck of Duck Foot Brewing is one of the few female brewers in the industry. Casey’s passion for brewing and the production process is what drove her to pursue a career in the craft beer industry. Since starting at Duck Foot, Casey shares that she’s had many learning experiences working alongside the other brewers at the company and has grown a lot as a brewer herself. We’re really excited to feature another female brewer that is local to San Diego in our growing “Women in Beer” series and had a great time getting to know Casey during our photoshoot with her.
Where or who do you get your inspiration from?
I am not overly involved in the recipe development at Duck Foot but I have recently been handed more control of the Small Batch and Cask beers that we release each month. While our Small Batch program is pretty simple it is extremely fun and a great avenue for creativity. I tend to pull inspiration from a couple of different areas but the main area is probably through following a variety of breweries on social media. I mostly follow breweries that strictly do barrel-aging and spontaneous fermentation, like the Rare Barrel, Wolves & People, Crooked Stave, etc., and while we don’t necessarily do much of that at Duck Foot, it is always interesting and inspiring to see what daring stuff those types of breweries are getting into. From the crazy fruit additions to working with a variety of interesting spices and herbs, I regularly find myself in awe of the level of creativity I see and desire attempting to make beers with a similar creative and daring flare. Another area in which I pull inspiration from is my own personal photography projects. Along with brewing I also do some of the photography for our Small Batch beer promotion. Every now and then my inspiration for what kind of beer to make stems from an idea I’ll get for how to use the ingredients in a photo.
Is there anyone in particular you would like to do a collaboration with?
Oh man, I would love to do a collaboration brew with a friend of mine Adrienne Ballou. Adrienne and I both graduated from the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis and both almost immediately switched from winemaking to brewing upon finishing school. Adrienne was a phenomenal brewer at Jester King in Austin, Texas for a couple of years and last year switched back to winemaking. Adrienne’s knowledge of wine, beer, barrel-aging, and spontaneous fermentation is out of control and getting to brew with her would be the bees knees. I would totally geek out to get to spend a day hanging with an old friend, absorbing heaps of knowledge from her, and making a killer beer, preferably some sort of a sour fruited saison or farmhouse ale.
What style of beer do you enjoy making the most?
Porters and Stouts are right up my alley in regards to beers I enjoy making, mostly because they are the beers that I enjoy drinking. I love the fact that both styles are pretty full bodied and typically quite smooth, but it is really their versatility that intrigues me. They can be smooth and sessionable or robust and boozy. Playing around with secondary additions and creating unique and complex flavor combinations with Stouts and Porters is one of the most interesting aspects to those beer styles. I love how well these styles lend to barrel-aging, how the beer can maintain its core qualities but also take on all the fun and funky characteristics from the barrel-aging process.
Have you met many other women brewers in San Diego?
There are quite a few women brewers here in San Diego and I feel pretty lucky to know and have worked with a number of them. I am not overly involved with the Pink Boots Society but I have been fortunate enough to have participated in two of the Women’s Collaboration Brew Days since I have lived down in San Diego and been a part of the industry. Its always a hoot to get together with other women brewers whether its doing collaboration brews, bumping into each other at festivals, or just out and about.
What advice would you give other women that are trying to get into the industry?
No matter what aspect of the industry you are looking to get into, whether it is brewing, sales, marketing, beertender-ing (if thats a word), or any other position, I think being a woman in the brewing industry is pretty rad. My sentiment mostly stems not necessarily from being a woman in the industry but truly from just being in the brewing industry. It is true that women are a minority in the industry but that really doesn’t register with me. I love my job, work my tail off, get to interact and work with the best people (guys and gals alike), and in the end I’m just making frosty beverages for the good people of San Diego to enjoy. In regards to giving advice for women looking to join the industry the bulk of my experience has been in production, so my advice is more pointed in that direction. My opinion may be a bit different than most women in the industry, but I really believe it takes a certain type of woman to want to work in production. The male dominated aspect of our industry can be challenging for some, but to be honest I have no problem with the male to female ratio and truly appreciate the fact that the majority of my direct co-workers are men. Men and women have different ways of thinking, problem solving, different ideas of efficiency, organization, and creativity, and I think all of those differences have pushed me to be a better co-worker and better brewer. If nothing else the overall humor level and typically easy going nature of men in the brewing industry is just a riot to be around for 8 plus hours a day.
So I guess my main advice to women trying to get into the industry is to be okay and even happy with being a minority in your work environment. Don’t view being a woman in production brewing as a means of needing to prove yourself against your male counterparts, but instead focus on all the reasons you have chosen this as your career path. Maybe its the endless opportunity for creativity that brewing provides, or the ability to make something that you can share with friends, family, and strangers alike, or possibly you love the extremely hands on and often exhausting physicality of the job. The whole being a woman thing shouldn’t even register amongst your co-workers as long as you are willing and able to do your job, if you ask questions when your unsure, don’t shy away from asking for help, work your butt off, maintain an attitude that makes the chaos of brewing enjoyable, and most importantly are passionate about your craft. Brewing is a blast and so fun to share with those around you. The community is so welcoming, tight-knit, and always in need of some more passionate people.
Try some of Casey’s brews at Duck Foot Brewing Company, located in the heart of Miramar and check out their:
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