This is the second interview in a series spotlighting coworkers who make Bell’s the brewery it is.
Have you ever thought about the journey our beer takes from the brewery to your refrigerator or even from the bar to your pint glass? There’s a lot of potential for beer to be damaged along the way. One of our Field Quality Managers, Bridget works to make sure our beer is as good as our brewers intended it. We sat down with Bridget to learn more about what quality means for beer and how she protects it in the market.
Hey, Bridget, thanks for sitting down with us today. How did you get involved with craft beer?
I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and there was a bottle shop in our town. It was around 2005, and we were just starting to get excited about craft beer. I was curious; I’ve always been pretty adventurous when it came to food and trying new things. So, I just, you know, picked up a couple of bottles here and there and tried different things. At first, it was definitely more of a hobby.
During that time, I was in college for Biology minoring in Chemistry. I had no idea that there were opportunities for someone like me to work in the beer industry. I had just never really thought about it. Shortly after graduation, there was a job posting for a lab tech at a nearby, regional brewery. I applied and, to my surprise, was hired. I ran microbiological tests, looking for beer spoilers like lactobacillus and pediococcus, and stewarded a sensory panel, which was really, really fun. It was a crash course for me. I learned so much about beer on the job.
Before I worked at a brewery, I thought I didn’t like IPAs, that they just weren’t for me. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on what I didn’t like about them. Then I started to taste really fresh IPAs on the daily during our tasting panel and I realized I do really like IPAs — I was just drinking a lot of out of code, old IPAs. I didn’t know before working in beer that it had a shelf life.
Before I worked at Bell’s, I thought beer was like wine or liquor — it didn’t get worse with time. What a wonderful awakening that was when I started drinking fresh beer! A lot of people don’t realize all of the factors that go into preserving the quality of beer. How do you do this in your current role?
My job as a field quality manager is really a consumer advocate. I care about the end consumer who’s drinking our beer and making sure that they are getting, you know, the beer that they are expecting, or even better than what they’re expecting. My philosophy is that sales and marketing gets consumers to try our beer, but good quality is what keeps them coming back for more.
I’m pretty passionate about wanting to protect the integrity of what has gone into creating our beer. I really do think that brewers are artists and beer can be easily misrepresented if not taken care of after it leaves the brewery. I meet with a lot of our partners to educate them on best practices when it comes to storing and serving our beer, including cleaning draft lines. We’re really thankful for our partners who take great care of our beer.
What are some of the common risk factors for beer when it leaves our brewery?
Time and temperature are two major culprits. Time will inevitably lead to beer staling, but keeping it cold will slow down the damage caused by aging. Heat speeds up the oxidation process, which is a fancy way of saying “staling”, much like the aging process of fresh fruits and vegetables, or rust.
Another one is sunlight. I always struggle with this because I love to sit out on a patio and have a beer, which is usually in a clear glass, unless you’re maybe in Germany drinking out of a big, ceramic stein. When people talk about their beer being “skunked,” that skunky aroma comes from UV light striking the beer. Oxidation takes time because it’s an aging process, but a beer can become light-struck in seconds.
Did you see your job as like, kind of on the front lines protecting?
Yeah, for sure. A former coworker would always say: You work for the beer. I work for the beer, but I also work for our consumers. I’m very passionate about good beer, and I want people to experience the same thing I do when I have a Bell’s beer. When I have a really fresh and delicious Two Hearted, I want everyone to have the same experience with a world class beer.
There’s something so special about Two Hearted that’s just perfect. What makes our beer world class?
To me, I think of it as setting the standard by making beer that inspires other brewers. There’s a level of integrity. At the end of the day, we brew beer that customers want to drink and enjoy, as well as enhance their life. And I am very glad to be able to be a part of it. Even before I worked at Bell’s, I appreciated the brewery. I wanted to work here because I love Two Hearted.
Inspired Brewing has been our motto for years. What inspires you?
I want to share joy. That’s the best way I can explain it. I know the things that bring me joy. I love experiencing a book, movie, song, or beer and I want to share that with everyone that I come across because I think that it makes the world better. If we can spread joy and to me making sure that in my job that our beer is being experienced at its very best is spreading joy. I am proud to be a part of that.