Beer tastes are evolving — so is the industry's demographic makeup - Florida Politics

Beer tastes are evolving — so is the industry’s demographic makeup

Industry leaders are keenly aware that as craft beer popularizes, related businesses should be mindful of diversity.

Women in beer were celebrated on Tuesday in the capital city at Hearth & Soul, a fitting location as its founder and owner Susie BuschTransou is the daughter of August Anheuser Busch III, who led Anheuser-Busch Companies for quite some time during the 20th century and early into the new millennium. She co-owns with her husband Tri-Eagle sales, an Anheuser-Busch, craft beer and specialty drinks wholesaler serving North and North-Central Florida.

From brewmasters to sales specialists to distribution and retail positions, Busch-Transou said women are in demand in the beer industry, a trend reminiscent of the drink’s roots in ancient history, when women handled the beermaking, Busch-Transou said.

Flanking Busch-Transou was Cathy Steen, the chief operating officer of Grayton Beer Company in South Walton, known for its flagship product, the “Beach Blonde Ale.”

“When we have more diverse workplaces, we have better product innovation,” Steen said. “… Beer in particular.”

Steen transitioned to the craft beer industry after a career stint in the wine and spirits sector that dates back more than 25 years. She launched Belvedere Vodka in the U.S. — the only woman among a team of six. She later worked in what she described as a “large conglomerate” in the alcoholic beverage business.

When she got the job at Grayton, Steen said she noticed the brewers were donned in trendy, masculine and certainly relaxed clothing — so she went shopping to pick up her own wardrobe to reflect the Sunshine State and the craft beer industry.

This habit of picking up on trends carried over to her management style.

Rosé, Steen said, is a continued favorite among alcohol-flavor profiles. So, at the new job, she suggested the brewery begin to “cast a wider net” and focus on consumer-first tactics. In other words, tailor product development to fit unique consumer demands.

Enter Rose Gose, the newest Grayton brew that’s yet to hit shelves, but was available in excess Tuesday evening.

Half of the beer is named after the gose flavor, known for its salinity. It takes its name from the German town of Goslar, which housed an environment with high salt levels — similar to that of the Gulf of Mexico, Steen said, suggesting it’s a fitting flavor for brewery situated on Florida’s northwest coastline. The other half of the brew is named after the fruity, dry taste of rosé.

Much of discussion at the celebration Tuesday wasn’t gender specific. Women from local operations were present, and they were acknowledged, but a bulk of time was spent delving into the wonky details of not only making beer but pouring it and using proper glassware.

Though a recurring theme was that a diversified workforce leads to a diversified product, which appeals to more of the population. Steen brought up how the Brewers Association, which represents small and independent craft brewers across the U.S., announced the hiring of a diversity ambassador in April.

Steen added: “All of us that are in customer service, hospitality want to make sure that all consumers enjoy the products that we make, so every time we’re creating we need to make sure we think about all of our consumers in the heart of everything that we do.”

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