Piper Gladwill Finds The Perfect Chemistry Brewing Beer
Fort George Brewery’s Brewster Piper Gladwill Talks About Finding Her Passion For Craft Beer
Women have been brewing beer since ancient times taking on the name brewster, a beer master, and beer goddesses in Pharaonic Egypt and Ancient Sumeria, Hathor and Ninkasi, respectively were worshiped for as the inventors of beer and the “queens of drunkenness and dance,” according to historians.
It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that men, particularly monks, took over brewing beer and taverns to entertain travelers. Women started to get pushed out from behind the bar and crafting the sweet to bitter brews and stopped drinking beer. The final shove came with the Industrial Revolution. Machines rolled around finally taking beer out of the home and taverns and into mass production brewing women out of the industry for nearly a century or more.
While women disappeared from brewing during the late 19th and for most of the 20th century, they are beginning to make their way back into brewing and taverns, thanks to the rise of the craft brew movement.
Women visiting Astoria, Oregon can get a close up view of brewing on a tour with Piper Gladwill, resident brewer at Fort George Brewery (1483 Duane St, Astoria; 503-325-7468; FortGeorgeBrewery.com), or get a sample of brews on EDEN Pacific Northwest’s Craft Brew Trail Tour. Piper takes women into the brewing tomes for a close up view of the beer making process during a half hour tour followed by a tasting of several of the brewery’s 21 ales on tap, made right there on site.
“It’s fun. It’s neat to see it and then taste it,” says Piper.
EDEN PNW is offering a women’s tour of the Northern Oregon Coast Craft Brew Trail, October 4, starting at 11 a.m. at the Shilo Inn Oceanfront, 30 North Promenade in Seaside, Oregon. The four and a half hour beer tasting tour that will take women on Piper’s tour at Fort George Brewery where they will taste the brews and enjoy lunch. The tour will then make its way back down the coast stopping off at McMenamins Sand Trap Inn in Gearheart and ending at the Seaside Brewery Company.
This year’s tour is sold out, so keep your eye on EDEN PNW and the Northern Oregon Coast Craft Brew Trail tour in 2015.
Becoming A Brewster
Four and a half years ago, Piper took her love of brewing from her home to her profession, when she accepted a waitressing job at the Fort George Brewery.
Piper, 32, recently had moved with her three kids to the coastal town at the mouth of the Columbia River, where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, successfully journeyed over the Rocky Mountains with the assistance of Shoshone Indian Sacagawea and appeared at the mouth of the river in 1806.
Oregon is known as a craft brewing state, ranking fourth in the US out of the top 10, following California that leads the pack at number one, reported USA Today.
Following her passion, Piper worked her way up from being a waitress for a year and a half to being a line cook before weaseling her way into the beer making where she found her calling as a brewer, she says.
One of the few women brewers in the Northern Oregon coast, Piper is responsible for crafting the brewery’s one-off beers operating the “Sweet Virginia System,” the original 8.5 BBL system that kicked off the brewery in 2007.
Piper started brewing at home for three years before she started working at Fort George Brewery.
Up until that time she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with her life. Born in Los Angeles and raised there until her family relocated to the McMinnville area in Oregon when she and her brothers started high school, she toyed with business and art taking classes in accounting, art, and business at the local community college, but it didn’t quite strike her fancy. Then she found brewing.
The craft brewing scene was catching rapid fire and growing. A beer lover, it struck her passion with its creative and technical aspects.
“Math and science were always my favorite in school, so it kind of encompasses both of those,” says Piper. “It’s ever growing. You can’t ever know it all so you are constantly learning.”
The Best Kind Of Chemistry
“It’s a pretty fun work environment,” says Piper about working at Fort George Brewery. “They let us be creative and let us make our own recipes.”
Beer is complex, says Piper. It’s that complexity that she loves so much.
“It’s like having a chemistry set sometimes,” she says.
“Beer is complex. It gives you so much opportunity to make something different. You can take a recipe and change it minutely and it changes the beer extensively,” says Piper.
“I just did a collaboration brew and they called it Double Downy SB and that turned out really well. It has a really nice finish,” continues Piper.
Don’t ask Piper which beer is her favorite. It depends on her mood of the day.
“There are a lot of good brews. The flavors change. Some days I’m just like, ‘This best beer ever!’ and some days I’m like, ‘No I want this beer.’”
She admitted that she falls back on the Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale, when she can’t make up her mind what to drink.
Piper is excited to see more women joining the craft brewing movement.
Recently, the Fort George Brewery had another aspiring woman brewer interning for the summer, says Piper, who is excited to see more women in craft brewing.
“I see more and more all of the time,” says Piper citing women’s historical importance in brewing beer. “I’ve met several women in brewing. They are popping up a little more on the coast than they used to be. I think that’s a good thing.”
For more information, visit EDENPNW.com or FortGeorgeBrewery.com.
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