While brewing is often seen as a male- dominated profession, two women working at the top at their craft in Edmonton’s core are proving otherwise.
Teaghan Mayers is the head brewer at Campio Brewing Co., which opened in October of 2019. Just down the street in the historic H.V. Shaw Building, Lisa Davis is the head brewer at the nearly decade-old Yellowhead Brewery.
“Everyone is super, super nice and welcoming, and no one ever makes you feel weird for being a woman in the industry,” says Mayers. “There’s a lot of diversity in people who make beer these days, which is great for the product because more diversity leads to better ideas.”
Mayers has an undergraduate degree in marine biology. She was pursing her master’s in microbial ecology, only to be fascinated by food microbiology and the microbiome of kimchi. After picking up home brewing, Mayers enrolled in a brewing program. Working at breweries in B.C., she went from volunteer to production manager to head brewer in nearly two years. She joined Campio as head brewer two months before it opened.
Mayers enjoys playing with different microbes and putting recipes together. But she finds passion in other aspects of brewing as well. “Some days I’ve got Carhartts on and I’m brewing and making beer, adding fruit to beer, doing barrel work and stuff like that. Then some days, I’m doing budget spreadsheets, doing production schedules,” she says. “You do a little bit of everything, which I enjoy about the job.”
Davis had experience home brewing. She planned on furthering her education in science when she got a job at Yellowhead Brewery in May 2016 as a growler bar server. Working in close quarters with the head brewer, Davis expressed interest in production. She soon had general production duties before moving into cellaring duties on her way to becoming the head brewer.
Davis says brewing is the “marriage” of science and creativity. She uses her creative side to develop recipes and her scientific side to master the technical components. “There’s a lot of science in brewing. There’s a lot of technical things,” she says. “I really love the technical aspects of the job as well as doing fun things like small-batch brewing and trying to be creative.”
Mayers believes the trade work in brewing leads people to see it as a male industry, but it’s not as male-dominated as perceived. “It’s less so than it used to be,” she says. “A lot of women are getting into it and a lot more women are getting into drinking craft beer as well.” And the industry is open to diversity. “The brewing community is a really great group of people who just want to make a really good product that brings people joy,” says Mayers.
The gender disparity has been a challenge for Davis at times. “It can feel like a boys club and sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’re on the outside of that,” she says. But Davis surrounds herself with supportive people. “There’s a lot of great people who don’t make you feel that way. So you just have to find those people and make relationships with them.”
What used to be a male’s beverage in a male’s industry has evolved and continues to evolve. “People are really open minded to learning it’s not that way,” says Davis. “You just have to find the right people who have the right mindset and have the same values that you do.”