polos sneakers Celebrating the women behind New Jersey craft beer
The time has come to raise a glass to the women of New Jersey’s craft beer industry.
Beer has been booming across the state in recent years, but far too often there remains the misconception that the world of beer is a boys’ club.
The reality couldn’t be more different; one visit to a local brewery tasting room shows that on both sides of the bar, female beer lovers, brewers and entrepreneurs are key to this scene.
Check out our photos from a recent Women in Business event:Women in business support each other at the Jersey ShoreHere are three such breweries and our salute to the women working behind the scenes:
Torie Fisher andMelinda Gulsever, Backward Flag Brewing Co., Forked RiverAt Backward Flag Brewing Co. in Forked River, owner Torie Fisher and head brewer Melinda Gulsever have one goal for their beer: balance.
Owner, Torie Fisher and head brewer Melinda Gulsever talk craft beer at Backward Flag Brewing Company in Forked River (Photo: Brian Johnston)
(For an inside look at Backward Flag Brewing Co., watch the video above.)
“We’re always talking about how (with), say, a pepper beer or a spicy beer, it’s kind of easy to make a beer that say is like super spicy,” said Fisher. “But there’s a lot more skill that goes into making that beer balanced, where it’s going to have different levels and a complexity of flavors and a heat that can be appreciated by a lot of different people.”
Or, to put it in other words,”just because you make a strawberry blonde doesn’t mean that when you drink that beer it should taste like jam,” said Fisher.”It’s OK to have a little bit of a woman’s touch. It’s just nice and balanced and subtle.”
Owner Torie Fisher pours a flight glass at Backward Flag Brewing Company in Forked River (Photo: Brian Johnston)
A self described “Army brat,” Fisher was born in Louisiana and spent part of her youth in Hawaii. Army in 2003and turned 19 while on one of her two tours of duty in Iraq.
It was during her military service, she said, that she took her first steps towardlife in the beer industry.
“A guy in my unit was a home brewer and I just started out going to his house one day and learning how to brew,” she said.”That was a hobby that kind of turned into an obsession.”
Backward Flag Brewing Co. opened in an in industrial park on Challenger Way in Forked River two years ago, and the staff of about nine people is largely made up of veterans,
firemen andpolice officers; Gulsever serves in the Army National Guard.
Service uniforms hang on the walls of Backward Flag Brewing Company in Forked River. (Photo: Brian Johnston)
“You definitely get an understanding that goes back and forth across the bar,” said Fisher.”A lot of our customers are also cops, firemen, veterans, so when they come in there’s always at least one person behind the bar that they can talk to that’s kind of walked in their shoes, seen the things that they’ve seen and can talk to them on an equal level.
“That’s a fantastic thingbecause for a lot of people like us that’s what you’re looking for when you go some place, somebody you can connect with.”Veteran’s Day Hot Rods Heroes Car ShowBusiness is booming at Backward Flag: they’re set to expand from a two barrel system to a 10 barrel by early 2018, meaning beers like the signature offering Oak Armored Ale may finally be available in bars, restaurants and liquor stores soon. At the moment, the only place to get the product is directly from source at the tasting room and brewing facility.
“There’s definitely some surprise that comes a lot when people come here and they find out that I’m the owner and then they’ll see little Melinda, walking around carrying around 50 pound bags of grain and find out that she’s the brewer,” said Fisher.”We do get a lot of people that come in and we have a bunch of big guys that work behind the bar and they’ll automatically assume that one of them are the owner, so they usually have a little bit of a look of surprise when they point to me or her and say, ‘No, she’s the owner’ or ‘That’s the brewer.’ ”
Jamie Queli, Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Co., Cherry HillA Wall native now living in Bradley Beach, Jamie Queli also found her way into the beer industry through an avid home brewing hobby.
Queli and company opened Cherry Hill’s Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Co. to the public in 2014, and the company quickly became a key point in the state’s beer landscape thanks to flavorful, inventive creations like the sweet Funnel Cake Boardwalk Ale and the ominous Morro Castle Smoked Porter.
Jamie Queli, owner of Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Co. in Cherry Hill, sits by a Skee Ball machine in her brewery tasting room in this 2014 photo. (Photo: FILE PHOTO)