Friday, May 24, 2013

Heather Erickson: A Lady Who Loves Beer

An elementary school teacher for the past 14 years (the last nine of which she spent teaching 6th graders), her love of beer comes from the "obvious need to self medicate" (and I quote). Born in Seattle, WA but currently living in Tacoma, she finds herself up and down the I-5 corridor at least once a month for a "beerventure," (even more often during the summer months). She is also a self-described math nerd who says she is also "outdoorsy, sarcastic, and driven," you'll find her using her spare time to concoct medal winning home brews.

This is Heather Erickson, and she loves beer.

When she’s not drinking beer, she enjoys... 
An earthy Cabernet, a slightly oaked Chardonnay, a crisp Ketel One and tonic with extra lime, or a refreshing Cadilllac Maragarita.
Her favorite person to drink with is...
My favorite person to drink with is my dad. Ever since I got into home brewing, he has been my number one fan. I love the excitement in his eyes when he brews with me and appreciate his enthusiasm when he tries my latest creation. I also love taking him to beer fests and nerding out with him.
Her favorite place to drink is... 
My favorite place to drink in Tacoma, WA is undoubtedly the Parkway Tavern. With over 30 tap handles, a delicious menu, and the feeling that you belong is what I consider a perfect gathering place. An added bonus is that it is only a mile away from where I live. More recently on a trip to San Diego, I fell in serious beer love with Stone Brewing's World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido, CA. Not your average beer garden, this place is lush and private. With scattered adirondack chairs all over the grounds, you can sit and soak up the SoCal sun for hours on end.
Before Heather was a beer drinker, she mostly drank...
I can't remember a time when I wasn't a beer drinker. Back in college, when all I had was $8 to spare on beer, I always struggled choosing between the 18 pack of Natural Ice and the 6 pack of Red Hook ESB. My craft beer journey truly began with one of my first beerventures down to Portland, Oregon. When I took my first drink of Bridgeport IPA back in 2000, I knew that I would be a fan of craft beer forever. Over the past thirteen years, my palate has been tested and challenged with the ebb and flow of popular styles. It wasn't until 2010 that I actually brewed my first beer. Religiously brewing 10 gallons a month has helped me further expand my reportoir. With friends always curious about my opinions and adventures, I started a blog in the fall of 2012. Since then, I have branched off into the world of freelance beer writing and have been a regular contributor for,, and the EC Kraus blog.
Do you brew, or help someone who does? What’s your level of experience? What do you enjoy about it?
I have been home brewing for a little over three years now. What started as curiousity in my friend's garage has now turned into a full fledged passion. I have brewed over two dozen different styles of beer, entered Pro Am competitions, and have won a silver and bronze medal for my beer. What I like about brewing is the creativity that goes into a batch. Much like an artist creating a painting or a sculpture, I feel that brewing is my kind of art. I enjoy pushing the envelope and creating concoctions that aren't mainstream.
Aside from beer, what are your passions/interests?
Aside from brewing and beer writing, I really enjoy tutoring kids who struggle in math. Four nights a week I work with kids anywhere from 4th grade to college age, from as simple as multiplication facts to statistics and even calculus. I like watching that light bulb come on when they finally realize that math is easier than they once thought. 
Can you tell us about women-friendly spaces of note in your area (or wherever you travel regularly)? 
I have traveled across the country checking out beer bars and breweries during the past five years. I honestly haven't found a single place that isn't woman friendly. If anything, I feel like places nowadays understand that women are enjoying more and more craft beer, thus shifting their focus to include more than just the middle aged man demographic.
What do you most like/loathe about the culture of beer?
I love the family like culture of beer. Amateurs and pros alike can converse about their latest brews, even trials and tribulations with a batch, with a mutually warm comrarderie. To me, it doesn't seem like anyone out in the craft beer community is "out to get" anyone else.
How do you see women represented locally, nationally, globally?
I think that women are represented in a positive light in terms of the craft beer culture. More times than not, I have been the only girl to medal in a competition or be featured in a home brew dinner. Each and every time, fellow male brewers have been excited to see their once male-dominated hobby include wormen, especially young women.
Are there any beer-related events you’re looking forward to?
Once again I have the privilege of competing in the Great American Beer Festival's Pro Am with Skip Madsen from American Brewing. I went last year as well, and only 95 homebrewers in the nation were able to go. In order to qualify, the home brewer needs to win a medal for their home brew in an AHA Sanctioned Pro Am competition. Then, it is up to the home brewer to meet up with the commercial brewery to see if they want to partner up and recreate the home brew on a larger scale. The commercial brewery, in turn, needs to be serving and competing with their own beers at GABF. If all the stars align just right, you have an amazing opportunity. Prior to competing, I have loved going to this beerfest for several years now. Having my beer on tap at the nation's largest beer fest is only an added bonus.
To connect with Heather, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Untappd.

Are you a lady who loves beer? Do you know someone who is? Meet me here each Friday for a weekly focus on women and beer, or meet the ladies who've already contributed to the growing collection of interviews. To get in on the already evolving lineup, email me at heybrewtiful{at}gmail{dot}com with your story.

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