Friday, July 5, 2013

Hannah White: A Lady Who Loves Beer

A graduate of Georgia Southern, where she "developed a true love for booze," she recently quit her day job to become a self-employed, full-time soap-maker (and with ingredients like hops, beer, and champagne, who could blame her).

Meet Hannah White, a lady who loves beer.

Can you tell us the story of how you got interested in beer? 
I’ll go ahead and say that when I first tried beer, I didn’t like it at all. I was in college at the time at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga. It's known for its football program, so football parties (as well as games) are also a pretty big deal down there. The first beer I tried was from a Natural Light keg at a football party, which wasn’t my favorite. However, once half-time rolled around, I had a new-found appreciation for it. Some time after that game, I went to Spain on a study abroad program, which is where I tried Heineken, and realized that there were better beers out there than Natural Light (surprise!). This discovery set me on a quest to find other new and delicious beers. Once I discovered the US craft beer scene, I was hooked, and that was the end of that.
Can you tell us about what it’s like being a woman involved in the craft beer culture?
The craft beer scene is a different world than most. Compared to other alcohol industries, it is a very new scene. It really is sort of the “last frontier” for booze. Because of that, the craft beer culture is a pretty open place. Sure, there is a very large about of men in the field, but as a woman, I have never felt uncomfortable involving myself in the goings on in the craft beer world. It is what you make it, and if you have the (liquid?) courage to jump in, then you’re accepted.
Can you tell us about where you live and how you pay the bills?
I live in Tucker, GA. It’s a great town just outside of Decatur, with a rising craft beer scene. I currently own my own company called Brown Bag Soap Co. I make all-natural, vegan soap using beer, champagne, and hops. It’s been really fun getting to incorporate the natural flavor profiles of the different beer and champagne into the soap that I make. For instance, for my Pale Ale bar, I use orange and lemon essential oils to help round off the citrus scents that are so typical of hoppy pale ales. For my Porter Bar, I use coffee butter and coffee grounds to help round off the natural coffee scent of the malty porter that I use. I quit my job working for “the man” in February of this year, so soaping is now my main source of income. It’s been quite a liberating and fun experience.
Aside from liquid interests, what do you do with your spare time?
I laugh. I laugh a lot. That is probably the number one thing I’m always doing. In my spare time, I try to seek out the activities that will make me laugh the most. Typically these activities include my friends, my boyfriend, making soap, crafting, drinking beer, gardening, book clubs, doing yoga, seeing live music, and traveling. Life’s too short to not have a blast, right?
How would you describe yourself?
I am a very self-motivated type of person. I try to put myself in positions where I can do what I want, and have fun doing it.
If you have a beer alias (like “heybrewtiful”), why do you use it and where did it come from? What’s the story?
I suppose my alias is Brown Bag Soap, because it is my company’s name, and that is basically an extension of myself. Brown Bag Soap was a pretty naturally occurring alias for me. I’ve had a long history with beer and alcohol, in general. I received my undergrad from Georgia Southern, which is where I developed a true love for booze. After college, I worked for Tower Package Store, a huge liquor store in Atlanta. I had so much fun there, and learned a lot about alcohol. Through my job at Tower, I was able to qualify as a sales representative with United Distributors, which is a very large alcohol distributor in Georgia. 
When I began making beer soap, I started to think about names for my soap that would really encapsulate the product and me, as a person. Since I’ve had so much experience with selling alcohol, and with being in liquor stores, Brown Bag Soap seemed to be the perfect answer. Normally, when you buy something from a liquor store, they put your purchase in a brown bag before you leave. In the south, this is called “brown baggin’ it.” Brown Bag Soap seemed to be the perfect answer for the name of my soap, and thus my alias on twitter, & email, etc.
Do you brew?
I haven’t gotten into brewing yet. I have quite a few friends that brew for a living though! It’s always fun being around them, and listening to them explain their craft.
What are your current seasonal favorites and can you find them on tap? A suggested pairing to go with that beer (can be food, a certain someone, anything goes here)?
I tend to lean more towards hoppy beers. I’m always a fan of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. It is one of the most well-balanced IPAs I’ve tasted in a long time. It pairs quite nicely with citrus foods. I think any salad with a citrus theme would be perfect. After Bells, my other go-to beers include Sweetwater 420 or Terrapin Rye Ale (both local Georgia beers). I also really enjoy Founders Pale Ale. They are all tasty treats.
Is there anything you’d like to see the craft beer scene do differently? How would you change it and why?
There is a new law in GA that is being proposed called the House Bill 314. Currently, Georgia Breweries aren’t allowed to sell their own products out of house. They have to bottle it, and sell it on a massive scale through a distributor. If passed, House Bill 314 will allow Georgia breweries to be able to sell 288oz of beer (per person, per day) directly to patrons. I know my friends at the distributor that I used to work for may kill me for saying this, but I think it should pass. Have you ever heard of a bakery that couldn’t sell its bread directly to the people that come to their shop? Nope. You haven’t. Breweries in Georgia aren’t allowed to sell their beer directly to their customers. I think this impacts their creativity, and it also impacts any new breweries that probably want to start up in Georgia.
What’s the best place to grab a beer where you live (and what do you love about it)?
Atlanta has a really amazing bar scene for craft beer. There are so many bars with an impressive beer selection that it’s almost too difficult to choose. However, there are a few that stand out in my mind as being some of the best to visit. Brick Store, Leon’s Full Service and Twain’s in Decatur, Ga have some of the best beer selections in the state. Beer Advocate has ranked The Porter Beer Bar in Little 5 Points as one of the top places in ATL to go for tasty-treat-beers. They have over 800 beers to choose from! Also, Cypress Street Pint & Plate in Midtown has quite the amazing beer selection. It’s a fun time for the Atlanta beer scene, and is only getting better.
Are there any beer-related events you’re looking forward to?
It’s summer time, and there are a million beer festivals coming up. What’s not to be excited about?
How can people connect with you (twitter, facebook, untapped, etc.)?
I love to hear from anyone and everyone!
FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

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


  1. Her soap is the best! Absolutely love it!

  2. Great article! Brown Bag Soaps are by far the best handmade soaps I've used! My husband is even addicted!

  3. Way to go HJ Hannah!!! Way to represent The True Blue! TFM

  4. Hannah's laugh is so contagious.. loved that part of the article :)

    Her soap is fantastic - and a great gift idea!

  5. Hannah- Thank You so much for supporting our inaugural Ansley Park 5k to raise funds for the upkeep of the green space in our hood. The little soaps with our race logo were a major hit....they gave each race bag an amazing aroma of ...something blue. We appreciate you kindness and community spirit. Please check out our photos- ( scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the big green post card)! Cheers!



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