Friday, July 12, 2013

Jessica Smyer: A Lady Who Loves Beer

With a talent for killing houseplants and killing time with strangers, this smiling Ohio native loves her some Atlanta Opera, a little Cohutta Wilderness, and of course---beer.

Meet Jessica Smyer: a lady who loves beer.

Can you tell us about where you live and how you pay the bills?
I live in Woodstock with my husband Jonathan and fur baby Chimay. I manage Cheeseburger Bobby’s on Barrett Parkway in Marietta. I’ve lived and worked in this area for about five years now. I’m from Ohio originally, and apparently people can tell. I guess my southern charm doesn’t mask my Yankee roots. My o’s get a little northern, don’t cha know?
Aside from liquid interests, what do you do with your spare time?
My hubs and I love to go hiking and spend time outdoors. We went Yosemite for our anniversary and it was the most amazing place we’ve ever been. When we can’t afford to fly to California, we hike in the Cohutta Wilderness or some point along the Adirondack Trail. I’m also a huge fan of live music and will go to see my favorite bands any chance I can get. I’ve definitely spent my share of dough on some primo concert tickets. The Atlanta opera has an exciting season coming up so I’m looking forward to putting our season tickets to good use. We also are trying our hand at gardening this year; I’m trying to turn my black thumb green.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m an observer of people who loves to find common ground with anyone I meet. I’m also a huge people pleaser and thoroughly enjoy working in the service/hospitality industry. I’m an excitable gal, so I get a little loud when something really piques my interest. And I’m real big on smiling--it’s one thing that’s sure to brighten someone’s day.
Can you tell us the story of how you got interested in beer?
Growing up, it was always the cheap beer at my brother’s parties. Milwaukee’s Best was the worst beer I’ve ever tasted and Icehouse always gave me bad dreams, but I never completely shut out beer. When I would drink with my dad at his local bar, I’d try every beer the bar had. Great Lakes Burning River was there, and I remember enjoying it a lot (I still do). That was the proverbial light bulb. I knew I’d never choose to drink average beer again. When I was going to college at the University of Dayton, I was bringing my own beer to parties that had troughs full of Natural Light. After that, I was checking out every beer that I’d never had before.
Can you tell us about what it’s like being a woman involved in the craft beer culture? Is it even an issue where you are? Are the men supportive (or at least interested)? What’s the best and worst of it?
I was influential in expanding my friends' and husband’s beer palate, so I know that people will listen to ladies who love beer. I do see more men than women at most beer events I frequent, but I think beer fans enjoy the company of other beer fans no matter their gender. I think women are better able to infiltrate beer circles because it is still majorly male, and I don’t know many men who are uninterested in talking with a friendly gal with a beer in her hand, especially if beer is the tie that binds. I would love to see some ladies’ night beer tastings because I think it would encourage bourgeoning beer ladies to join the sisterhood of suds.
Do you brew? Tell us about that. Do you have a brew partner? What do your friends and family think of it? What’s up next? What’s your favorite brew been so far (and why).
I’ve shared brewing duties with my husband, but overall he’s the one that handles it. I do love the smell of hot grains. It’s a great sign of creation. I enjoy watching the krausen develop and watching all the little yeasties fart their CO2. Overall I think the process is neat. We just got an all grain set up going, so it’s always a new experience. Our friends and family think it’s pretty interesting. They’re glad to sample the fruits of “our” labor. We’ve currently got a pale ale fermenting—it’s a couple weeks out. The single hop best bitter has been my fave so far. I suppose I’m partial to the malt. We’re trying to decide what to brew next—suggestions are welcome!
What are your current seasonal favorites and can you find them on tap? A suggested pairing to go with that beer?
I have found that Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is a superb go to beer, all year long. You can almost always find it in our fridge. Bells’ Two Hearted also graces our fridge on a regular basis. RJ Rocker’s Son of a Peach or 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon are excellent summer beers. They have a nice fruit flavor that’s clean and not overwhelming.
Is there anything you’d like to see the craft beer scene do differently? How would you change it and why?
I would like to see more ladies involved in the production end. I don’t know exactly how that might happen, but I always get a good feeling when I see a lady brewer. Perhaps breweries can sponsor classes for ladies to learn the art, or invite female brewers to collaborate. In the end, women have to get more exposure and make the movement to the beer world. And I’d be amiss if I didn’t say that the passage of GA bill 314 is essential for the development of a local beer community in Georgia. I mean, who’s going to lose if brewers can pour their beer on site and consumers always know where they can get their favorite local beer (except maybe the middle man)?
What’s the best place to grab a beer where you live (and what do you love about it)?
It’s not close to our house but our favorite haunt is Blue Ridge Brewery in Blue Ridge. Any place that carries St. Bernardus 12 regularly (and for cheap!) is a good place to me. The ambience is comfortable but classy, a great rotating beer list, and good food. It doesn’t get any better than that. The drive up is also nice. We also frequent the Vortex in little five. Good burgers and imperial pints with that quirky atmosphere make us feel right at home.
Are there any beer-related events you’re looking forward to?
We’re going to see The Queens of the Stone Age in Asheville, NC in September. While not a beer event on the face of it, going to Beercity USA is always a real treat. The Wedge and Green Man Brewery are definitely on the agenda. I’m also always down for a Burnt Hickory open house. Scott, Will, and the rest of the BHB “army” produce consistently exciting and highly quaffable beer.

How can people connect with you (twitter, facebook, untapped, etc.)?
You can find me on FB or come by and grab a burger at Cheeseburger Bobby’s, my second home. Everyone is always welcome, and I’d love to talk some brew with the other ladies (and gents) who love beer.

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