Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rebekha Jennings: A Lady Who Loves Beer

After living in Japan for a few years, she returned to Atlanta and saw the city anew appreciating both the arts and craft beer scenes alike. When she combined her interests by creating an "Art of Beer" event, where she met brewer Greg Niznik, the idea for the Ponce De Leon Festival was born.

With plans to put her love for community and creation to use by opening a farm to table resort and a brewery in Asheville sometime in the near future, this month's Lady Who Loves Beer is one to watch as she continues to make her dreams take flight.

Meet Rebekha Jennings: a lady who loves beer.

Where are you from? How did you end up in Atlanta? Do you think this is your forever home?
Originally I was born in Richmond Virginia. I think my parents chose that location because as I hear it "Richmond is for Lovers."Not that I remember anything about the area because my parents moved me to Atlanta when I was two, but I try to keep the "Lover" inside my heart. 
Over the years I dance back and forth on my feelings about the Atlanta area. I see it being an overall violent town but also look upon how it has blossomed over the years. I love seeing the art scene developing and really contribute it to SCAD opening its doors a few years back. 
Also, I enjoy the inner whispers of the film industry coming into fruition. I know this will do great thing for the city's growth. I was able to step away from the city and moved to Japan for a few years. Being on the other side of the world can give you enough space to see Atlanta from a far and when I returned I could enjoy the city as a whole. I will always keep Atlanta as my base but I do have my eye set on Asheville and feel its only a matter of time before I make my move.
What makes the Ponce de Leon Beer Fest special? How did it get started?
I started my own company Enterwoven Productions when I was 28 and pushed to represent local artists, but also loved bringing together the community through events. I started with an Adult Field Day then moved on to a soapbox derby called The Atlanta Downhill Challenge and when I found a new love for Craft Beer I built the "Art of Beer." I wanted to bring together home-brewers and have a gallery filled with beer related art work. From that I met Greg Niznik who asked me to help raise money for the The Shiners and oversee what I called The Ponce de Leon Beer Festival.
I know there are a lot of beer festivals in the Atlanta area but there are a few things that make this festival unique. It is held within the Yaarab Temple on Ponce de Leon. I feel it is wonderful that The Shiners opened their doors to this event to help raise money for The Children's Hospital
Outside of it being held inside this beautiful temple, I find the background about the road that the temple sits on very fascinating. Ponce de Leon himself walked down this area while looking for the fountain of youth and we felt this resonated with the way beer is made. We asked each brewery to create their own "fountain of youth" beer for our VIP area at The Ponce de Leon Beer Festival and were amazed to see (and taste) their results. 
It's amazing how many breweries are opening up within the southeast. It presents brewers with the challenge to innovate. Each brewer has to keep a youthful frame of mind to stay relevant within the industry. I really enjoy this because it opens the flood gates on creative taste and new ways to perfect brewing. 
Are there any unique challenges/perks to being a woman in the bar/restaurant/beer scene in your experience?
The beer industry is male driven and I really saw this when I was asked to pour beer at The Great American Beer Festival for Blue Tarp. While filling someones glass, I looked up and saw the men's bathroom line wrapper around the corner while the ladies was a breezeway. It made me laugh because I thought it was such a great visual for showing the imbalance of the industry. 
Even though it is male driven there are a lot of amazing women in brewing and adding their own creative touches to give it depth. Some examples off the top of my head are Frozen Pints (Aly Moler), Soapzilla (Marcy Cornell) and Beer Painter (Donna Munsel). 
No matter how the industry is driven, everyone behind it has been extremely supportive and this is what makes the brewing industry so wonderful. I am thankful to now be a part of it. 
Favorite spot(s) in Atlanta to grab a brew?
There are some great places in Atlanta to learn about craft brewing including The Porter, The Midway and The Brick Store but for me its more about who is sitting next to me. The three people who have made this ride the most meaningful have been my dear friend Mike Fulmer a local BJCP who help me build my knowledge on craft beers and introduced me to the smokes and sours including Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen and Mikkeller's Spontancassis.

A local beer advocate Chris VanBrackle who always keeps me up to date on what is new on the market. Chris works at Ale Yeah, a local craft beer store. If you get a chance I strongly suggest stopping in and having a chat with him. You will find yourself in a world of knowledge. Also, as I mentioned before my new friend Greg Niznik and his beautiful wife Cindy who entrusted me with building The Ponce de Leon Beer Festival.
Future goals/plans/dreams, either beer-related or not...
I am looking to make a move up to Asheville and start a farm to table resort which will be called Drifting Meadows. I love cooking and enjoy educating myself on cultivating new recipes. I am also hoping to open a brewery with the help from a friend and use our own local ingredients.
If you could have one beer with anywhere and with anyone you like (past or present) who/where would you raise your glass and why?
The first person who jumps in my mind is Nicolas Tesla, not just for his wonderful facial hair but also for his brilliant mind.
It would also be amazing to rase a glass to aviation. I have a deep love of bi-planes. I would love to sit at a table with The Wright Brothers, Howard Hughes "before he went crazy" and in the chair next to me would have to be Amelia Earhart for having the courage to be an aviation pioneer and the first female aviator. 
Join us for a new feature on Atlanta women each month throughout 2014. Not in Atlanta, but still have something of interest to offer our readers? Requests for promotion and individual features are offered on a first come, first serve basis provided there is an opening in our limited schedule and your brand/expertise meets the needs and interests of our readership. Inquiries, interest, and requests for more information should be sent to heybrewtiful{at}gmail{dot}com. 

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