Friday, July 4, 2014

Mary O. Boyle {A Lady Who Loves Beer}

As a special offer to Hey, Brewtiful readers, our feature for the month is offering a $50 credit to her online shop good for a custom order or existing listing! Enter here {} or at the end of this feature.

Born and raised in Arizona, this west-coast woman has counted over 20 years in Atlanta home. When she's not out promoting the book on beer she recently co-wrote with her partner (detailing the history of brewing in Atlanta), you'll likely find her sipping on spirits or gluten-free beer or working on her libations line of jewelry. With a beer crush that includes the witty Brew Dogs duo, an aversion to non-readers ("we won't talk about those people"), and a love for the older Georgia breweries who are still innovating (count me in on all three), this Lady and I have a lot of common ground.  

Meet Mary O. Boyle: a lady who loves beer.  

Tell us about you. Where are you from? How did you end up in Atlanta? Do you think this is your forever home? When you're not drinking beer, you're...
Well, I was born and raised in Arizona more years ago than I like to count.
I was living/working outside Los Angeles when my company started putting together an accounting systems project for our division. I raised my hand, and against all prior claims to the contrary, I moved to corporate headquarters in Atlanta.
Forever home? Hmm that’s a slippery slope. I’ve been here for 20 years, and there is no question I am here for the foreseeable future. But with family members a minimum of 800 miles away, anything is possible.
When I’m not drinking (gluten-free) beer, I’m trying a new distilled spirit or creating jewelry. Though not at the same time; I find the quality of either suffers with that form of multi-tasking.
Tell us about your experience in the Georgia beer scene and your recent book, Atlanta Beer.
When I first moved to ATL in 1993, beer was just not that exciting—for me, or in general for the city. I remember finding Tower Package on Piedmont, but I was not that aware of the local breweries that were starting up then. I became more attuned to local beer around 2003, when Ron Smith (co-author) and I met, in part because my time in grad school was drawing to an end and I could get out and about more. I think my awareness of local beer grew when I became more concerned about buying locally (to save transportation energy) and more focused on the “craft” aspect of all things. Buying beer in a local pub isn’t the same as buying locally-produced beer in a local pub. With that said, though, there hasn’t always been a great selection of Atlanta-brewed beers to choose from. The last few years have seen phenomenal growth in flavorful local brews. Hooray for us! 
For the book, I was able to draw on my own experience watching Atlanta bars evolve from stocking three or four macro-brews and a couple of craft beers to offering customers a real selection of styles and breweries. My co-author and I are energized by the revival of Red Brick’s quality, the adventurous nature of SweetWater’s brewing (such as the Dank Tank line), and the burst of breweries starting up this year and last. I now have three craft breweries and a brewpub a few miles down the road in Decatur/Avondale Estates. We feel lucky to be in Atlanta during this time and privileged to write about it.

Was the collaboration [on the book] an easy process, or did you have to negotiate some give and take?
Another slippery slope! We did agree to a division of labor—that Ron would take the first pass at writing the text and then I’d apply my editing and sculpting hand to it. That seemed to work, so that the book (hopefully) has a consistent voice and tells the story we hoped to tell. Which isn’t to say we didn’t have a couple of near-meltdowns in the process of trying to find the right approach, but we got past those moments. Having a common goal makes all the difference.
What's the reception of the book been like so far? Are you getting a lot of support from the local beer community?
What we’ve witnessed is that a lot of people hear about the book the first time directly from us. Which is all right, in that we have a chance to spread the word about how active Atlanta’s beer history was and how lively the local beer scene is these days. Once people know about the book, they are pretty responsive (minus those who declare, “I don’t like to read”…we won’t talk about those people). 
Our biggest supporters seem to be brewers or beer lovers who have been in the area a long while, because they appreciate the progress. They recognize what a bright day this is for fans of craft beer. Some breweriana collectors are also excited about our taking the time to document Atlanta’s brewing history.
The most exciting recent development is our collaboration with Historic Oakland Cemetery for a walking tour based on the book. The tour tells the stories of various figures in Atlanta’s brewing history while visiting their gravesites. The rewarding part for us is that the tour is bringing people to Oakland for the first time, and the proceeds support Oakland’s preservation.

Favorite spot(s) in Atlanta to grab a brew?
The Brick Store Pub—on Super Bowl Sunday! Seriously, it’s the best day of the year to hit the Decatur landmark and drink with abandon and elbow room. In January we celebrated our fourth annual Super Bowl Sunday at Brick Store.
I like the dark woods and ambiance at The Marlay House. I am delighted to be able to cozy up to the bar at 5 Seasons Westside and order a pint of Elmer’s gluten-free, and the food there is so darn good.
New brew loves? Old favorites?
I cringe every time I make the admission, but I went gluten-free three years ago to help chronic back issues. Omission Pale Ale is my new session beer and Brunehaut just came out with a tasty tripel. Crispin’s specialty ciders are a gift to anyone who is avoiding gluten. 
Old favorites that I will “cheat” for? Goodness from Belgium or in Belgian style: Leffe Brune, La Trappe, McChouffe. I am fond of anything by Unibroue out of Canada or Ommegang from NY. I’ve done some cheating for Red Brick’s 20th Anniversary Ale and Monday Night’s Drafty Kilt. Strawn has a couple of beers I threw caution to the wind for, too; those guys pour their hearts into their beers.
Future goals/plans/dreams, either beer-related or not...
To expand my creative horizons, including continued writing/editing and growing my handcrafted jewelry business (available at MaryBoyleJewelry on ArtFire or by custom order). Ron Smith and I are under contract for a second non-fiction book to come out in 2015. 
I have a dream of more local breweries offering gluten-free options. Rumor is that Orpheus will be offering such a beer in its lineup.
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?
I’d love to sit down in Het Elfde Gebod in Amsterdam with the BrewDogs. The bar isn’t the highest rated beer bar in Amsterdam, but Ron and I have fabulous memories of this little place... strolling in on a sunny afternoon, our glassware being prepped with deft attention, the savvy bar mistress taking time to introduce us to cave beer. As for the Scottish guys of BrewDog: they are cute, witty, and slightly goofy while still being dead serious about beer. Wouldn’t it be delightful to hear their lilting accents calling “Hallooo” and describing a yummy brew we’re sipping together in an Amsterdam bar? Heck, yeah, it would.

Connect with Mary O. Boyle via: Website | Facebook

Join us for a new feature on Atlanta women each month throughout 2014. Inquiries, interest, and requests for more information should be sent to heybrewtiful{at}gmail{dot}com.

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