(above photo by Rosie Schmitz)
With summer right around the corner and Pride month upon us, what better way to enjoy this time of year, the many pool parties, time with friends, and vacations to the beach, than with a beer from one of the many breweries in the Mid-South. Over the years in Memphis, I’ve become known for my involvement in many communities, from the LGBTQ+ community to the craft beer community by sharing my experiences, one pint at a time.
My passion for the craft beer scene started, as it does for many, in college while working on my chemistry degree. I was curious about the science behind beer and the differences between all the styles found across the world, which led me to home brewing in my apartment. This passion eventually led to taking a more active role, sharing and blogging about what goes into beer and people within the community.
Communities have played an important part of my life, finding support through my transition from the LGBTQ+ community and from those I’ve met through craft beer. Blogging as @transbeergirl on Instagram, I’ve been able to make my own small impact in a community that strives to make the world of beer more inclusive for those whose voices have often been ignored. I share not only what I’m drinking and enjoying around town, but also the ups and downs I’ve experienced as a transwoman. There are many in the craft beer scene that have helped make real change and introduced people in underrepresented groups to a career in the beer industry. It’s not all hipster dudes with beards that make great beer.
Groups like the Pink Boots Society work to help make the beer industry a welcoming and supportive place for women and gender non-conforming individuals, to help them make their mark and foster their creativity. After the murder of George Floyd in the spring of 2020, Weathered Souls Brewing Company out of Texas spearheaded a collaborative beer release with breweries across the country to distribute Black Is Beautiful branded beers, which helps raise awareness of the injustices that people of color experience while raising funds for police brutality reform and highlighting the contributions from Black owned breweries.
To me, the culture around beer is one of togetherness, helping bring people from different backgrounds together to find commonalities. Having the opportunity to enjoy a beer at breweries across the country has led to some amazing interactions with strangers, and on some occasions fostering new friendships. As a transwoman, I know that with each interaction I have with someone new there’s an opportunity to make a positive impact and dispel misconceptions. I’ve often left a brewery or bar knowing that I just had an enlightening conversation with someone new, with them likely having had their first interaction with a trans person, which can have a big positive effect down the line. These small one-on-one interactions and conversations can help change someone’s perspective and open their eyes to how others try to find their way through life.
Speaking about the people behind beer is one thing, but what is it about beer itself that I really enjoy? The vast diversity of flavors you can find in a glass, brewed with basic and widely available ingredients, has always been something that I’ve found fascinating. During the summer time I enjoy crisp and clean lagers or a nice hoppy IPA. Recently there has been a wide selection of fruited sour beers that can be quite refreshing during warm weather, while a nice German style wheat beer can also quench the thirst during the heat of the season. When it comes to my personal favorite styles, the Belgian ones have always been at the top of my list with their fruity and complex flavor profiles, from Saisons to Tripels.
The beer scene in the Mid-South has really taken off since I first arrived in 2008, when all we had back then was Bosco’s. We’re now spoiled for choices of where to meet up with friends and catch up over a drink or two, while enjoying some of the city’s food trucks that often show up at these locations. As of recent, I’ve really been enjoying the new Wiseacre downtown location with the bright taproom often bathed in afternoon sunlight, sipping on a lager, such as their Italian Pilsner, Parti-Colour or their seasonal pale ale brewed with Earl Grey tea, Lord Skylark. Another of my favorite places to check out has been Hampline Brewing, which can be found near the intersection of Broad and Tillman behind the Rec Room. Hampline pumps out a wide variety of beers, including Hit the Trail, which is a wonderfully hoppy pale ale, and Peal Out, a tart and salty mango apricot gose. And if you have a pup in your life, this location, along with many others across the city, are dog friendly.
On the surface beer is often thought of as a simple libation that is often over enjoyed and not thought deeply about, but below the surface is a community that strives to make craft beer a more inclusive and supportive environment for those who have been historically underrepresented.
Cheers with Pride!