Chatting With Erin Baker of Trolley 5
This week, the spotlight is on Erin Baker, Assistant Brewer at Trolley 5 in Calgary, Alberta. She answers our questions about the Alberta Craft Beer Industry, her job and more.
By Shira Kogut on Jan. 09, 2017
Just Beer: How long have you been making beer and what got you into it?
I have been helping make beer with Trolley 5 since they opened in June. Before that I was doing packaging for Parallel 49 in Vancouver. I have spent the last 6 years in the liquor industry, starting with Managing liquor store and I developed a love for Craft Beer and wanted to learn more about the complexity of it.
JB: Besides your own beer, what are your favourite beers to drink?
What is your favourite beer style to make? Why?
I enjoy making darker styles, watching the dark malts get mixed in and watching the mash form is so unique. A small amount of dark malts can have a huge effect on the colour of the beer.
What new brews are you working on?
We will be working on a new winter seasonal in the next few months as well as a few more collaborations.
If you could collaborate with one brewery, who would it be and why?
I would love to collaborate with Burnside Brewing because they make my favourite beer, so I would love to hangout with the brewers and discuss some of their methods.
Who are some of your industry role models? (Male and Female)
Graham With was the first brewer that I knew at Parallel 49 and he showed me as much as he could before I left there in the spring and I thank him tremendously for that.
What beer creation of yours are you most proud of?
I haven’t made any beer creations of my own yet but I can’t wait for that day!
What quality control measures do you have in place before the product goes out?
We sample all beers throughout the fermentation process as well as before and during packaging. We closely monitor the gravity and pH of all beers to compare them to the other batches we have done of the same style. Taste testing is the best way!
Do you use online platforms for beer such as Just Beer, Untapped or Rate Beer? If so, what do you like about them? Dislike about them?
I don’t have any profiles on online platforms for beer but I do often browse them secretly to see what other people are saying, I just don’t spread a lot of my own thoughts.
What advice would you give to new brewers?
Right now is the time to get into the Craft Beer industry in Alberta. The community is growing by the day and it is an awesome community to be a part of. Everyone is so welcoming and encouraging towards one another.
If you were not brewing beer, what would you be doing?
If I did not transition over to the Craft Beer Industry I would still be managing liquor stores.
What is a typical day for Erin?
A typical day is never typical. Everything changes by the day depending on what needs to be done based on the brewing schedule. I normally clean and prep any fermenters that may be needed for the brew of that day, clean any dirty kegs, as well as fill kegs or transfer beer. Oh and don’t forget all that lovely cleaning that comes with working in a brewery and restaurant where every one can see first hand all the equipment and it must be shiny!
What is your vision for the future of the Alberta Craft Beer Industry? Canadian Craft Beer Industry?
Coming from the Craft Beer Industry in Vancouver, which is trying very hard to compete with the strong industry in Portland Oregon, it is exciting to join an up and coming industry. Vancouver was very saturated with many successful breweries opening in close proximity to each other.
Alberta is very new in the industry and is opening new breweries every week. I love being able to help Alberta develop the community that makes the Craft Beer Industry what it is. Knowing that every one is making a similar product but is not necessarily in direct competition and will help one another out at any moment is such an awesome feeling.
The Beer Industry has been known as a men’s club, have you experienced any issues as a female brewer? If so, how did you deal with it. If not, tell me about some positive experiences.
Personally I have not had any issues being involved in the Canadian Craft Beer Industry. I have not made my way to a brewer yet, however being a lead of the bottling line at Parallel 49 and an Assistant Brewer at Trolley 5 hasn’t presented me with any challenges. All of the individuals I have been involved with have been very encouraging towards opening up the industry towards more women. Before I left Parallel 49 this past spring they gave me the opportunity to learn many aspects of the cellar and brewing sides of things even though I was leaving as a packaging lead. They wanted to ensure that I had as much information as possible under my belt before entering the Craft Beer Industry in Alberta.
Do you see women playing a bigger role in the industry in the coming years?
I definitely think that women are being accepted more in the industry as the industry is growing and a need for hard working dedicated people is at a high. Breweries are often looking to diversify themselves by including women into various roles as well. The main reason why women have not played such a large role in the industry is because a lot of women do not want to work in a male dominated industry, but it takes a few strong women to push through and show others that they can be accepted.
Do you think there is a difference between the American and Canadian Craft Beer Industries as far as women’s participation in them?
I believe that women have been participating in the the American Craft Beer Industries since the late 1980’s whereas the Canadian Craft Beer industry was not as prominent at that time. Women are starting to find their way more and more in Canadian Craft Beer Industry as the industry is continually growing.
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