Get to know a brewer – Adrienne Johanson

Barn Hammer

I am incredibly excited for this summer. We already have had a fantastic year for breweries and we are going to see a exciting Flatlanders’ beer festival this year. This summer we will have 5 new breweries added to the list of what’s already open. One Great City, Nonsuch, Oxus, Stone Angel, and Trans Canada Brewing are all hoping to open their doors soon. From when I started this blog to now, the landscape of Manitoba breweries has blossomed. Exciting times and more to come.

One of the most enjoyable things I’ve started doing on this blog is my “Get to know a Brewer” series. I’ve really been enjoying a chance to sit down and chat with some of the people who are behind making the beer we’ve all come to enjoy. For this installment, I sat down with Adrienne Johanson from Barn Hammer Brewing.

Adrienne began her career with beer with the government of Manitoba. Originally working with the Liquor Commission in the licensing and permit department, she was around during the merger and worked with the newly formed Liquor and Gaming Authority in the same area. Having done this work, Adrienne had an opportunity to take the higher certificate course and her love for beer grew.

Having some knowledge of the brewing process and finding herself looking for a change, when the opportunity came to work at Barn Hammer, it was too good to pass up. The story of how Adrienne began working at Barn Hammer specifically is a funny one.
Adrienne has been friends with Sable, co-owner of Barn Hammer Brewing, since grade one. When the entire conversation around opening a brewery began, Adrienne jokingly asked “What’s my job going to be? I can just be the brewery gremlin.” Never expecting to be taken seriously, when Tyler and Sable asked her to join the team she couldn’t say no.
Adrienne started working at Barn Hammer doing pretty much everything that needed to be done. Picking up supplies, cleaning, getting things organized around the brewery, and helping in the taproom. It wasn’t until the brewery opened and started picking up that she moved full-time to the brewery working alongside Brian Westcott.

Since joining the brewing team, Adrienne has reveled at the fact that she is now in a more physical job. Having been at a desk job most of her career, being able to move, do something physical, and create something tangible has been a real source of enjoyment in this new role. While she has no formal brewery training, like many who begin down this path, she has had the chance to learn hands on from a skilled brewer. While the “why” of brewing is something that Adrienne is working diligently at learning, the technical aspects of the role have become relatively easy. Being like a new shiny baby in the brewery world has meant that she doesn’t need to be “deprogrammed” of bad habits, but can learn good habits from the start.

Adrienne doesn’t really have a go to beer, liking to keep her mind open to trying new things. The first “non-garbage” beer she had the chance to try was Hoegarden back in the days working at the Liquor Commission. From that point on she tried whatever was new at the Liquor Marts and has continued to try to expand her horizons. While she was originally “scared” of IPAs, since working at Barn Hammer she has quickly left that fear behind.

Since November Adrienne has been brewing beer solo and holds the position of “Brewer” at Barn Hammer. She’s also recently taken to making some brews on the test batch system and is continuously learning more technically as well as theoretically about brewing. Having been a “shiny new baby” originally, Adrienne has quickly built upon her organizational skills and her ability to prioritize to become a true brewer of beer.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to talk to Adrienne about being one of two female brewers in Manitoba. That along with the fact that female brewers are underrepresented in the industry in general. While she hasn’t encountered anything overt, many people are surprised that she’s a brewer and many more think that it’s cool.

Still, Adrienne hasn’t felt like the only girl since she began brewing and has felt as though it’s been an overall positive experience. Having the opportunity to participate in the International Women’s Brew day as a brewer was cool and being able to speak with the other female home brewers and work along side them in making a beer was a rewarding experience. While Adrienne wouldn’t call herself one, being someone who others can look to and say “hey, I could do that too” is essentially the definition of a role model.

Adrienne feels incredibly luck and fortunate to have had the opportunity to take on a role as brewer and has been working very hard at the role to not give anyone a reason to question her place. She cares a great deal about the brewery and wants to ensure she is doing everything she can to support it. To that end, Adrienne is looking at some training opportunities to build on the knowledge she’s already gained. Considering online courses through Niagara college and even their one-year program. Having just bought a house and finishing a degree, these are plans to come.

On a personal note, Adrienne likes playing video-games, spending a lot of time playing Zelda Breath of the Wild recently, and has gotten into comic books as well. She also has a mini-schnauzer at home named Reggie who I’m sure occupies a lot of time.

A big thanks to Adrienne for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. To everyone else, keep following along as I continue to explore the growing beer landscape and community here in Winnipeg.

-Beer Winnipeg

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