Women have been a part of beer’s history from the very beginning. In fact, it was women who were the first to brew, the first to introduce hops to the process, and were the sole driving force behind the creation of beer. Over the years, however, women were pushed out of the limelight of beer, slowly turning the industry into a male-driven one.
This series on the Tap Trail fights for women to take back the spotlight. Bellingham is filled with tons of kick ass, beer-loving ladies, and it is time for the community to know their presence and their story.
This week, we highlight Kulshan Brewing front of house manager, Jen Lamb.
Since opening its doors in 2012, Kulshan Brewing seems to have been moving forward nonstop. From opening a second location to widening their tap selection and distribution, there’s always so much going on at the brewery. With so much happening behind the scenes, it takes one hell of a woman to ensure everything in the front of house runs as smoothly as it does. That being said, Jen’s position is pretty expansive. Jen oversees not one, but TWO tap rooms, and works long and crazy hours to ensure the efficiency of the brewery.
Jen Lamb broke into the industry the same way most do: bartending. Back in 2001, Jen got her first job as a bartender at the Horseshoe Cafe in Bellingham.
After working there for a few years, Jen took a break from the service industry and opened a clothing store called Paris, TX with her best friend in 2003. Operating Paris, TX is where Jen really learned the aspect of running a business and really developed her managerial qualities. When her best friend and business partner decided to move to New York, Jen returned to bartending. Initially, Jen had an interest in wine, but then something else caught her attention.
“The difference between beer and wine is culture,” Jen explained. “Beer tends to be more inclusive, and so I just fell in love with the industry.”
When Kulshan opened its doors in 2012, Jen instantly was intrigued and knew she wanted to be a part of the organization. Starting off as a beertender, Jen began offering her ideas at Kulshan of how to improve, and she slowly began climbing the ladder to reach the point she’s at now.
“It happened very organically,” Jen assured.
Moving forward, Jen would love to continue doing what she’s doing, but would also love to get more involved in the community.
“Becoming a certified Cicerone is a goal of mine, and I want to use it to educate people on beer,” Jen explained. “I also want to be able to get more involved in community service and working with more non profits.”
Another aspect Jen loves to work on is getting more women into beer.
“I really enjoy introducing women to good beer,” Jen explained. “I love when I show women something new and they say, ‘I didn’t know beer could taste like this.'”
More often than not, Jen is typically the only woman in a table of men.
“I sometimes feel like I have to work a little bit harder to be taken seriously,” Jen confessed. “I really have to stand my ground, and luckily I’m a very direct person.”
When asked how she thinks we can change the industry to be less of a “boys club,” Jen said the solution is simple: education.
“It all comes down to how we educate people,” Jen explained. “We’re taught very specific gender roles.”
Jen shared how when she was younger, she wanted to take shop class, however she was told she had to take home economics.
“That shouldn’t happen,” Jen proclaimed. “If someone has an interest in something, they should pursue it!”
Jen continued to explain how a lack of knowledge shouldn’t stop anyone from chasing after what they want. It’s about passion and enthusiasm, not experience and expectations.
“If you have a goal, go for it. It’s how I got this job. That’s what’s really important, especially for women. Stand up for what you want!”