The last time I posted, I'd just begun work at Goose Island's main plant on Fulton Street in Chicago, Illinois. I ended up spending two action-packed years as a brewer there: I learned to operate the brewhouse and cellar, poured beer at festivals, and filled and emptied Gawd only knows how many barrels for the Bourbon County Stout beers and the sours. Better yet, I got to participate in the Fulton & Wood innovation beer program, and helped develop three beers through it: Casimir, a Polish-inspired smoked beer with caraway seed and rye malt; Dark Traveler, a Munich dunkel with some fun touches like flaked oats; and Devon Avenue Pale Ale, a beer brewed with Indian chai and spices. Goose Island is where I really earned my bones as a brewer, and learned more about the brewing process and industry that anywhere else I've ever worked.
But if there's one constant in life, it's change. And Lagunitas was opening up a new brewery in Chicago, which offered even greater opportunities...
I became part of the very first wave of brewers for the Chicago branch of Lagunitas, beginning work in November 2013 and, after a stint of training at the original Petaluma brewery, becoming one of the first brewhouse operators for the 250BBL Rolec system. I worked alongside Rolec's designers and builders, and trained several people in operating the system before cross-training in the filtration and centrifuge department, which is where I work now. Opening up a brewery is a huge challenge, and helping to develop SOPs and best practices while troubleshooting a system in its infancy was an amazing experience that helped me learn even more than I had before.
But even that hasn't been the biggest development in my life.
Meet Julia Astrid Davis, everybody. About a year ago, after a lifetime of questioning and occasional struggle, I came to terms with being transgender and started the process of transition. It's been both the hardest thing I've ever done for myself, but the best as well, and I feel so happy to have embarked on this new phase of my voyage in the brewing industry. All of my coworkers at Lagunitas, and all of my associates in the brewing industry, have been respectful and accepting of my transition, and I feel fortunate to be part of such a kickass profession and community.
Things have all changed so much since the last time I updated this that it's nearly impossible to encompass it all. But I'll try to update this blog from time to time still. In the meantime, you can check out a more recent blog I started on Tumblr at http://thebeerqueer.tumblr.com/.
Thanks for reading, whoever you are!