Marie Claire Jarratt chats with talented young brewer Agnes Gajic from Young Henrys in Sydney.
When one thinks of Newtown’s Young Henrys brewery, the stereotypical mental image of bearded male hipsters is likely not far behind. Yet, their brewhouse is one of the few in Australia with not just one, but a team of female brewers.
Amongst them is young talent Agnes Gajic, who has been brewing for Young Henry for over two years. Kicking off her industry experience as a bartender in a Western Australian pub, she describes her spontaneous decision to become a brewer as a “typical cliché light bulb moment”.
Drinking a beer that you made is pretty darn satisfying.
“I was writing an article about beer and sustainability for our University magazine when it hit me … I could make beer for a living!” she says. Already deeply in love with craft beer thanks to four years behind the taps, she began pursuing her dream career.
“I relentlessly pestered breweries until one of them gave me a job,” she recalls. “I was lucky enough to walk in to [Young Henry’s] tasting bar clutching my resume in my sweaty little hands when the timing was right. They were on the brink of expanding as they couldn’t keep up with the thirsty folk who love their beer.”
Starting out serving beers once more, Agi built up her skills around the brewhouse, including cleaning her way through hundreds of kegs. Eventually, she proved herself worthy and was let loose on the brewing system. Her first commercial brew was the international award-winning, malt-driven Real Ale.
“Drinking a beer that you made is pretty darn satisfying,” she says. “The process of thinking through a recipe, brewing it, looking after it and drinking it is the coolest thing about my job.”
Creativity and critical-thinking also play a large part in Agi’s brewing role. “My job is based on problem-solving and trying to find better ways of doing things, which is super fulfilling,” she says. “Brewing is a science. To be constantly learning and applying your knowledge makes work challenging and interesting.”
Since entering the world of brewing, Agi has never looked back. Early on in her career, she was the recipient of a grant from the Pink Boots Society which aims to empower women in beer. She used the funding to help start Beer Creative, a collective brewing company that focuses on beer education through creative brewing.
Now an integral part of the industry, she’s paving the way for other female brewers. However, she admits she’s never had a problem being part of such a male-dominated industry. “Given it’s 2016, I think it’s an easier climate,” she says. “People are generally having less and less time for discrimination.”
She also notes that beer has moved far away from its status as a bloke’s drink, with plenty of her female friends drinking craft beer. As for those who are yet to make the move, she has a fairly valid viewpoint. “I reckon people who don’t drink it haven’t discovered how freaking good it is yet!”
Froth’s NSW correspondent Marie Claire Jarratt writes about beer at www.newsouthales.com