Welcome back to Behind the Brew, where we focus not so much on the beers themselves, but on the people behind those beers. Today, we’re talking with someone who’s doing a job that’s perhaps one we don’t give enough thanks for – those folks who get your favorite beers stocked at your local shop. To that end, we’re talking with Brittany Healy of Faction Brewing.
BeerSelfie: Please introduce yourself, and how you find yourself a part of the Craft Beer community.
Brittany Healy: My name is Brittany Healy, East Bay sales rep for Faction brewing. I’ve been in the craft beer industry for almost six years, in the food and beverage industry for 15 years, and held jobs in everything from bartending in breweries and awesome craft beer bars to both supplier and distributor sales. Also, I’ve been drinking craft beer since I was a wee lass (I mean, since when I was 21 ). Having held so many different positions in this industry means I have the opportunity to try a huge variety of what the craft beer world has to offer, in addition to forming connections and friendships with fellow industry folks and craft beer lovers alike.
BeerSelfie: Sounds like a bit of a winding path through a variety of roles – how did your journey into craft beer get started?
Brittany Healy: When I was 21, a friend of mine held his birthday at a pretty famous Belgian beer bar in downtown Oakland. I remember drinking a couple Allagash Whites, which i knew immediately was a step up from some of the beer I had been drinking in the past. The real moment when I knew I wanted to explore this industry deeper was when we ordered a bottle of Russian River’s Temptation. It blew me away and made me realize how complex beer can be.
I continued to explore other breweries and beer, then found out in 2014 that 21st Amendment was opening up a new production facility and taproom close to my house. I applied and got a job bartending in the tasting room, and then a few months later they were looking for a field sales rep and the president of 21A thought I would be a good fit. It was a whole new side of the world of craft beer for me and I loved it. and as they say, the rest is history…
BeerSelfie: Coming at it from what I consider the front lines – pulling taps! What have you found to be the most enjoyable thing about craft beer and the community that has grown around it?
Brittany Healy: The community IS what I love the most about this craft beer! We go through ups and downs together, meet in bars and at events, share so many laughs, all while drinking delicious beer from around the globe. By nature, I love connecting with others no matter what their background is, so the common denominator of all of us loving craft beer is a beautiful thing and I’m grateful for the community every day.
BeerSelfie: Since you’ve joined the community, how have you seen it grow and/or change?
Brittany Healy: There are a lot more women, hell yeah! Haha. Really though, when I started in this industry I was one of very few women and it’s great to see that now, being a woman in craft beer isn’t something anyone is surprised to see at all. Shoutout to Pink Boots Society!
On another hand, I’ve noticed how saturated the markets are getting – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in sales it’s become more difficult to have a permanent handle on an account. There are so many breweries that buyers are constantly rotating to try to fit in all of the options that they have available. For the consumer, it’s either great because there’s always something different to try, or it becomes disappointing because if they find a beer that they really like and want to continue drinking it, chances are after that keg blows they’ll have to find it somewhere else or wait months for the account to bring it back again, if they ever do so at all.
BeerSelfie: Yeah, as a consumer, that’s a tricky knife edge to walk – trying out new stuff and finding those “insta-buys” that you always want to have available. Some of that is definitely influenced by the marketing – how do you see social media playing into (and influencing) the craft beer scene?
Brittany Healy: It’s been a huge influence! Most breweries are staying up to date with their Instagram pages to announce new releases and events and it definitely reaches the masses. I remember one day, Faction made a post about one of our new cans being released that week and before I even saw the post, I received texts from two different buyers asking if it’s available yet. So yes, people are watching!
BeerSelfie: That’s got to be a rewarding experience, to have that sort of immediate feedback. Let’s shift gears a bit, and actually go back a few questions – what is your “Go To” brew?
Brittany Healy: Sounds expected, but Faction Pils and Penske File have been my go-to even before I worked for Faction. Now that we’re canning, it makes for an even more accessible camping/hiking/outdoor friendly beer. I also love some Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues and STS Pilsner from Russian River… I’m so happy it’s widely available now!
BeerSelfie: Absolutely – cans are the way to go for the outdoors, if you ask me. Let’s flip it around – when you’ve got someone asking you for a recommendation, what’s the first one that comes to mind?
Brittany Healy: Definitely depends on what style of beer they’re looking for. Typically, when someone comes into Faction, I want to start them off with Faction Pale as it’s the perfect embodiment of what we do best. If they’re looking for something really crisp and refreshing, Hipster Conformant is the go-to. Puddy Porter is my Dark recommendation, it’s the perfect porter in my opinion. If they’re into sour beers, Sante Adairius is my top recommendation; Barrelhouse also has an outstanding barrel program. Past that, pretty much anything from Urban Roots and Ghost Town.
BeerSelfie: No on can say you’re not well versed in the offerings out there! So, given that, let’s paint a picture: you’re mixing up a sweet 6-pack for a trade – what’s going in the box that you’re sending out?
Brittany Healy: Trying to keep it well rounded…
- Faction – Penske File (pale ale)
- Russian River – Blind Pig (IPA)
- Urban Roots – EZ PZ (dry hopped Pilsner)
- Moonlight – Death & Taxes (black lager)
- Barrelhouse – Wild Dapple Fire (wild ale)
- Faction – NYX (bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout)
BeerSelfie: Nice, covering a variety of styles and breweries! You’ve come to beer from a variety of roles – and have had different ones within beer. If you had one piece of advice to someone jumping into craft beer community – in whatever capacity – what would it be?
Brittany Healy: Two things: try to learn every ounce of information possible, and don’t be shy- talk to everyone you can! When I first started in the industry I was like a dog with their tail in between its legs; it was daunting to talk to folks who were established people in craft beer when I hardly knew anything. I learned quickly that the majority of people are very friendly and are happy to teach others what they know.
BeerSelfie: That applies in so many places – never be afraid to learn. Now, let’s lighten it up a bit – if you could sit down and share a beer with anyone, who would it be, and why?
Brittany Healy: Dave Chappelle. I’ve adored him for decades now, and I think he’d have wise yet hilarious stuff to chat about. Hopefully I would pull another “When keeping it real goes wrong” story out of him. Haha
BeerSelfie: No arguments here! Last, but not least – what’s in your glass today?
Brittany Healy: Faction Puddy Porter. It’s about 50 degrees out today, so for my California native blood, it’s a tad chilly. And when it’s chilly, this is my favorite brew to sip.
I have to agree – porters are great for cold weather (and this native Midwesterner will leave the arguments of what constitutes cold for another day). Our thanks to Brittany Healy for taking the time to answer our questions! factionbrewing.com