Back in 2015, the Crew ran a series of articles on many of the women holding key roles at New Mexico breweries, from brewers to managers and all jobs in between. One could say more than enough time has passed for us to get back to highlighting women in craft beer, so we reached out to the the breweries to find some new faces excelling in various roles throughout New Mexico.
To kick things off, I sat down at Marble Brewery with lab technician Cassandra Ford and packaging manager Lindsay Mangin.
They each came into the industry from different backgrounds, but they both had something in common — a love of craft beer.
“Actually, some of my favorite beers that I started with were the IPA here, and the Red,” Mangin said. “I was working at another job, I wasn’t very happy at it, and left it. I bounced around for a little bit, and tried to find a (good) fit. I heard this was a really good place to work, so I applied and I got in as a packaging operator. Then, about eight months after, I got promoted to packaging manager.”
As for Ford, it was less about bouncing around and more about aiming directly for the job she now holds.
“I did the brewing program at CNM,” Ford said. “I was one of the first three graduates of the associates (degree) program. I’ve been a registered vet tech for 13 years, so I have a lot of science background. But then, after the brewery program, I kind of just wanted to jump right into it. I call this my retirement job. (Laughs) But, I mean it’s not any lighter or anything. It’s heavy as shit. But, it’s super fun. Me and my husband wanted to try and open our own brewery (someday). We’re kind of thinking more distillery now. But, I love beer.”
The number of male-to-female employees at breweries these days can be close to 50-50, but that is mainly due to the number of women working the front-of-house jobs. It can still be rare to find women working on the production side. As to why that is still the case, neither Ford nor Mangin felt that one particular reason stood out above the rest.
“Everything is very heavy in the back,” Ford said with a laugh and a bit of a shrug.
Mangin said she heard a few reasons, from the low pay that comes with most entry-level roles, and the misconception that women are not physically strong enough to do the job, but in the end none of that mattered to her.
“I couldn’t tell you why, because whatever reason that might be, it wasn’t something that would stop me from applying,” she said.
Working with primarily men day in and day out has not been a problem for either Ford or Mangin.
“I’d say if you do the work, you get the respect, for sure,” Mangin said. “I kind of already fit in in a male-heavy kind of crowd anyway. My circle of friends growing up was garage band mechanics, for the most part. Just filthy, rude, wild people, mostly boys. There really wasn’t any getting used to it (period), it was my kind of crowd.”
“The guys are pretty good about if you do your job, do your work, ask for help when you actually need it, to not fuck shit up, too, (then) they very much respect you, which is awesome,” Ford said.
Ford and Mangin said they would both like to see more women start applying for jobs in the back of house at Marble and other breweries.
“I’ve encouraged a couple of my friends to apply here for work,” Mangin said.
“Yeah, definitely, she didn’t work out, but we recently hired another lab tech to work with me, and she was female,” Ford said. “She did really, really well, and she was on it. I don’t know (what happened), but it just didn’t work out. It was nice to see another female in there, kicking ass and taking names.”
Jobs in the brewery itself are far from easy. Ford said she often works six to seven days a week, though she only lives 10 minutes away, so she can manage her time. Mangin works with packaging director Nate Jackson to oversee a four-person team operating one of the fastest and most sophisticated canning lines in the state. It often goes back to that love of the beer itself to get Ford and Mangin through some of the more grueling days.
“It’s pretty exhausting work, so I think the love of the beer definitely helps,” Mangin said. “I think we have a pretty solid team. I’ve never worked in a place that’s this harmonious. No place is without problems, but this is like nothing compared to everywhere else I’ve worked. It’s unbelievable to me.”
“If I didn’t love beer, and I didn’t love what I do, I would not be here six days a week,” Ford added.
As for the most difficult, and rewarding parts of their jobs, both Ford and Mangin said those aspects are fairly interconnected.
“For me, the most challenging is if I get a random hit on any kind of bacterial infection, any kind of beer-spoiling contamination,” Ford said. “Then, the most rewarding is finding out where it came from, and squashing it, and never seeing it again.”
Considering that could be anywhere between the 14 150-barrel fermenters now in use, all the way to the canning line, it can often be quite the hunt.
For Mangin, it was initially just learning all that she did not know about the brewing process, and then finding ways to adapt her existing knowledge to make it all work.
“I didn’t have a brewery background coming into here,” Mangin said. “I worked in quality control at the salsa factory behind El Pinto. I could take things from my other jobs and find a way to apply it here. It’s been really rewarding to see something that maybe could be tightened up, and no one pushing back on any of the ideas that I have. And then, seeing it work.”
That sense of accomplishment is always a good one to have, regardless of what job you hold.
A big thanks to Cassandra and Lindsay for taking time out of their very busy schedules to chat (and to Geraldine Lucero for nominating the two of them for this feature). We will have plenty more features in this series coming up as we build towards this year’s release of the Pink Boots Society collaboration beer (exact release date still TBA).
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