Beer Week is rolling into New York City and as part of the celebration, Taproom 307 (307 Third Avenue, 212-725-4766) will host a Women in Beer Night on Monday, February 24. The evening will be an opportunity for female beer lovers to network and taste over 40 beers, all brewed or sold by women. Hayley Jensen, the Taproom’s beer sommelier, encourages “any girl who likes beer to come out and have fun with us.” In celebration of ladies in brewing, we chatted with Hayley to learn more about her background.
When did you first become interested in beer?
I worked at a beer-focused restaurant. I had never had a beer in my life when I applied for the job, but when I went in for my interview and they asked if I knew about beer, I said I loved it. I really learned on the fly. I remember I actually wrote an email to my family that said, “Did you know beer is good?” After that I was like, “Wow, this is my thing.” I travelled to Europe, Belgium, attended Oktoberfest, and moved to the London for a bit, where I worked for a beer distributor/retail store. I absorbed everything like a little sponge.
After that I worked at DBGB. Daniel [Boulud] saw my role as like a sommelier, but I was just working with beers. He called me the “beer sommelier” and the title has stuck since then.
Do you think beer is becoming a more lady-friendly arena?
I’m finding that more and more women are getting involved with beer. I think the stigma that it’s for older guys with bellies is disappearing.
Beer Week brings in people from across the United States and around the globe. Where is New York in the national beer movement?
When it comes to beer, we are behind. New York was a little slow to catch on compared to the West Coast. They started the American wine movement and beer came soon after. Philly and Boston are ahead of New York, too. There are several fine dining restaurants in those cities that offer beer pairings. Small gastrobreweries are opening as well as gastropubs. We’re catching up. That said, just like in fashion and anything else, when New York embraces something, we do it bolder, faster, and greater. We will dominate that whole idea and that whole scene.
What are the beers you’re most excited about pouring during the Women in Beer Night?
I have a friend, Anne-Catherine Dilewyns, who is sending over a keg from Belgium. It’s called Vicaris Tripel-Gueuze. Another beer I’m excited to debut is one I brewed with four other female beverage directors here in New York. It’s a chocolate chili imperial stout called Sweet Fire. It has actually never been tasted before. We used chilis in the beer and we wanted to highlight the smokiness of chipotle peppers. It’s going to be a little spicy — a warming, tingling heat. We also used cocoa nibs for a concentrated bittersweet dark chocolate flavor. The beer is really luscious. We brewed at Empire Brewing in Syracuse. The ladies involved are Olivia Cerio, Empire Brewing’s sales rep and former assistant brewer; Anne Becerra, the beer director at The Ginger Man; Jen Torriero, who runs the beer program at Spring Lounge; and then Katherine Kyle, who runs the beer program at Blind Tiger. We realized that the top beer bars in the city are run by females. So we got together to brew this beer. We will each have six kegs, so the beer will be around as long as we still have it.
Taproom 307’s Second Annual Women in Beer Event will take place February 24 at 6 p.m. Additional Beer Week events at Taproom 307 include:
Brunch with Empire Brewing, February 22, 11 a.m.
Karaoke Night Hosted by Beer Reps!, February 23, 6 p.m.
Trivia Night featuring Great South Bay, February 25, 7:30 p.m.
Sixpoint Night, February 26, 6 p.m.
Beer Cocktail Night, February 27, 6 p.m.
All New York, All Day & All Night, March 1, 11 a.m.
Beer Lovers Couples Social, March 2, 4 p.m.