Brienne Allen ensures beer at Notch Brewing stands out
Photo/ Michael Papetti
Brienne Allen, 29
Production manager at Notch Brewing, Salem
Worldwide leader: She’s chapter leader of Pink Boots Society, which assists and inspires women in the Massachusetts beer industry to advance their careers through education.
Brienne Allen, craft brewing
Salem resident Brienne Allen is the production manager of Notch Brewing, in Salem. Raised in Upton, she explored many interests and potential careers before entering the competitive field of brewing beer.
Allen was originally on a pre-med track; she spent a year studying healthcare at Emmanuel College in Cambridge, eventually deciding it wasn’t for her.
Then, it was art. She enrolled in Montserrat College of Art in Beverly. In this roundabout way, she learned some of the things she liked to do are required in the manufacturing field.
“I thought it was photography I was into, but I liked the sculpture and design aspect and building things,” Allen said.
As part of her art classes, she took woodworking and welding, which resonated. During the time she was enrolled, craft brewing began gaining traction as an industry, which interested her.
As it worked out, she waited to attend brew school until after she earned her bachelor’s degree in fine art from Montserrat and was glad she did. Getting basic aspects also applying to manufacturing under her belt in a thorough, more formal way has served her well in terms of practical application.
“The brewing program is extremely technical, and you wouldn’t be able to utilize the information and explain why you are doing what you are doing,” without conceptual understanding of processes like heat transfers, Allen said, which concern successful temperature consistency during fermentation.
“There are just so many of us now, it’s a challenge for brewers to make their beers different.”
— Brienne Allen
At Notch for two years now, she has worked her way up to production manager, but started out cleaning kegs, working in packaging and bottling before getting into the brewing and cellaring processes, which she refers to as the most important parts of brewing.
“It all has to do with the fermentation aspects of beer – making sure it’s all sterile and sanitary, or it will go bad and spoil,” Allen said.
Allen believes there are as many women involved in brewing as men — more, in fact. They just may not be as visible. From her vantage point, anyone can come to the field with little or no experience. The challenge is to get your beers noticed out in the marketplace, Allen said.
“There are just so many of us now, it’s a challenge for brewers to make their beers different,” she said.
(She also said she enjoys drinking wine.) ◾