PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Beer may still be considered a man's drink to some, but that's not the case if you ask certain women in Maine.
In fact, there are several women who
are devoted to the craft of making the well-loved carbonated beverage. From owning breweries to working the line and just being "one of the guys", the number of ladies working in the beer business is growing, which still surprises some.
Women who work in the beer industry need to have a good sense of humor with a side of sass.
"I still have men, actually, tell me, 'I don't know if you'll like this because it's kind of hoppy.' And I'm like, 'I think I can handle it'," Dee Dee Germain, Brand Manager at Allagash Brewing Co. said.
"They either bait you thinking that you're not going to know the answer to something, which is kind of funny," Ashley Fendler, a tour guide at Allagash, said. "I'm like, you're coming into a brewery. I would hope I would know an answer."
Despite women brewing beer since before the Middle Ages, women are still forging their way through a male-dominated industry.
"From time to time, you'll get that backhanded compliment from somebody who I think usually means well, but might say, 'Wow, you really know your stuff,' in a way that they wouldn't say to a male colleague of mine. But you kind of have to roll with that and hope that you're educating them on knowing that," Stasia Brewczynski, Tasting Room Manager at Rising Tide, said.
But a lot of progress has been made within the last couple of years when people would ask Allagash's Ashley Fendler: "'Are you the only female that works here? Like I look around and I don't see anyone else, because really, everyone was up in the office.'"
Step into a brewery now, and women are working in every single department including production where Emily Powers spends her workdays.
"I think at first, perhaps there was some doubt, or maybe not doubt, but you know. Now I'm just truly one of the dudes," Powers says.
She may get funny looks from her friends when she tells them she lifts kegs and cleans out tanks, but she loves her job.
"The one drawback is I wish I was a foot taller," Powers continued. "There's nothing made in a brewery for 5-foot tall people."
Powers is the only woman who works production at Allagash, but across town at Rising Tide, Haley Campbell is holding her own as Director of Quality Control who also works the line with the guys.
"There's so much going on in fermentation and the whole process," Campbell said. "It stays interesting, you can stay up to date, and keep learning myself."
One of Campbell's jobs is to make sure her team members know how to taste if something is ever wrong with their beer. In a taste test, she spiked one of the samples with a chemical and is training everyone's taste buds to identify beer that's a little off.
"I think all of us together work to make sure that our product is both consistent and also as good as it could be."
Rising Tide's Brewczynski thinks gender is a non-issue, especially at a place like Rising Tide where Heather Sanborn is the co-owner.
"I think it's great that you're able to find a lot of environments where that's not something you have to think about daily. It's not something I think about daily here," she said. "We have a great supportive environment."
And as Dee Dee Germain will tell you, there's always room to grow. It used to be that if you wanted to be in this industry, you had to brew beer. That tends to be physical, so more men were attracted to it than women.
"Now, a lot of breweries are getting larger like us (Allagash) and they have more positions open in different areas be it in marketing, or accounting, or in retail stores, and tasting rooms. So stuff isn't as physically demanding and is more skills-based and can work for men or women."
Making beer a hopped up business for everyone to get in on.