With our GM Alaina Webber celebrating three years with our company, we’re giving her the floor this week to talk a bit about her time here at BG.
Three years ago, Matt, Asa and I sat down over breakfast at Nancy’s Diner in Wilkinsburg, and they officially invited me to join the team as General Manager. Months of discussion led up to the transition from being an occasional Wednesday customer to having my own desk. Now, as a partner, my role has expanded to include work such as operationalizing our values and designing our communication.
One thing that’s remained consistent is being present with people.
Beer has taken me from coast to coast and across the ocean – studying food systems in France with Eating City, gaining inspiration in Toronto at Bellwoods*, touring Allagash and star-gazing after Oxbow’s Goods from the Woods event in Maine, devouring pizza with a bottle of Turbo Bam at The Masonry in Seattle, and spending quiet nights at Proletariat in New York, my favorite city.
All the while, our Braddock taproom remains one of my favorite places in the world. It’s an intentional space – from its physical location on main street to the fresh flowers on the bar. Whether you visit weekly, at the holidays, or in my case, daily, the space is occupied by people who plan on spending time together.
On countless occasions, I’ve quoted Danny Meyer’s foundational book Setting the Table: “Hospitality is the sum of all the thoughtful, caring, gracious things our staff does to make you feel that we are on your side when you are with us.”
It’s easy to think that because we stand behind a bar, we are the ones who practice hospitality. But, truthfully, the last three years for me have been equally marked by receiving a warm welcome – from our team and from you, people who enjoy our beer – as much as extending it.
Brew Gentlemen is comprised of very different individuals – we are practical, conceptual, creative, and technical. Still, in so many ways, our team has shown that they are on my side – which, in turn, gives me courage to exchange a comparable graciousness with strangers (who inevitably become friends!) wherever our beer is poured.
One of my surest convictions is that food and drink belong together as a dual experience – and sharing generously puts people at the center of that picture. Our beer is better alongside brisket, a banh mi, buttermilk fried chicken, and great company. Caring, knowledgeable partners – both those who vend at the taproom and those who run the restaurants and bars we work with and distribute to – are in the arena with us, feeding people well and navigating this business.
On a similar note, our Beer + Yoga teachers Hallie, Becca, and Maryellen have taught me that self-improvement often requires being present in the company of others. At first, I sought out yoga to relax and be alone, but attending a drop-in class quickly multiplied into several sessions per week. Over time, a consistent practice that includes their classes has convinced me: To get stronger, you must first show up.
Operating a brewery, or any business, for that matter, hasn’t gotten (and arguably shouldn’t get) easier over time. Instead, the reward in the work deepens as the problems we want to solve and the change we’re trying to make in the industry comes into clearer focus.
When I consider the last three years, the faces of people who’ve connected with us, along with the conversations and beverages that accompanied those moments, flood my mind and bring a pause. Looking ahead, I’m in awe of how much more there is to share.
You’ve made Brew Gentlemen part of your life, and consequently given me the joy of doing work I love. For both, thank you. If we haven’t met yet, please say hi next time you visit Braddock, or drop us a line in the meantime.
In short, beer is people, and there’s always room at the table.
*A note from Asa, your trusty newsletter author: If this is your favorite brewery newsletter, Bellwoods is ours. Sign up at the bottom of their homepage for a monthly dose of exceptional writing, even if (like us) you don’t live in Toronto.