Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Women of Beer: Amanda Mailey

Amanda Mailey of Magnanimous Brewing in Tampa, Florida

By Kerri Allen

Beer fans, let's give a magnanimous welcome to Amanda Mailey, brewer for, well, Magnanimous Brewing in Tampa. Amanda has an impressive resumé, and she was happy to share her brewing history.

            “I started my beer career at Red Cypress Brewery in Winter Springs, Florida. I was hired as a bartender when the brewery opened in 2015 and was shortly promoted to bar lead. That position led me to come in, clean the tap lines and help out on canning days. I soon realized that I enjoyed working in the brewery and wanted to get back there as much as possible. I was able to start coming in on my days off to help wash kegs. After a few months of working the bar and assisting part-time in the brewery, I was hired full-time in production. Garrett Ward was the head brewer then and took the time to train me. After working on the cellar side, I was eventually trained on the brew deck and was promoted to assistant brewer. Garrett left to open up his own Sideward Brewing, and I was then promoted to head brewer."

After Red Cypress, Amanda got a lead brewer position at Ivanhoe Park Brewing in Orlando. This was the first time she could write her own recipes and brew the beer styles that interested her most. "In 2022, I won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup for our Vienna lager," she recalls. "This award was definitely an exciting moment for me and my career. Honestly, it still seems wild and surreal to think about."

With a desire to be closer to family, Amanda eventually moved back to St. Petersburg. She notes, "Before moving back, I always made Magnanimous Brewing a stop whenever I was in Tampa. I loved the beers they were turning out and knew I wanted to join the team. I started with Magnanimous in June of 2022. When we eventually opened another production facility and taproom in Bradenton, I helped get that location up and running. It’s still rewarding to look around the brewery and see how far it’s come."

Obviously, Amanda ranks as a knowledgeable and passionate member of the craft beer community. When asked what she loves most about being a part of a brewery, she expresses an appreciation for the camaraderie shared between folks in the industry. "It’s cool being able to connect with people not only in your own city and state but also throughout the country," she says. "Not only forming friendships but also knowing that I can reach out and ask for advice and learn about their techniques."

Amanda also loves being creative when concocting new recipes and beers. Magnanimous recently celebrated its third anniversary in October, and Amanda's team tried a variety of barrel-aged beers to decide how to blend them for a few anniversary beers. "It’s fun discovering what flavors everyone else is picking up when comparing tasting notes,” she explains. "This is solid proof that most breweries are families, and teamwork makes the dream work. At the end of the day, I really love going to work and making beer with some rad people who are some of the smartest and funniest people around. It’s always been a good balance of taking the job seriously but also having fun.”

Amanda considers herself fortunate to work for men who have supported and encouraged her career. However, she still notes that her biggest challenge sometimes revolves around being seen as an equal in a male-dominated industry. She adds, "I always feel that I need to prove myself more than my male colleagues. While at work, I hate asking for help because I never want my height or size to stop me from completing a task and then having my coworkers think they have to do my job for me. There have also been countless times I’ve been at a beer festival, and someone automatically asks my male coworker a question about the beers instead of me, even though I’m the one who brewed them. This seems like an issue that many women face in the industry. Women have to sort of over-compensate to be seen as equals. I’ve observed other women in the industry burn out because they feel like they need to push themselves at work and then perform extra duties outside of work to get a seat at the table.”

On the flip side of these challenges, hard work that one enjoys always offers rewards. Amanda notes that her greatest reward revolves around creating a product that many people will enjoy. She declares, “It’s kind of surreal to think that I’ve been brewing for a while now, and I still get a sense of pride and excitement when seeing someone drinking a beer I brewed."

            When asked why women and minorities are vital to the industry and how we can attract more, Amanda responds, “Women and minorities are vital to the beer industry because they bring different perspectives and new ideas. If we want to expand the beer consumer demographic, we need to include people with different backgrounds and perspectives involved in all aspects of beer. This means not only brewing the beer but also being involved in marketing, sales and management.”

Amanda makes the point that everyone in the craft beer industry possesses the power to change the business for the better. Amanda relates, “I enjoy being involved in the industry and making it a safe and welcoming space for everyone. I've been a member of The Pink Boots Society since 2017 and held a board position in the Florida chapter since 2019. I've been the social media manager for the Women's Craft Fermentation Alliance's WIBS Craft Fermentation Summit for the past two years. In South Florida, we also host the FemAle Brew Fest, which showcases women who work in production, marketing, sales, management and brewery ownership. Organizations and events like these help promote women and minorities in the beer industry and attract more."

     Breweries that host Pink Boots Society collaboration brew days help provide education and experience for women. Having the female staff and members of the organization get together to develop a beer recipe, brew the beer and design the label demonstrates that the brewery values women in the industry and points out the wide array of available careers.

            Beer lovers wanting to learn more about Amanda and drink her beer should definitely plan a trip to Tampa. If you are in the area in March, Amanda invites you to swing by Magnanimous Brewing during Tampa Bay Beer Week, which takes place March 2-10. She plans to offer some impressive collaboration brews and special beer releases each day of the celebration. 


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