Oral history interview with Katie Smith, 2018

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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0:00 - Opening credits / interview introduction

0:39 - Background

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Partial Transcript: So Katie can you start by just telling us a little bit about yourself - your background, where you're from, and whatnot.

Segment Synopsis: Smith, an Asheville native, talks about her education at Blue Ridge Community College's brewing program and her first experience in the beer industry at Twin Leaf Brewery.

Keywords: Blue Ridge Community College

5:19 - Resources for growing as a brewer

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Partial Transcript: As you've kind of gone through, other than the Blue Ridge program, what out other kinds of resources have you drawn on to kind of help you grow as a brewer?

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses the importance of the Pink Boots Society and the Asheville Brewers Alliance in providing resources for growing as a brewer.

Keywords: Pink Boots Society

6:29 - Mentors

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Partial Transcript: You've mentioned a couple of specific folks, but are there particular people who you really kind of consider to be mentors or have had a major impact on your career?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about Holly Stevenson, former master brewer at Highland, being her mentor in the profession.

Keywords: Holly Stevenson

7:02 - Favorite parts of the brewing industry

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Partial Transcript: So what would you say is your favorite part of the brewing job?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about the collaboration and sense of community that surrounds the beer industry. She also discusses the joy she feels in getting responses from other people who enjoy her beer.

Keywords: Community

10:24 - Recipe development

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk a little bit about your recipe development process and kind of what goes into some of these small batch beers that y'all do?

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses her recipe development process, including how she draws inspiration from cooking shows on television.

11:57 - Least favorite part of being a brewer

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Partial Transcript: You know we talked about your favorite part, what would you say is your least favorite part of being a brewer?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about the challenging hours that brewers work, including very early days and lack of consistency.

12:51 - Production cycle at Highland

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Partial Transcript: You're schedule shifts around, but do y'all have like a typical, could you say there is a typical production cycle?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about a typical production cycle at Highland, where they have a daily production of four 50-barrel batches of beer.

14:39 - Changes to the brewing industry since she entered the field

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Partial Transcript: Thinking industry wide, where do you see brewing going? Actually before we do that, lets reflect back because you've been doing this for awhile.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about some of the changes to the brewing field since she first entered, including a bit more focus on gimmicks

16:32 - Future trends in the beer industry

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Partial Transcript: And thinking forward though, what trends do you see moving forward or where do you see brewing going in five, six years?

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses the growing interest in home brewing and how it may lead to more people thinking commercial brewing is similar and easy.

18:24 - Favorite styles of beer

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Partial Transcript: Do you have a particular style that you like the best?

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses her interest in incorporating flowers and foraged ingredients into beers.

19:43 - Beginning work at Highland

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Partial Transcript: You know, you kinda touched on this already, but let's talk a little bit about when you first came to Highland.

Segment Synopsis: Smith notes that, having grown up in Asheville, she was very familiar with Highland from a young age. She says that her first beer after turning 21 was a Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

21:26 - Defining the main mission of Highland

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Partial Transcript: How would you define the main mission of Highland or the theme? However you want to think about it.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about Highland being trailblazers for Asheville beer.

22:32 - Highland's signature Gaelic Ale and other beers

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Partial Transcript: This is probably an easy question. What would you say is Highland's signature beer?

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses Highland's flagship beer, the Gaelic Ale, an American amber. She also talks about other Highland standards.

25:25 - Highland's rebranding efforts

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned the rebranding a second ago. Did you guys change any of the recipes with the rebranding or was it really just the packaging?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about Highland's rebranding effort, which included a slight change to the IPA recipe as well as the growing interest in Highland's taproom space.

29:45 - Bringing her personality to Highland

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Partial Transcript: At kind of a well-established brand like Highland, how do you kind of insert your brewing philosophy, your personality, into what you're doing?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about how she brings her personality to Highland through organization and serving as a bridge to the local community.

30:46 - Collaboration brews

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Partial Transcript: I want to talk about collabs, because this is one of the things we haven't asked a lot of folks about and I actually find it really interesting.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about the process of starting or joining a collaboration brew, in which multiple brewers or breweries participate in beer creation.

32:26 - Being a woman brewer

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Partial Transcript: I don't need to tell you that brewing is stereotypically categorized. People tend to think that you're required to have a beard to brew beer.

Segment Synopsis: Smith notes that, when she tells people she works at Highland, they seem shocked when she says she is a brewer.

34:02 - Pink Boots Society scholarship and travel to Germany

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Partial Transcript: You've already talked about Pink Boots a couple of times, but let's talk more about Pink Boots.

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses her experience in Germany on a scholarship sponsored by the Pink Boots Society.

Keywords: Pink Boots Society; Sister Doris Engelhard

38:05 - Growth of the Pink Boots Society of Asheville

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Partial Transcript: So Pink Boots also has kind of, in the state, gone from one state wide group to now kind of regional or even city groups.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about the importance of local Pink Boots Society chapters in North Carolina. She also discusses the annual Biere de Femme festival, which showcases beer brewed by women.

Keywords: Biere de femme; Pink Boots Society

41:37 - Advice for a woman looking to become a brewer

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Partial Transcript: If we had a woman wander in right now and say she wanted to be a brewer, what would your advice for just getting into the industry or getting involved in brewing?

Segment Synopsis: Smith discusses the importance of volunteering for any position in a brewery as a way to build a network.

42:26 - Favorite part of working in the North Carolina beer industry

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Partial Transcript: What do you enjoy most about the North Carolina industry, North Carolina beer, working in that field?

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about North Carolina's abundance of resources to support the beer industry.

43:35 - Favorite beer from a North Carolina brewery other than Highland

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Partial Transcript: We've got the fun and difficult question for you.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about her love of helles and lagers, as well as specific beers from Hi-Wire, Fonta Flora, and Zebulon.

Keywords: Mike Karnowski

44:47 - Hobbies and interests outside of brewing

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Partial Transcript: When you're not here, when you're not brewing, what do you enjoy doing?

Segment Synopsis: Smith notes that she spends most of her time working on Pink Boots Society and Asheville Beer Week, but she also enjoys hiking and being outside.

45:16 - Asheville Beer Week

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Partial Transcript: One thing that I wanted to ask about is Asheville Beer Week.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about all of the activities and events that take place during Asheville Beer Week.

Keywords: Asheville Beer Week

48:48 - Changes to Asheville in recent years

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Partial Transcript: I think kind of the growth of something like that can parallel a lot of the changes that are here in Asheville.

Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about the growth of Asheville's beer industry and how it has impacted tourism.

53:20 - Interview conclusion / closing credits

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Partial Transcript: Well that wraps up the questions that I came with.

0:00

Erin Lawrimore: All righty, let's start by having you say and spell your name.

Katie Smith: My name is Katie Smith, spelled K-A-T-I-E, Smith, S-M-I-T-H.

Erin Lawrimore: What's your title here?

Katie Smith: I am a brewer at Highland Brewing.

Erin Lawrimore: Okay. Today is Friday, June 29th, we're at Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina, doing an interview for the Well Crafted NC project. Katie, can you start by just telling us a little bit about yourself, your background, where you're from and whatnot?

Katie Smith: I'm born and raised in Asheville, I always tell people it's like almost finding a unicorn, because no one's from here actually. Yeah, so born and raised in Asheville, grew up in Arden, which is like the suburbs of Asheville I guess. Then I actually danced my whole life, tap, jazz, ballet, and was too 1:00short to be a dancer like professionally, so I went into nursing school, wasn't a big fan of that. Then turned 21, and I was like, "You know what? I kind of like this whole beer thing that's happening in Asheville," like you know I kind of thought, "Why don't I do marketing?"

Katie Smith: I thought, "Okay, I can't market a product unless I know it," so Blue Ridge Community College had just started their brewing program, I think they were in their second semester or something like that, so living in Arden, I was like, you know AB-Tech [Asheville Buncombe Technical College] also had one, but I was like, "I'll do Blue Ridge," because they were partnered with Oskar Blues. Went and started the brew program there, and one of the cool things was it was like, the first class was you sit in a classroom on Mondays for like three hours, and then on Wednesdays you go and do hands on stuff at Oskar Blues, 2:00which is really cool.

Katie Smith: I took that class and like a sensory class, I also took a welding class, because I was like, "You know, make me more marketable." The first class I took, I kind of automatically fell in love with the brewery and just the whole recipe creation and doing all that. I was like, "Yeah, I think I'm going to switch over to maybe brewing." My teacher at Oskar Blues actually inspired me too, because he worked at Craggy Brewing way back when, started out just working for beer. He's like, "You know, if you want to get into it, just go volunteer somewhere." I emailed anybody and everybody in Asheville, like I mean everybody, I was like, "You know what? I'll come in, I'll stir in hops, I'll scrub the floor, whatever."

Katie Smith: I emailed Twin Leaf, which was up and coming, they had a building, 3:00but that was about it. One of the owners emailed me back and was like, "We don't need anybody, but we need a bartender," and I was like, "Great." I interviewed for that, got the job, and I mean I was there painting walls, babysitting their child, cleaning up dust and debris and wood and everything before they opened, because you know it was like a good little while before they opened, which was really cool to see that, and still in school at the time for brewing. Twin Leaf opens, the assistant brewer they had, lo and behold his wife all of the sudden is pregnant, so it's like, "Okay, well we're going to move back home closer to family," so that position was open.

Katie Smith: I remember I was sitting with the two owners of Twin Leaf at Burial drinking a beer, and we were talking and he's like, "I'm going to have to hire help, like I can't do this by myself." I was like, "Well, I'm in school for it, 4:00why don't I try it out?" They were like, "You know, yeah, we'll talk about it and see," so then that following Monday they were like, "Yeah, so we'll see how this goes." Actually I left school, I hadn't finished it yet, but it was bartending and brewing, yeah, so I had no life for a good couple years. I loved Twin Leaf because I got to do the marketing side, I was brewing, I was bartending, I literally hand delivered kegs in the back of my car, so miss that from like the small brewery.

Katie Smith: After that, I mean I just had no life. I was like, "Okay, I need something with benefits and have an adult job," kind of thing. I actually met Holly Stevenson, who used to be our master brewer, and she was like, "You know, 5:00well we're looking for a person at Highland, do you want to come and apply?", and I was like, "Sure." Came and applied here and got the job, and it's been almost three years now.

Erin Lawrimore: Wow.

Katie Smith: Yeah.

Erin Lawrimore: As you've kind of gone through, other than the Blue Ridge program, what other kinds of resources have you drawn on to kind of help you grow as a brewer?

Katie Smith: Definitely Pink Boots has been awesome. I mean, one of the last meetings we had was a marketing panel, which has been so helpful just outside of stuff, because I'm also on the Asheville Beer Week committee and I'm the chapter leader here in Asheville for Pink Boots Society, so that has helped. Also the Asheville Brewer's Alliance in Asheville has been great, I've gone to malt conferences when there was the whole thing with ALE, there was a meeting about 6:00that, we talked to the board people of ALE and they talked about how much you can serve, all this other stuff. I mean, just yeah, I would say Asheville Brewer's Alliance and Pink Boots, and there's some awesome craft brewer conferences that you can go to as well, but usually it's kind of a sales pitch as well.

Erin Lawrimore: Yeah. You mentioned a couple of specific folks, but are there particular people who you really kind of consider to be mentors or have made a major impact on your career?

Katie Smith: I would probably say Holly, because she's always like the person if I have a question, I'll text her, even now that she's in Baltimore, I'll be hitting up Holly, and just because she's being a female in this industry. Unlike me, she has traveled all over, so she's seen all kinds of different things, so she's a great resource for all that.

7:00

Erin Lawrimore: What would you say is your favorite part of the brewing job?

Katie Smith: Well, other than the beer of course, I mean I guess the community is by far my favorite, just because we have such an amazing community in Asheville. Actually the day it flooded here, when you guys couldn't come up, we were in a frenzy because we could not brew one of our beers because we were a bag short of chocolate malt. Lo and behold, I text Hi-Wire and I say, "Hey, can we borrow a bag of malt? We have somebody coming in and they can pick it up on their way in," and they're like, "Yeah, totally." I mean, and I've done that when I was at Twin Leaf where it's like, "Shit, we don't have yeast, we don't have this malt, hold on, let me text somebody."

Katie Smith: That's by far I think my favorite part, I mean it's not day to day stuff, but just having that network around you is amazing. Day to day, it's 8:00just, I don't know, it's a good feeling, like even though you're sweating your ass off and you come home smelling like beer and you're sticky, I mean at the end of the day, I always tell people, because my parents are both teachers, so I'm like, "You know, I never was going to be a teacher ever," having parents as teachers. I was like, "The best thing about my job is like you know what, when you have a shitty day, you just walk a few steps and there's a beer right there." It makes the day so much better.

Katie Smith: You're like, "You know what? I made this, so it's not as terrible as it could be." I guess it's just having that feeling at the end of the day where it's like, "You know what? It's not that bad, I can do this."

Erin Lawrimore: Can you talk a little bit more about kind of the feeling that 9:00you get when you are able to just drink a beer and be like, "Oh, that's mine"?

Katie Smith: It's still really weird kind of. I mean, like my boyfriend will say, because we'll be out and about and someone's drinking Highland, and he's like, "You realize you made that." I'm like, "Yeah, it's probably 100% true that I made that," but still it's just weird to see that out. When I go out of state and see the Highland beer and I'm like, "Yeah, I made that," that's weird to see that big of a reach. I do, I remember my first beer I ever made, like my recipe, everything, was at Twin Leaf. God, for like the whole week I was looking on Untappd to see reviews and all this other stuff, which I no longer have because it's just, people with technology and opinions doesn't work too well sometimes.

Katie Smith: Yeah, it's a really cool feeling, and it's a cool feeling to have 10:00people come up to me and they're like, "Oh my God, I love that," like especially small batches, because you have something that you put a lot more time into, whereas Gaelic, I mean I tell people I could brew it with my eyes closed. When you make a recipe and do that whole thing, it's really cool, it makes you feel good.

Erin Lawrimore: Can you talk a little bit about your recipe development process, and kind of what goes into some of these small batch beers that y'all do?

Katie Smith: Well, actually so the first ... Well no, because I mean I've made a few beers for Pink Boots, like Biere de Femme and all that other stuff, and like the big collaboration brew, but that was like a joint effort between me and Holly. It's really like, you know you're kind of out drinking beer and you see something cool. One thing I do love is watching the Cooking Channel, and any new 11:00weird thing, like Chopped is great, because you'll find all these weird things and you're like, "What the hell is that?" Then you think, "That would be cool in that beer," and so it's just kind of like your mind is playing with all these ideas.

Katie Smith: I was telling somebody, because me and another brewer are working on these beers, and the next one I want to make is like a beer-wine hybrid, but of course it's like our smallest system is a three-barrel, so I'm like I still don't want to dump three barrels of beer. I don't home brew anymore, because it's like I just don't want to go home and brew more, but it's really fun to just mess with all that. You just have to in your head think about what goes with what and go eat a lot of raw malt, or like malt out of the bag.

Erin Lawrimore: We talked about your favorite part, what would you say is your least favorite part of being a brewer?

12:00

Katie Smith: Probably the hours. At the moment, we are upping production and I've been coming in at 3:00 a.m., 4:30, yeah, and our last person usually gets out at like 12:30 at night. I mean, and now so I've been on the 6:00 a.m. or earlier shift for the past three weeks, and now I'm shifting to the four to midnight shift for the next three weeks. I mean, you have no schedule. That's by far I think the hardest part, and that's production style, so it is what it is. It's like my body does not want to do manual labor at 11:00 at night, so yeah, it's hard to get used to that.

Erin Lawrimore: Your schedule shifts around, but do y'all have like a typical, could you say there's a typical production cycle, what does that look like here?

13:00

Katie Smith: Typically before we started upping our amount, we typically come in at 6:00 and then leave at midnight, and we will brew four batches of beer that day, so four 50-barrel batches. I mean, we'll split it either we have 200-barrel tanks and 100-barrel tanks, and now we actually have two 50-barrel tanks, so we'll do two different beers in a day or one beer. Then in the winter, it's kind of nice because we'll brew a beer, brew last clean, and then foam and clean and take apart stuff and do maintenance. It's a little bit more chill in the winter, but yeah, it's mash in at 6:00 a.m., mash in at 9:10, mash in at like 2:00, and then 6:00.

Erin Lawrimore: Can you talk a little bit about how much you're producing, how 14:00many beers you usually could have go in at once?

Katie Smith: Well, I think we're up to 26 fermenters and seven brite tanks, and so recently we've been brewing like 1,100 barrels a week. A half barrel is 31 gallons, so 62 gallons times 1,100 is a week.

Erin Lawrimore: Wow, that's a lot.

Katie Smith: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Erin Lawrimore: Thinking industry-wide, where do you see brewing going? I mean, you know and actually before we do that, let's reflect back, because you've been doing this for a while now, how has brewing changed since you started?

Katie Smith: Well, just the kind of ridiculousness on the market at times I 15:00think of first. It's kind of gimmicky at times, and personally I am all for simple lagers, like a good, clean beer. I always tell people, I'm like, "That's I feel like the hardest thing to make, because you can't cover it up with hops and all that other shit." Just the stuff I see on the market now, it's like I don't even want to drink that. Like I saw something on Facebook about an avocado beer, and there's a beer in Asheville, I don't know if it's still around, but they put pizza in it. Yeah, and I love pizza, but no. I'm kind of thinking back to probably even before I was able to brew or anything, where it's like, "God, I miss those good, solid beers."

Katie Smith: Now, it's not really beer. I don't know, and it's funny because the 16:00big thing with women right now I guess is the glitter beer, which I'm like, "No," because I am not a big pink or glitter or any of that fan, was a long time ago, but I'm like, "No, I am not putting glitter in my beer." If you can somehow put it in a kettle, people are going to do it.

Erin Lawrimore: Thinking forward though, what trends do you see moving forward, or where do you see brewing going in five, six years?

Katie Smith: Who knows? Well, that's like I do think it's interesting, I've been seeing stuff about people can buy these small little home brew things, where it's like literally a coffee pot almost type situation. Yeah, there's some that have, it looks like a liter soda bottle and it has the extract or whatever, you 17:00put it in this machine and it takes like two weeks or something and you have your own beer. They're like yay big, and I'm like, "That beer can't be good." That's I guess one of those things, I don't know if it's going to last, but people will love the idea they can be a hipster and make their own craft beer at home.

Katie Smith: I think one thing is, everybody's going to think, "Oh yeah, I can make craft beer at home." Actually, we've kind of seen this in Asheville, because we have AB-Tech and Blue Ridge here and because it's such a big beer area, we have a lot of people who think, "Oh, I can make beer, I'm going to open a brewery." It's like no, no, so I mean I've talked to people, the question is, "When is the bubble going to burst?", or whatever, and I've heard it phrased 18:00differently too, but I don't know if it's going to reach a peak where people are making shitty beer at home and shitty beer is flooding the market. I don't know, I hope to God it doesn't happen, but I want to go back to the simplistic thing personally.

Erin Lawrimore: Do you have a particular style that you like the best, a nice basic?

Katie Smith: Yes, that and one thing I played around with at Twin Leaf was like flower beers or beers that you forage for ingredients. Like Fonta Flora does a lot of cool stuff like that, I'm trying to think of who else, Burial has done some stuff like that, and I've talked to Tim a lot, I heard he was just overseas talking about flower beers. It's just kind of cool to have that hippy-dippy kind 19:00of Mother Earth connecting with the beer, and it all being natural. That I think is one of my favorite things, is the natural adjuncts, and it's kind of even going back to like mead and dandelion wine, stuff like that.

Katie Smith: It's going way, way, way back, so stuff like that, and I love any good crisp lager. Like the first beer I made here after coming back from Germany was a helles, and it was delicious, so yeah.

Erin Lawrimore: You kind of touched on this already, but let's talk a little bit about when you first came to Highland. What was it that initially attracted you to the position here?

Katie Smith: Mainly just Highland having such a big, like I guess footprint or whatever in Asheville. Growing up here, I was telling somebody the other day, at 20:00a young age I saw my first kegerator at my uncle's house, and he had Green Man and Highland on tap. I mean, Highland was always a thing for me. Even like Barley's where they started, every year for my birthday because I love pizza, I always go to Barley's for my birthday celebration kind of get-together with family, so it's kind of that connection with Barley's and Highland and all that. I do remember on my 21st birthday, the first beer I ordered was a Cold Mountain, so that was pretty cool.

Katie Smith: Now it's like I make it, and that's amazing just to see that line that is outside, it's like Christmastime here, it's great. Yeah, it's just they've been such a big impact on this community. I was kind of giddy when I got 21:00the job here, that it's like, "I'm going to work for Highland Brewing, that's awesome, like they've stood the test of time kind of in Asheville." I still wish if I was only born like three years later, we could've had the same birthday, but that would've been a whole different thing, but whatever.

Erin Lawrimore: So close.

Katie Smith: I know, I know. My brother was the same year, but yeah, yeah.

Erin Lawrimore: How would you define the main mission of Highland, or the theme, however you want to think of it?

Katie Smith: I was about to say, well so mainly because I was here for the whole rebranding thing, the new thing is we're like, I can't think of the word, but we're trailblazers or something like that, so like paving the path for craft beer in Asheville. I would say Highland is not typically very gimmicky with 22:00their beer, it's kind of true to Highland, except for our pilot batches do get a little weird, but it's like we're here, we've changed a little bit but we're still kind of the same Highland that was here so many years ago.

Erin Lawrimore: This is probably an easy question, what would you say is Highland's signature beer?

Katie Smith: Gaelic.

Erin Lawrimore: Can you talk a little bit about what goes into Gaelic?

Katie Smith: Yeah. Well, it's two row, C40, C60, and extra special, and then you have, crap, I think is it centennial? I can see the box and where it is in the hop cooler, yeah, I think it's centennial for the boil, and then Willamette and 23:00cascade for the whirlpool. I've never actually been a huge fan of Gaelic, it's a good beer, I appreciate that, but it's typically not my style. I do love it, even when I worked at Twin Leaf I had people come up to me, they're like, "So what beer do you have that tastes like Gaelic?", and I'm like, "How am I going to answer that?", because there's not really that much in town that's like Gaelic.

Katie Smith: I mean, my brother loves it, people just love that beer. It's like Coca-Cola in the south or something, I don't know. Yeah, and you know we make it at least once or twice a week, so it's one of those beers.

24:00

Erin Lawrimore: Can you talk a little bit about some of the other standards that you guys have here?

Katie Smith: Well, I mean I remember the first beer I ever tried from Highland was St. T's {Saint Terese's Dry-Hopped Pale Ale], and my mom still adores that beer. At the moment, my favorite here is Daycation, which it's just super light. I mean, the thing is it's like I'm usually like, I'm out and about with people and it's like I want to have more than one beer, so these eight, 10-whatever-percent beers, it's like, "No, I don't want that." We have Gaelic, St. T's, Oatmeal Porter, Mocha Stout, and then the pilsner, and then the AVL IPA, which is good, but I'm not a big IPA fan personally, like super hoppy. Like 25:00one of my favorite seasonals is Thunderstruck, even though I don't drink coffee, that is just an amazing beer. Then Cold Mountain, everybody goes crazy for that, which I mean it's a good beer, but you know, yeah, it's not-

Erin Lawrimore: Sometimes you go crazy for tradition.

Katie Smith: Yeah, it's just like that Christmas feeling, so it's exciting.

Erin Lawrimore: You mentioned the rebranding a second ago, did you guys change any of the recipes with the rebranding, or was it really just the packaging?

Katie Smith: We did change the IPA, we had the just straight up IPA and we changed it slightly to now AVL IPA, and that's just I think we changed the hops a little bit so it's a more smooth beer.

Erin Lawrimore: When we were talking with Leah [Wong Ashburn, president and CEO of Highland Brewing] earlier, she was talking about the rebranding, kind of the way that they went about it and that it was a lot of staff feedback. Can you talk about that a little bit from staff perspective?

26:00

Katie Smith: Yeah, I mean well I do still love Scotty and always will, but you see all these breweries coming up around you and it's like they're hip and cool, and you go out and you see all these young people, and then you come to our tasting room and there's like 80-year-olds and children, and you're like, "I kind of want to go be with younger people." I think that was one of the big things that we saw as staff, and then you talk to people from out of town or around town, and it's like, "Oh, where do you want to go drink a beer," and it's like they want to go to south slope or somewhere like that. It's like, "Well, but there's Highland," and it's like, "Yeah, but you know ... Yeah, kind of meh."

Katie Smith: Now we're having amazing concerts out here and we have the rooftop 27:00and the meadow and the event center, so there's always something going on here, which is kind of cool.

Erin Lawrimore: Just because we're on film and can't really show it, can you describe just kind of where in town we are?

Katie Smith: Not in the most populous area I guess. Well, compared to other breweries, but I mean we're probably 15 minutes from downtown, where you have like south slope, you have, God, probably five or more breweries within two blocks, which is great because then all the drunk people just stumble from one to another. It's like yeah, that was one thing that I was kind of iffy about starting at Highland was, Highland you have to drive to, like you have to make a point. It is cool because when you come out here, you know I mean we have turkeys living out here, and they love the sound of our mill because it sounds 28:00like a turkey call. They'll come out and like hang out in the field, and it's nice because we do have so much more space out here and you don't get the super intoxicated people, because it's like you have to make a point to come out here, but I mean we still get a good amount, but not as many.

Katie Smith: I mean, God, at south slope you'll be down there and people will be asking for shots at breweries, and you're like, "No, no, no, go home, go home, yeah."

Erin Lawrimore: Do you find that sometimes the folks who would make the point to come out to a place like this are a bit more, I don't know, "beer educated" sounds kind of silly, but like more knowledgeable?

Katie Smith: Considering I saw a guy chug a 16-ounce Burial beer, yes. At Burial, I was like, "mm-mm [negative], yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."

Erin Lawrimore: Yeah, and their stuff's heavy.

Katie Smith: Oh yeah, oh yeah, yeah. I have yet to see that here, thank God. 29:00Actually it kind of reminds me of Sierra Nevada, where it's like you make a point to come out. I mean, by no means are we the Disney World of beer, but they have the intent of ... There's a lot of beer nerds, and like we have a home brew club and they come out here, or I see the people in that group come out here. It's usually like people who, they want to be here, not just chugging a beer.

Erin Lawrimore: Yeah, and it's a beautiful space.

Katie Smith: Oh yeah, especially in the summer and the fall.

Erin Lawrimore: At kind of a well-established brand like Highland, how do you kind of insert your brewing philosophy or personality into what you're doing?

Katie Smith: The biggest thing is organizing all the documents in the back and stuff, guys love me for that. I feel like every time we have somebody filming in 30:00the back, I'm like running around with paperwork, I'm like, "They probably think I'm the secretary back here, not that I'm actually brewing." There's that, and me being out in the community with Asheville Beer Week and Pink Boots, and just growing up here, actually I think out of all of our brewers, well actually out of all of Highland, there's only like three people who actually grew up in Asheville. Me knowing a lot of the whole Asheville thing really helps, I mean I've set up collabs with the Whale and stuff like that, so that always helps a lot.

Erin Lawrimore: I want to talk about collabs, because this is one of the things we haven't asked a lot of folks about, and I actually find it really interesting. Can you talk about the process of starting a collab, or even joining into?

Katie Smith: Yeah, I mean it's typically, well I mean the joke is that it's always like it's a good excuse to go hang out with your friends and chill for a 31:00day, so that's pretty much ... I mean, I know the people in the office will, they have the reasoning behind it and all this other stuff, but ultimately as a brewer, we kind of see it as like, "Oh, you know I like their beer, I'm friends with them, great. You guys have the same kind of interest in beer or we want to learn from you," that kind of thing is how I see it starting out. It's so funny because it's just funny to watch, because it always ends up with one person brewing and the other people just standing around talking, because it's like we've even joked, we're like, "Well, because if it's multiple people, it's like yeah, you can go throw in a handful of hops each."

Katie Smith: Especially on the tiny system, it's like you're kind of on top of somebody if you all try to do it. It's typically a small group of people, and 32:00then you get the most people there for photos, of course to promote it. Yeah, it's usually just a super chill day of hanging out.

Erin Lawrimore: Doesn't sound like a bad day at work.

Katie Smith: No, no, no, and then they usually bring beer to drink after.

Erin Lawrimore: We don't need to tell you that brewing is stereotypically categorized, people tend to think that you're required to have a beard to brew beer. Do you feel that you faced challenges in brewing, not necessarily in the industry or associated-

Katie Smith: Well, actually last night I was asked by another brewer in town, because I said, "Yeah, I work at Highland," and they're like, "Oh, you work in the lab?" I'm like, "No, I brew," "Oh, okay." I'm like, "Really?" Actually, one year for Halloween, I went as a brewer and wore a fake beard and what I wear 33:00every day for work, it was the most comfortable Halloween costume ever, it was great. Like the guys here, I think at first, well they even told me they didn't know how to take it, because they felt like they were being censored somewhat and couldn't be typical guy "locker room talk", whatever you want to call it. Then they actually got to know me and it's like, "Okay, yeah, you're ... Yeah."

Katie Smith: I mean, I grew up with two brothers, so yeah, but I mean it's ... Like you know talking to Sarah [Gulotta, brewer at Hi-Wire], Sarah's not your typical girly girl and fits in with the guys just as well as I do. I actually kind of prefer working with all guys, because you don't deal with all the drama and all that other shit, it's like point blank, yeah, so yeah.

34:00

Erin Lawrimore: You've already talked about Pink Boots a couple of times, but let's talk more about Pink Boots. You had a Pink Boots scholarship to go to Germany, can you talk a little bit about your experience there and just how you see it benefiting you down the road?

Katie Smith: It was amazing, it was the first time I had ever left the country. I was actually a little hesitant or didn't know what to expect, because I was on this trip for two weeks with women, and I was like, "Oh God, I'm going to have to spend every single minute with all these women." They actually were amazing, they were all Pink Boot members. It was just, I mean, and just like the tradition they had with the beer there was ... We met the last brewing nun in the world, yeah, Sister Doris, who was amazing, I loved that they have like a 35:00little piece of paper kind of over the beer that she ... It was like a flip top, and you can only buy her beer from her there, and she said you always have to drink it from the bottle, because that's the only time you'll ever get to kiss a nun, because her picture is on the thing.

Katie Smith: She was amazing, and she talked about how she hated computers, so she had an assistant brewer that did all the computer work. She was a spitfire, but she was amazing, and just I mean going to the hop farms. I tell people if I didn't love Asheville as much as I did and my whole family wasn't here, I would move to Germany in a second. We went to a lot of little small towns, and you know like they have like one brewery and that's the brewery for the town. One thing that I thought was really cool was Zoigl beer, where they have one 36:00brewery, like it's only in a certain part of Germany, and there's these little towns and each town has one brewery.

Katie Smith: These old men go and make ... Or well, no, I think there's one person who makes it, and it's a coal-fired brewery, yeah, oh yeah. They make the beer, then they put it in these metal containers that they have on the back of a truck, and there's places in town that are homes that are Zoigl homes, and you have to go through this whole process if you want to be one, and these people, we went to one that ... Well, we went to two, but they move the beer to these locations, and at that location they ferment the beer and then serve it at their house. This one place we went had, oh God it was hilarious, they had this extra shed thing that you go, and I mean they make food for you and all this other stuff. Their children were actually serving us beer, I mean like yay big, and 37:00they kept tally of what you got on the back of your coaster. Yeah, and then you pay at the end.

Erin Lawrimore: That's a pretty awesome setup.

Katie Smith: Yeah. You're on these long skinny little German-style seating with all these people in the town, and yeah, it's these people's house. Then we went to another one that was very similar to that, and it was an amazing experience, and every beer is different because everybody ferments it differently, and different yeast and different all that stuff. That was pretty amazing to see that, like just that kind of ... Yeah, they just make amazing beer, and it's just they don't ... Like they have the Reinheitsgebot, so you can't use anything except water, malt, hops and yeast, so they're not putting all this random shit like we do in beer, which was nice. I feel like it's a true craft over there, because you have to get creative with just those ingredients. It was amazing.

38:00

Erin Lawrimore: Pink Boots also has kind of in this state gone from one statewide, I guess, group to now kind of regional or even city groups. Can you talk a little bit about both that change, but also your involvement here?

Katie Smith: Actually, Holly got me started on Pink Boots, and started like three years ago. It was like we had an Asheville chapter but not really, and then we kind of started like a Raleigh chapter, and it was Anita [Riley] who works at Lone Rider now, and Jordan who works for Central State, and Caroline [Parnin] who's at Lallemand. They kind of started it in Raleigh, and because Anita was in Raleigh it was easy for her, and Caroline and Jordan both moved a 39:00lot for work, so it was easy for them to go to meetings. I'm like, "Okay, I'm stuck in Asheville and I can't leave because I've got to be up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow to brew."

Katie Smith: We kind of, there was lots of emails and phone calls and texts, and just kind of started it like that. Then we realized when Jordan was in Shelby that we'll split it to two sides of the state. It was like me and Jordan, I got the call from Jordan, she's like, "Do you want to help me do this thing?", and I was like, "Sure." Me and Jordan did it, and then Anita and Caroline did like Raleigh, and that's when we started the whole Biere de Femme, which is the festival that 100% of the proceeds go to Pink Boots Society, and we have only breweries that employ women, they're the only ones that are allowed to come, and 40:00they make a beer for the festival. Actually, we're having the 2019 Biere de Femme here, so just got that email the other day.

Erin Lawrimore: Highland, here?

Katie Smith: Yeah, in the event center.

Erin Lawrimore: Awesome.

Katie Smith: Yeah, so it'll be indoor and indoor bathrooms, very excited about that. Because the first year we had it, it snowed outside on us, it was freezing. We move it around to make it easier for everybody, but so 2019 will be our third year doing it.

Erin Lawrimore: I think one of the cool things about the Biere de Femme beers is that it involves not just the brewers, you're bringing in all the other staff. Can you talk like just from the brewer's perspective about the benefit of bringing other women from across the company in?

Katie Smith: From what I've seen, they get so excited, because it's like you know ... I mean, I love it because I'm like, "This is what I do every day. It's kind of boring, and you get disgusting at the end of the day. By all means, do 41:00whatever you want." God, I love when we do the collabs, because everybody wants to stir the mash. I'm like, "Yes, please, go, go stir, go stir, I'll take pictures for you, go do that, yeah." God, it's great, I love those days. It's awesome, and you know they geek out on it and think it's so cool. It's exciting to see that, because it's like yeah, you know well yeah, come hang out with me in the back some more. You're more than welcome to, it's a lot of fun. I do love seeing them so excited about stuff like that.

Erin Lawrimore: If we had a woman wander in right now and say she wanted to be a brewer, what would be your advice for just like getting into the industry or getting involved in brewing?

Katie Smith: I think the best advice is to like start volunteering. I've heard of a lot of people, male and female, who have started just by being like the barfly, like going to one brewery and knowing the owners. I kind of raised my 42:00hand for Tim and Steph, but yeah, you know if you hear them say like, "Oh, well you know yeah, we're probably going to have to get some extra help," and it's like, "I'll do it." That, and like volunteering I think is the best thing to do.

Erin Lawrimore: What do you enjoy most about the North Carolina industry, North Carolina beer, working in that field.

Katie Smith: The community of course, but I do feel like ... We have a lot of resources in North Carolina, like we have river bend malt, and we do have a few small hop farms that are just owned by a family or something like that. It's really cool because we can do so much, we can make beer made with all 43:00ingredients from North Carolina, which I know a lot of other states can't say, which is really cool because especially being from here, it's like yeah, I want to use local stuff, and we've made beer with local honey. It goes back to the Asheville thing of keep Asheville local, so I think that's one of the coolest things that North Carolina kind of stands out with.

Erin Lawrimore: We've got the fun and difficult question for you. What's your favorite beer from a North Carolina brewery other than your own?

Katie Smith: That's hard.

Erin Lawrimore: Or what are just some of the beers you enjoy from other breweries?

Katie Smith: Any brewery that makes a good helles or lager I love, I've been drinking a lot of Hi-Wire lager and gose recently, and like Fonta Flora, just 44:00because they're kind of out-of-the-box but not to the point of putting pizza in a beer, but kind of out-of-the-box but keeping it local and keeping it ... Looking back to old recipes. Another one is Zebulon, Mike is awesome. He's a big one on bringing back old beer recipes. He has a book, I don't know where he found it, but it's old old old recipes that he's had to revamp and kind of do. He's a genius sometimes at beer, but sometimes if you can talk to him long enough, he's not big on being people thing, yeah, so yeah, he's funny.

Erin Lawrimore: When you're not here, when you're not brewing, what do you enjoy doing?

Katie Smith: Pink Boots, well it's usually Pink Boots and Asheville Beer Week, or it feels like it's been like that recently. Typically it's going out hiking, 45:00well yeah, taking my dogs out, going to breweries, just kind of enjoying Asheville and all it has.

Erin Lawrimore: One thing that I wanted to ask about is Asheville Beer Week. Can you talk a little bit about the work you've done with Asheville Beer Week and just what it is?

Katie Smith: Well, it's actually hard to fit in a week. Yeah, yeah.

Erin Lawrimore: There's a lot of beer in Asheville.

Katie Smith: Oh yes, and now we've added like, so we now have distilleries in Asheville too, and so we've let them come in as well. Actually, there's going to be, I talked to somebody that owns distillery, there is going to be a North Carolina spirits festival coming up, or September or something like that. It's all kinds of stuff, we start out with the first little party, and then it goes 46:00into ... Highland did like a throwback with old beer and a dance party, we did ... I forgot what else we did, because it's a little difficult, I was out on the ground taking pictures for social media, along with multiple other people, because it's like there's you know at least five events a day.

Katie Smith: Thirsty Monk does a not-so-big beer festival that has high gravity beers, and there's beer dinners, and what is it, Hi-Wire does a barbecue sauce competition that you have to add one of their beers to the barbecue sauce. They did a music and beer pairing event, that was interesting. One I remember last year, Tasty Beverage did a Bojangle's and beer pairing, that was actually really 47:00good, it was cool. Then it ends with Beer City Fest, which all the breweries in the area come. It's a cool festival, and people dress up for it and all kinds of stuff, but we typically try to do a collaboration brew or something like that. This year we kind of did something different, where we asked brewers in town if they have the space and wanted to, they could make an IPA, that's the only restriction we had.

Katie Smith: We're like, "Just make an IPA," and name and promote it as the Asheville Beer Week collab, which we had a few breweries do which was cool. We're still trying to find the perfect way to have them all work together and collab, because putting a bunch of brewers together in one room and trying to come out with a brew ... God, one year we came out with a white stout, and it was terrible, I was not a fan. Then everybody has to bring a keg to fill, and it's a whole thing. That's one thing we're still working on, but it's a lot of 48:00fun and people come in from all over the country to come to this. It's pretty intense, like a friend of mine who was on the board mentioned it to me, she's like, "Yeah, you should come into one of these meetings." I did, and been on it now for, it was before I came to Highland, so maybe four years.

Erin Lawrimore: Do you know how long it's been going on?

Katie Smith: I think this year was like the eighth, yeah, possibly.

Erin Lawrimore: It doesn't predate you by that much in the industry.

Katie Smith: No, no, no.

Erin Lawrimore: I mean, I think kind of the growth of something like that can parallel a lot of the changes that are here in Asheville. That's kind of I guess the last question that I have to ask, is just how as a brewer do you look at 49:00these changes across the city, all these new breweries? Everybody kind of seems to have a different niche and a different area, how big has this change been just from your perspective, especially as a local?

Katie Smith: Well, and my dad hates it because he grew up here, he's not a fan of downtown and all that other stuff. He's finally drinking White Zombie, that's about as far as he'll go, and there's one here, he'll drink the pilsner and sometimes St. T's, but that's-

Erin Lawrimore: He'll sometimes drink your beer.

Katie Smith: Oh yeah, but his is Keystone Light all the way, and I'm like, "Oh God no, I don't know how I came out to be a brewer." It's really interesting to know the people, and I do love, I always think it's funny I see on Facebook people that I went to high school with and all this other stuff, and they're posing in front of Sierra Nevada with their family in town, and I'm like, "You 50:00guys don't even really drink beer or like it." It's funny to see that kind of thing, and people go to breweries and it's like they're excited, it's fun, they're going out on Friday night, you go to a brewery, whereas me, I'm here every day. It's like, "Okay yeah, I want to go to a different brewery and have a beer, and I don't want to be around all these tourists."

Katie Smith: Well, and I always tell people I hate the traffic, but tourism pays for my bills, so I can't bust too much. It's definitely interesting, and people have asked me if I could work at another brewery, where would it be, and I'm like ... Because they're like, "But Sierra Nevada's so cool, and you have New Belgium," New Belgium is the closest brewery to my house, and I'm like, "Yeah, but you know it's automated, and I can't sit still that long in a chair and press buttons, like no, I have to be doing something." I think it's a great 51:00thing, people have fussed because a lot of these bigger breweries are bringing people out of town to come and work for them and not hiring as many locals as people would like to see, but I can't fuss too much because sometimes it's like, "Yeah, but you know do you have the experience though to be hired by them?" If not, then yeah no.

Katie Smith: It's like you've got to work your way up to that point, and yeah, you know what? They'll probably send you to Chico or wherever. It's good, I still haven't been to all the breweries in town, it's impossible, and it's cool but I'm definitely cautious about what will happen in the future, because there 52:00can only be so much beer I think in one area. When we have Asheville just promoting breweries as much as they are, it's great but it's like it's going to hit the fan sooner or later. I don't know, I hope it doesn't the way it may, but it's scary for bigger guys like us, and these smaller breweries that ... Well, and I do say maybe then one day I can open a brewery because I'll be able to buy all this cheap used equipment from Asheville, but other than that, I really hope it doesn't hit the fan.

Katie Smith: Me seeing mainly Asheville, because I haven't lived anywhere else really, I don't know what it's like when people say, "Oh my God, you know I have 53:00to drive like X amount of miles to my closest brewery," and I'm like, "God, that's terrible, I would not do that, like how?" You kind of get those rose-colored glasses when you're in Asheville with beer.

Erin Lawrimore: Yeah, that makes sense. Well, that wraps up the questions that I came with. Is there anything we didn't talk about just in terms of kind of helping to tell your whole story?

Katie Smith: Not that I can think of.

Erin Lawrimore: Awesome, well thank you very much.

Katie Smith: Thank you.

Erin Lawrimore: We really appreciate it.

Katie Smith: Thanks.