When Meghann Quinn’s great-grandparents planted their first acres of hops in 1932, little did they know that their great-grand-daughter would be responsible for the business side of what is now Bale Breaker Brewing Company, a family-owned enterprise ranked last year as the fifth-largest independent craft brewery in Washington state.
At Bale Breaker Brewing Company, women play an integral role in nearly all aspects of the business, from the farm to the tasting room. It is a tradition that Quinn traces back to her great-grandmother, Leota Mae Loftus, the namesake of the brewery’s Leota Mae IPA.
“It never occurred to Leota that there was a job she couldn’t do,” Quinn said. “If an irrigation ditch needed to be dug, crops needed to be picked, or workers needed to be fed, she was the lone woman on the crew beside—or in front of—the men, getting the job done. In fact, throughout the 1940s, she was the only woman hop drier in the Yakima Valley.” In those days, Quinn says, hops drying was done by hand.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Bale Breaker Brewing Company operates out of a 27,000 square foot facility housing a 30-barrel brewhouse. The brewery’s tasting room is right in the center of Hop Field #41, part of roughly 2,200 acres of the family farm in the heart of Washington’s Yakima Valley, where Quinn and her three brothers grew up.
“My dad always says that when you grow up among them, hops become part of your DNA,” said Quinn. “I guess my brothers and I are pretty good examples of that.”
Quinn earned a degree in Business Finance from the University of Washington. She now handles all things business at the brewery, including finance, accounting, reporting, marketing, public relations and the like. However, she proudly points to the team of women whose expertise gives Bale Breaker Brewing its competitive edge.
“Jackie Beard is our Quality & Sensory Manager. She has a degree in microbiology from Northwestern, has developed a robust in-house sensory program from scratch, and makes sure all of the beer we send out is up to our high-quality standards,” said Quinn. “Erin Schlect and Shayna Koch are two young moms who run our accounting department. Our marketing department consists of Danika Norman (Marketing Manager), Sara Gottlieb (Social Media Manager) and Marguerite Washut (Marketing and Events Coordinator). These three women are essential to driving our brand forward and effectively communicating to and connecting with our consumer base.”
Quinn also said three of the company’s four-person outside sales team are women. Sara Verdieck covers western Washington, Kat Finn handles Oregon, and Justine Malland tackles eastern Washington and northern Idaho. “These women are the face of Bale Breaker with our distributors and accounts throughout our distribution footprint.”
Posted October 22, 2019