Meet Our Keynote Speaker!
Julia Herz: Craft Beer Program Director | Brewers Association
Julia is craft beer program director at the Brewers Association and publisher of CraftBeer.com. She is a homebrewer, a BJCP beer judge, Certified Cicerone®, co-author of the CraftBeer.com Beer & Food Course and co-author of Beer Pairing (Voyageur Press). In her role at the BA she serves as an educator on behalf of small and independent U.S. craft brewers and is a spokesperson for the association.
Beer Ambassador - Karl Strauss Brewing CompanyAs many industry rock stars, Amy left a 7 years career as a preschool teacher to land in the beer industry and has never looked back. Amy is a Certified Beer Server, frequently judges with BJCP, and graduated as a Level 2 from San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer. She is the Pink Boots San Diego Secretary and teaches as The Craft Yogi #drinkbeerdoyoga, In her free time she can be found nerding out in the local home-brew shop and obsessively snapping photos of her pug, Noli. Continued beer education and fostering community are her true passions.
Head Brewer - Jester King BreweryAverie Swanson is the Head Brewer of Jester King Brewery in Austin, TX. Averie is a Houston, TX native who moved to Austin as a homebrewer hoping to advance her career in the beer world. With a degree in biology from the University of Houston and a love for mixed culture beers and fermentation, she has been helping to shape the beers and the culture at Jester King for the last five years. Averie is also involved in community outreach and education at the brewery and in the Austin area, helping to bring the knowledge of beer and mixed culture fermentation to the thirsty people of Texas.
West Coast Technical Rep - Lallemand Brewing/Siebel Institute
Brittney Berg is currently the West Coast Technical Sales Manager for Lallemand Brewing, and has been with the company for just over two and half years. She has her degree from Oregon State University in Food Science and Technology, and specialized in Fermentation. Originally from California, she chose to make the beautiful Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon) her official home base. While being a member of the Pink Boots Society, she is also a member of the MBAA, CCBA, and ASBC. You’ll find her on the LABS Committee of the ASBC, trying to bring local brewing science meetings to a place near you. When she’s not busy traveling or working this winter, you’ll find her skiing and drinking some winter ales at Mt. Hood.
Marketing Manager - Lallemand Brewing/Siebel Institute
Caroline Parnin Smith is the Marketing Manager for Lallemand Brewing and Siebel Institute of Technology. She has been a part of Lallemand Brewing for almost 5 years, moving from a technical sales position to one of team support and marketing. Caroline received a degree in Sociology with a minor in Economics from North Carolina State University and later earned her certificate in Advanced Brewing Theory from Siebel Institute of Technology. Prior to coming on board with Lallemand, Caroline worked a number of positions (volunteer, packaging and assistant brewer) for local Raleigh, NC breweries. Caroline is also an active PBS member, having served 3 years as Co-Chapter leader of the Raleigh, NC chapter. She is one of the original founders of, and serves as Chairwoman for PBS NC’s Bière de Femme Festival. Bière de Femme Fest is an annual educational beer festival held by the North Carolina PBS chapters with 100% of proceeds going to Pink Boots Society. When not working, Caroline enjoys spending time with her husband and their nephew.
Candace L. Moon, Esq.
Partner, Dinsmore & Shohl
Candace L. Moon, Esq. discovered the need for specialized craft beer counsel while working as a bartender at craft beer bar during law school. While she met countless brewers, there were no attorneys catering to the legally complicated industry. Accordingly, Candace opened ‘The Craft Beer Attorney’ serving the San Diego’s suds industry in 2009.
As of August 2017, Candace has joined Dinsmore & Shohl LLP as a Partner, expanding her craft beer specific legal services across the country. She has worked with over 350 craft breweries and craft breweries-in-planning nationwide, handling business entity formation, alcoholic beverage law, contract review, trademark law, as well as other legal needs.
Candace has also spoken to brewers guilds and at brewers association meetings nationwide on matters such as distribution laws and trademarks, to ensure clients and breweries-in-planning are complying with industry standards and regulations. She has also been a resource for brewery-related issues in newspapers, magazines, TV segments, online and at conferences across the country. Candace’s undergraduate degree is from the University of Virginia and her juris doctorate is from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif.
Founder & CEO - Craft’d CompanyChristine Healy is the Founder & CEO of Craft’d Company, a events and marketing company that specializes in working with craft brands. She has over nine years of event planning experience ranging from intimate meetups for 25 guests to festivals for over 2,500 attendees. Prior to launching Craft’d Company, Christine was the National Events Director at American Inno, the digital media and events division of the American City Business Journals. She graduated from The George Washington University with a Business Degree concentrating in Marketing & Event Management.
General Manager - Transport Brewing
New Jersey born Christie Merandino entered the Florida brewing scene in 2015, but for years her life has been focused on the craft beer industry. She discovered her love for craft beer back in college and has been actively researching and involved in the expansion of it in untapped areas for a long time. Merandino’s passion for beer and confidence in what she does helps her overcome all the haters. With a strong focus on inclusion and gender dynamics of females in the brewing industry, Christie has made it a priority to travel and educate women everywhere. Taking on her newest role, Christie has made it out to the Kansas City Area to help start up Transport Brewery in Shawnee, KS.
Forward and strong doesn’t even begin to describe Merandino, whose attitude towards women in the brewing industry is just as badass and real as one might expect being from New Jersey. “Proving myself in a brewing industry full of all males hasn’t been easy, there have been very many gender-based challenges and you have to work a lot harder just to prove yourself, but it has been the best thing I have ever done. The most important thing is that everyone has a fair chance at being part of this craft-beer-culture and does their job for the love of beer. If great beer doesn’t care who makes it, why should we?”
Editor - Rocky Mountain Food ReportDionne Roberts is the editor of Rocky Mountain Food Report, an online publication that provides news coverage of the craft food and beverage industries in the Rocky Mountain region. Roberts is also published in Colorado Collective, Springs Magazine, The Gazette, Colorado Fun, and is a current contributor for Thirst Magazine and a cannabis writer for The Independent. Roberts additionally serves as a food expert for USA Today “10 Best” lists and appears regularly on FOX News as a culinary correspondent. A former military spouse, Roberts has had the opportunity to travel extensively both domestically and abroad as a communications intern for E! Entertainment in London, and writing independent film reviews in New York. While living in Northern California she chose to further her food and beverage knowledge working for Del Dotto Vineyards in Napa and St. Helena, California, and after moving to Colorado Springs, in 2015, Roberts chose to embrace the craft beer industry, brewing and managing in local establishments before transitioning back to her journalism roots.
Production Associate - Blacklands Malt
Emma Peters is a production associate at Blacklands Malt in Leander, Texas. Originally from Alabama, the military brought her to Texas six years ago. After studying Feminist Studies and Political Science at Southwestern University for three years, she chose to pursue other opportunities and started working at Blacklands. Emma is hands on from raw grain delivery to the malthouse, to handling green malt, and ultimately packaging and delivery. “This job is very much a labor of love for me, and I always get incredibly excited to meet those who create something with our malt; it’s an experience that always feels rewarding.”
Marketing Manager - Hop Culture
Grace is an avid craft beer nerd who has always found a way to work with beer. After graduating with a journalism degree from Northwestern University, she attended culinary school. She worked in restaurant management for a couple years while moonlighting as a brand ambassador at 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. on the weekend. She later moved into the beer industry full-time as an account coordinator at 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. Last May, Grace graduated with a Masters degree in the Food Studies program at NYU and now works full-time as the Marketing Manager at Hop Culture. This past August she organized Beers With(out) Beards, the largest weeklong festival celebrating the achievements of women in craft beer in the country.
Merchandise Manager & Events - Austin BeerworksJamie Currivan initially joined the industry on the production side at Austin Beerworks. The brewery’s swift growth however posed an opportunity for her to spearhead the development of their merchandise and event departments. Each day she balances coordinating with vendors, artists, and event patrons while taking care of the brewery’s on-premise and online stores. Today Austin Beerworks has one of the more diverse brewery merchandise menus in the country with continued plans to evolve. Since ABW is always producing new beers there is never a shortage of opportunities to create unique merchandise pairings that compliment the guest experience.
Member - Clark Hill StrasburgerJana H. Woelfel is a Board Certified labor and employment attorney with experience in a wide variety of labor and employment issues, including representing management in anticipating and responding to all types of employment issues, including litigation, compliance and policy formulation with respect to federal employment laws, including Title VII, ADA, ADAAA, ADEA, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, FLSA, FMLA, USERRA, Section 1981, WARN, COBRA, GINA, CFAA, FCRA, as well as their state counterparts. In addition to providing advice and counsel to employers who are beginning to face HR issues, Jana counsels HR professionals and senior management in navigating complex employment issues. She has experience negotiating employment contracts, noncompetition and nondisclosure agreements, preparing employment handbooks and HR policies, developing affirmative action plans and provides advice regarding enforcement of leave policies, termination procedures and pay practices, as well as defending claims of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, both before the appropriate administrative agencies and in court.
Lab Technician - Saint Arnold Brewing CompanyJessie’s day to day involves running tests and performing sensory to ensure the quality and consistency of St. Arnold’s beer. She runs forced diacetyl and VDKs every day, and performs IBU/SRM and micro work throughout the week. She finishes out the week by leading the sensory panel where she trains employees on the various off flavors that they might encounter. Her favorite part of the job is that she’s able to use her degree in a way she never thought she’d be able to. She still has the challenges that come with the science side of this job, but it’s balanced by the always exciting world of brewing.
President - Pink Boots Society, Small Batch Brewer - Stone Brewing
Laura Ulrich is part of Stone Brewing’s Small Batch Brewing Team. As a Small Batch Brewer, Ulrich is responsible for brewing pilot batches for ingredient research and maintaining the barrel-aged beer program, which stores the inventory of more than 1,500 beer-filled oak barrels previously used for spirits and wines. In 2007, she played a significant role with helping Teri Fahrendorf launch Pink Boots Society. In 2016, Laura was chosen by Teri to lead and serve the organization as President.
Having worked in the brewing industry for more than 16 years, her entry into professional brewing was with Odell Brewing Company in Ft Collins, Colo., where she balanced multiple roles. Laura has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Lindenwood University in St Charles, Mo., and is a Cicerone® Certified Beer Server. She has also served as a Judge for the GABF for the last 6 years.
Marketing Manager - Oskar Blues
Leilani has worked in the beverage industry for 11 years working with wines, spirits and craft beer gaining experience in retail, on premise, chains, and in marketing. As the Texas Marketing Manager for Oskar Blues Brewery in north Austin, she is passionate about craft beer and the way it brings people together, sharing that excitement with new and fellow beer lovers is the best part of the day. Outside of the office, Leilani also enjoys outdoor activities, live music, and her sweet puppy bear Maceo.
VP of Operations - Big Bend Brewing
Mahala is the Vice President of Operations for Big Bend Brewing Co. A CPA by training, Mahala originally joined the Big Bend team in 2013, just before the brewery’s first birthday, as a part-time Financial Controller. Eventually one thing led to another, and another, and another (as things have a way of doing), and after founding brewmaster Steve Anderson passed away in 2015, Mahala took over operations at Big Bend and joined forces with current brewmaster Jan Matysiak. Tasked with creating a viable business from the most remote brewery in the U.S. and turning around a brewery with a spotty record on product quality, the team ultimately determined that the best way forward was to design and build a second location in San Antonio. Everything was going well until it wasn’t, when the macroeconomic challenges faced by the craft beer sector caught Big Bend out short
Head Brewer - Blue Owl BrewingMeike Rossman is the Head Brewer at Blue Owl Brewing, an all sour-mash brewery in Austin, TX. She received a degree in Computer Science and brings the scientific methodology of that background into shaping experiments and operating procedures at the brewery. A Certified Cicerone®, Meike enjoys pushing herself to learn all she can to make beers that are delicious, balanced, approachable and, of course, sour.
PR & Brand Marketing - Saint Arnold BreweryPriscilla Walker, Public Relations and Brand Marketing for Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, Texas, oversees the coordination and development of the brewery’s media strategies locally, state-wide, and nation-wide. Mrs. Walker also assists with the social media efforts of the brewery, keeping it at the forefront of the media landscape. She has been with Saint Arnold Brewing Company since October 2016, and previously led the planning of social media strategies and implementation in the hospitality and political campaign industries. Mrs. Walker successfully completed an undergraduate program in journalism, with a primary focus on multimedia at the University of Texas in 2009.
Director of Business Operations - Freetail Brewing
Tracey Bellavance is the Director of Business Operations at Freetail Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas. She spent her early career working in the publishing and advertising industry in New York City. After one too many cold winters, she moved to Texas and went to work for AT&T in their network commerce division. In 2001, she got married and together with her husband, ran a successful contracting business, selling it after 11 years. In 2014, her nephew, the co-founder of Freetail, asked her to help him with his brewery expansion. Instead of retiring and spending sunny days on the beaches of St. Thomas, she entered the craft beer industry. Affectionately known as T-Bone around the brewery, she manages budgets, operations, and is responsible for ensuring a bat awesome culture for employees.
Director of Sales & Marketing - Hops & Grain Brewing
Sheila Garcia is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Hops & Grain Brewing in Austin, Texas. Sheila has 15 plus years of experience in the marketing, events & social media space. After her 10-year career in radio she worked at the San Antonio Food Bank and then worked as a Marketing Team Leader at Whole Foods Market for 3 years, in San Antonio and ending at the flagship store in Austin. Realizing she wanted to be part of a small business and support it’s growth, she focused on the craft brewing industry. She has worked with Hops & Grain since 2015 and has helped the company grow from 8 employees to 19, and from 24,000 followers to over 58,000 followers (collectively). She currently resides in the Austin area with her dog, LeRoi, and is an avid sports & live music fan.