Women in Beer | Karen Killough

Photo Courtesy of Vista Brewing

When I started writing for Craft Beer Austin back in 2015, my first series of articles was about Women in Beer. I am happy to announce that thanks to the ladies of the Austin chapter of the Pink Boots Society, I am bringing back the Women in Beer series. This edition features Karen Killough, Co-Founder of Vista Brewing.

Describe your average week. What are you responsible for?

Marketing & social media, programming, private events, HR, retail shop/merch, PR/media relations.  I’ve also joined the Board of the Texas Craft Brewer’s Guild this year, so I’m looking forward to digging in to help our industry.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Creating new ideas for events and programming at Vista, and chatting with guests, both first time visitors and regulars.

What challenges have you faced in this or previous roles in the beer industry?

This is my first beer industry role…lots of challenges to overcome to launch your own business! Some are smaller, daily challenges and some are big hurdles that take months to figure out.!

How long have you been working in the beer industry? What did you do before this role?

Three to four years now, depending on when you start counting during the “brewery in planning” stage. Prior to this I worked in marketing for Dell and several other CPG companies, including a boutique vodka brand.

If someone asked you to describe the current state of today’s craft beer climate what would you say?

Exciting, creative, experiential.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your company, and/or the industry as a whole?

I love that I can integrate our company with our family life, from the flexible schedule to bringing our three kids to the brewery every Sunday. For the industry as a whole, I think the public would be surprised at how many women (and how passionate they are) work in the craft beer industry!

Has Pink Boots played a role in your career? If so, how?

Yes! I value the connections I’ve made with other women in this industry, both locally and across the country. I love the monthly meetings and it was a huge bonus the national conference was held here in Austin.!  I was recently awarded a scholarship to from Pink Boots to travel to and attend the Beer Marketing & Tourism Conference.  Such a valuable learning experience that I owe to Pink Boots!

What question(s) are you tired of answering/getting asked?

“Do you live on the property?” No, but sometimes I think we spend enough time here, maybe we should!

What beer are you currently enjoying the most?

Of course my favorite beer of the year is our Pink Boots Collaboration brew: Zwickeled Pink!   Not just because a big group of women join us for the brew day, but it’s also my ideal beer style for springtime in Austin, a dry-hopped Pilsner.  I’m also loving our Rosanna Wine-Barrel Aged Brett.

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We're stoked to brew here in the Hill Country with our friends from @funkwerks out of Ft. Collins!  This is one of three collabs we're brewing up for release mid-April for the national @brewersassoc #CraftBrewersCon, happening an hour south of us in San Antonio. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ During his days back in Cali at Green Flash & Cellar 3, our brewmaster Pat met Funkwerks co-founder Gordon at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest.  They hit it off immediately (over fine beers, of course) and have been friends ever since.  These two legends put their heads together on a collab recipe: a beer for the Texas spring, a beer showcasing what both breweries do well, a beer full of local ingredients. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ SAISON was the answer, of course. A traditional style that allowed them to get creative. They honed in on the idea of a "Little Saison" or "Session Saison" (we are now accepting ideas for names, please comment below 😊). The goal is to capture all of the flavors and mouthfeel of a 6-8% abv saison, but do it at around 3.5% abv.  The beer will have a spiciness to it, with an earthy finish and some bretty and funky flavors. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ We worked with our friends at local yeast lab @communityculturesyeastlab to find the right yeast for the job, and chose a wild saccharomyces strain that was harvested in Big Bend out in West Texas. The grain bill included 50 lbs of locally grown raw spelt berries from @bartonspringsmill. We can't wait to drink this one in the spring breeze! ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #keepfortcollinsfunky #keepdriftwoodfunky #saison #saisongoals #sessionsaison

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