Article originally published May, 2021
When I started writing for CraftBeerAustin.com 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 Sara Hamza, Co-owner of Vacancy Brewing.
Describe your average week. What are you responsible for?
As new business owners, my partner Brent and I are wearing lots of hats. The simple division is that Brent manages all things production, and I manage all things marketing and branding. Of course, there’s lots of other things to get done in the day from managing the taproom to keeping the brewery clean that we both tag team. You’ll even find me behind the bar slinging beer most weekends! Simply put, I don’t get much sleep but love every second of it.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My absolute favorite part of the job is getting to connect with people in the Austin community over craft beer. Food and drink are such an integral part of enjoying life, and it’s truly one of my favorite things to help create these experiences in our taproom. The free beer perks don’t hurt either!
What challenges have you faced in this or previous roles in the beer industry?
The biggest challenge is finding enough time in the day to get everything done! I have so many ideas that I want to see come to life at Vacancy, and I constantly have to remind myself to take things one day at a time (for now, at least).
How long have you been working in the beer industry? What did you do before this role?
Before starting Vacancy Brewing, I spent my career in the hotel world with companies such as Starwood, Marriott, and most recently with Hyatt here in Austin. I’ve worked across several areas of hotel operations, including Food and Beverage, Guest Services, and Marketing. Working in hotels has taught me the value of creating an experience, not just a transaction. My hope is to bring this to life at Vacancy through creating a welcoming environment in our taproom and inspiring genuine interactions with our customers.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of today’s craft beer climate what would you say?
The craft beer climate is ever-evolving, and it’s so exciting to see breweries push the limits when it comes to beverage offerings. More than ever, people are looking for new and exciting products that challenge their assumptions of what a craft beer should be. On the other hand, there’s still a strong appreciation for tried and true styles. We’ve heard from folks at both ends of the spectrum through our conversations in the taproom. At Vacancy, we are trying to marry the two through honoring traditional brewing styles with beers like June (Pilsner) and Senior (West Coast IPA) while also pushing ourselves to explore more experimental offerings.
Has Pink Boots played a role in your career? If so, how?
As a newbie to the beer world, I was so excited to learn about the Pink Boots Society and connect with other women in the industry. I was nervous to attend the first meeting since I didn’t know anyone, but I was instantly welcomed and felt right at home. One of the things that I’ve come to learn is that the craft beer scene in Austin is incredibly supportive and collaborative, and Pink Boots has offered an invaluable opportunity for Vacancy to connect with our fellow Austin breweries.
What question(s) are you tired of answering/getting asked?
HAH! I love this question! To be completely honest, we are so beyond excited to finally have our doors open that getting to tell our story and talk about our beers doesn’t get old! Yes, I’ll admit that some days it does get repetitive to tell our story about opening a brewery during a pandemic, but it’s just so exciting that we get the opportunity to share our experience with the Austin community!
What beer are you currently enjoying the most?
The best thing about knowing the brewer is getting to put in personal beer requests! Our Juicy Lucy is a fruited version of our Lucille Sparkling Golden Ale with 200 pounds of peaches added. It’s refreshing, balanced, and oh so delicious. I could drink it all day (except it’s 8.2%, so it’ll sneak up on you quick)!