This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.
Central Texas has a distinct and growing beer culture and women are not only present in every aspect of it from brewers, distributors to consumers; they are also well-respected leaders shaping the craft beer culture. Our Women in Beer series highlights the women in our community shaping the beer scene including members of the Austin chapter of the Pink Boots Society. This edition features Sheila Garcia, Director of Hospitality at Austin Beerworks, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Co-Chair of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, and Austin Chapter Co-Leader for Pink Boots Society.
Describe your average week. What are you responsible for?
My job at Austin Beerworks is different every day, as it is a brand new position for the company. My main duties are to oversee the operation of our taproom and food truck, The Cantina, as well as host off-site and on-site events, including private events, and support our merchandise program. My main focus is anything that is customer-facing and to provide the best hospitality possible in all avenues. Throughout the week, my responsibilities vary between managing payroll, communicating updates in offerings regarding our beer and food menu to our FOH & BOH teams, as well as sharing with our entire team of Beerworkers. I also meet with each of the 4 owners often to discuss current needs and future plans. I connect with our community in various ways to support their events or find ways to host them onsite to share their mission and goals with our customers. Social media is a part of my week as well to be sure we’re sharing what we have going on event-wise, beer releases, etc. I help manage our Infobox, including listening to voicemails and returning calls as needed and helping our ownership filter through donation & sponsorship requests. Our merchandise offerings are a store within the store of our taproom and we have over 120 items. Making sure we have proper inventory and are in stock of top sellers is vital to keeping our guests happy. Overall, my job is to make sure our staff and guests are happy, and that makes me happy!
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is working with my team to create an atmosphere that guests enjoy and want to return to often. Right behind that is partnering with amazing Austin institutions in the non-profit and fellow small businesses sector. While we may have a big brand reputation, we are a small business as well, and supporting the community that has supported us over the last 10 years is pretty awesome too.
What challenges have you faced in this or previous roles in the beer industry?
My biggest challenge in my current role is balancing manager duties and wanting to be a part of every event physically, with the balance of the admin side of my job which entails responding to emails, working on payroll, looking at data, and creating reports. Events come from responding to emails, so I do enjoy that to an extent, but often I’m wishing I could create more hours in the day. That being said, I feel supported by all 4 of our owners and my fellow managers and am lucky to have a great team that executes what I ask of them.
How long have you been working in the beer industry? What did you do before this role?
I’ve been in the craft beer industry for 6 1/2 years. I worked at Hops & Grain Brewing for 4, leaving as the Chief Communications Officer before joining the opening team at Hold Out Brewing in 2019. Before that, I enjoyed 10 years in radio working in the promotion department at Clear Channel Radio in San Antonio, and just before craft beer was the Marketing Team Leader at Whole Foods Market in San Antonio and Austin’s Flagship. I am currently the Director of Hospitality at Austin Beerworks, overseeing the taproom(s), our ABW Cantina food truck, and on-site and off-site events.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of today’s craft beer climate what would you say?
As with most industries, these past 2 years have been rough on craft beer. While we are definitely feeling an upward swing, we are still in a long battle to get where we were in 2019. The climate is healthy in the sense that customers are supportive, but at the same time, so many of our adjacent industries are struggling, which in turn causes a struggle for us. Retailers such as bars, hotels, & restaurants, have reopened in Texas, but the amount of guests they are seeing now still has plenty of growth to hit previous numbers from 2019. Looking at the cost of goods for ingredients and products like hops, aluminum cans, cardboard and more have risen, not to mention the length of time it takes to receive your orders. So while it’s great that we can again host people in our taproom and our sales to on & off-premise locations are way better than they were in 2020, we still are pushing to get back to where we were. We are thankful for the continuous support of craft beer fans from all over the world!
Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your company, and/or the industry as a whole?
I hope people truly appreciate the CRAFT in craft beer. It is a labor of love, brewed, created, and packaged by hand. Sometimes customers question the cost of beer when buying directly from the brewery – assuming it should be lower than at retail. But I hope they understand that while they (hopefully) have an easy curbside pick-up of their to-go beer, a LOT of work goes into providing those cans of beer. Thank the people that hand you the beer, verbally and with a kind tip. Anything less than 20% is harsh to swallow at these times. The cost of the beer supports the brewery and the salaried employees, but the tips go to the bartenders and every cent helps pay bills and put food on the table.
Has Pink Boots played a role in your career? If so, how?
I wouldn’t say Pink Boots has played a role in my career, in the way of leading me to my career. But, I found Pink Boots after working in craft beer for a couple of years and was so excited to have an organization and support group of WOMYN that allows us to talk opening and share ideas without judgment. Being voted to co-lead our Austin Chapter, especially in this crazy pandemic time has been an honor. I hope I’m able to help other womyn use Pink Boots to catapult them in their careers.
What question(s) are you tired of answering/getting asked?
I’m tired of being asked if outside alcohol is allowed in our taproom. We recently added Fairweather Cider and wine-by-the-glass, so we do have other options outside of our own tasty craft beer. However, when has it ever been ok to bring in outside alcohol to an establishment that sells alcohol? The answer is no.
What beer are you currently enjoying the most?
Pale Ales and Stouts! I’m a pale ale fan as they typically provide the hop-balance I like with an ABV that is approachable to allow me to drink a few and still keep my head right. And with the fall/winter season upon us, I’ve been searching for stouts at every place I visit. Lucky for me, Sputnik, ABW’s Russian Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout, will be available soon with 2 other variants too!