Hopportunity Awaits is a brew on a mission to help highlight careers in craft beer, and inspire more of us to hold the door for the unique talent among us, creating more pathways for diversity, in every sense, across every role. Partial proceeds will benefit Craft x EDU as we work together to launch an educational grant for emerging professionals in craft beer.
On the cans, you will meet 10 industry professionals who are ready to tell their remarkable stories of how they got their start and paved their own path in craft, rules be damned.
Without further ado…
Meet Leanne O’Neill, the notorious Sip & Saunter beer blogger with a passion for pints.
How did you discover the world of craft beer, or what inspired you to join?
My dad was a homebrewer before I was born, and he co-founded a homebrew club. He continued homebrewing, but once he had us, he scaled back a bit.
As we grew up, he showed us his love of beer. It was common to drink around the house, and in Ohio, you can legally drink underage with your family, even at the bars.
He would take me out when I was 18, or 19, I started drinking Bells Two Hearted, Dogfish Head, etc.
Going into my 21st birthday, I was a public relations major at Kent State University. I thought I would pursue my two passions, so when I was 20, I reached out to breweries to shadow them.
They would let me show up, not drink, but gave me tours where I could ask questions about how I could enter the brewing industry.
I connected with my dad’s friend from his homebrew club who was a brewmaster in Cleveland. I had an informational interview, and he connected me to the marketing director, who mentioned they were hiring an intern, so she asked me if I would do it.
I started the first week of my 21st birthday, and now I’ve been in the craft beer industry for seven years.
Pictured above: The first brewing event Leanne worked at in 2014.
What do you love about the craft beer community?
I love the collaborative nature of anything.
This interview goes to show, not many industries would be so casual to hop on an interview with another company. You see it a lot with collaboration beer efforts. Being friends with people at “rival” companies isn’t common in every industry.
Where would you love to see it grow or improve?
For the most part, in diversity, inclusion, and creating an equitable environment. There’s a long running stereotype that craft beer drinkers are for bearded white hipsters. But craft beer is for everyone. There’s still a lot of work to go to achieve that.
What types of skills have helped you personally succeed in this industry?
I think the two things that have gotten me the furthest have been social skills, and my willingness to interview people. A lot of opportunity has been on me introducing myself, and following up on those conversations.
Being inquisitive, and having a willingness to learn, and seeing that there’s always more to learn has been beneficial.
Who in the craft beer industry do you admire?
I have a couple!
Megan Stone, who is a good friend of mine, lives right around the corner.
I do really admire the work she’s been doing for the beer industry. She’s been vocal about the issues, and trying to hold the industry accountable.
Eugenia Brown, founder of Beer Chick. She sells t-shirts and merchandise to raise funding for Cicerone scholarships, and the Pink Boots society. I am a Certified Cicerone and seeing her uplift and encourage others is fantastic to see.
What is the most memorable brew you’ve ever had?
There’s a few. A World Wide Stout from Dogfish Head. You couldn’t get it in Ohio, so my dad went and got it. I said I wouldn’t open it until the day I got my first real job in the beer industry.
I also opened a Celebration IPA from Sierra Nevada when I got my Sierra Nevada internship. And the first beer I had in the Sierra Nevada Pub when I moved to Chico.
The common denominator is that beer is for celebrating milestones, and it’s hard for me to pick one.
Bonus question: How did your dad get reconnected with the homebrew club?
Back in Cleveland, I was serving at Market Garden, and was dropping beers at the table for the brewmaster. At the time, he was being interviewed for the Cleveland newspaper by Mark Bona, who is a journalist that covers beer in the area. I was talking to them, and he was being interviewed for the 25th anniversary of this homebrew club my dad co-founded.
He mentioned to Mark to talk to me, as my dad was the first president. Then, my dad and I got invited to the 25th anniversary party, and while we were at the event, signed up on the spot. He was so happy he finally had the time for it. Now, he’s the president again, won some awards, and got to brew a recipe of his at Jackie O’s.
Bonus: Would you ever release a beer with your dad?
Yes, I think that would be a lot of fun.
Head here to learn more about Leanne, and her top tips to get into the beer industry.
Here’s a sneak preview:
>> Start small & local
>> Further your beer education
>> Introduce yourself to folks who work at breweries
Say hi on Social!
Click here to meet more of our talented rule-makers and read their remarkable stories. Once you hear what they have to say, you will realize that yes, you can brew it too.